Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Managing Emotions – Calming Down Before We Lose Control

This is a great activity with very little prep time and no worksheets, all you have to do is print and cut a couple pieces of paper for the game. Group work is always fun in guidance and my students had a great time acting out the skills. I thought the video would be a little advanced for my younger students, but they actually really enjoyed it too and were very interested in it. It’s extremely helpful to have this lesson to reference back to later when working with students on calming down and managing their feelings and conflicts.

Lesson Title: Managing Emotions – Calming Down Before We Lose Control

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • PS:B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems
  • PS:B1.5 Demonstrate when, where and how to seek help for solving

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify multiple calm down strategies
  • Students will be able to practice calm down strategies in response to upsetting situations



  1. Start by introducing the lesson: “Today we are going to learn about managing our emotions, even when things get super difficult. We’re going to start by watching a video that explains how our brain helps us deal with big emotions, then we are going to discuss different strategies we use to calm down from difficult situations so that we can calm down before we experience much bigger emotions. We are going to practice some of these calm down strategies by playing a game before you leave today.”
  2. Play the Why Do We Lose Control of our Emotions video:
  3. Write the following strategies on the board that help us manage our emotions and explain how we can use these strategies. Explain that we are all different so different strategies work for different people.
    1. “I Statement”
      1. When __________, I feel ________, because __________.
      2. This helps us keep the problem small by explaining the situation to others in a better way that doesn’t just focus on the negatives. Instead, I statements help others to understand your emotional reactions to what happened.
    2. Replace your negative thoughts with happy ones
      1. Instead of focusing on the situation that made you upset, you can think of thoughts that make you happy. I am super glad that my test is over and I enjoy all of the other activities that we are doing today.
      2. You can also reframe the situation. Even though that situation made me angry, I know my friend only did that because he didn’t know how much that bothers me and he was too angry to think clearly. This might be a great opportunity for him to learn how to handle his anger better, and I can help teach him if I handle this situation well!
    3. Talk about your feelings
      1. Find an adult or a friend to share your feelings with. Sometimes just confiding in someone and letting it all out makes you feel better. They can also remind you to use other strategies to help you relax and calm down or give you advice to help fix the situation.
    4. Deep breathing
      1. Show students how they can imagine they are blowing bubbles or blowing up a balloon to calm down their bodies and emotions.
    5. Visual relaxation
      1. Think of something that makes you happy, such as your favorite place, food, people, animals, etc. Imagine how this happy place/thing smells, what sounds you might hear, the tastes you may have, the feelings you may experience.
    6. Tensing and relaxing muscles
      1. Practice tensing your muscles and relaxing them, everything from your hands to your neck to your legs and toes.
    7. Squish play dough
      1. Squishing something can help us release all of our anger and distract us from our frustration.
    8. Use your energy to do something good
      1. Sometimes doing something positive or helpful will make us feel a lot better, and we can help make other people happy too.
    9. Count to ten or sing a song
      1. Spend some time focusing on something while you calm down, such as counting or singing. I like to sing something that makes me calm or happy.
    10. Take a walk
      1. Taking a walk can help me to focus on what is around me and to calm down from the situation.
  4. “We are now going to play a game to practice using these strategies we just learned about. I will provide each group with a pile of scenarios and a pile of calming down strategies. You will each take turns grabbing one scenario and one calm down strategy. You will read your scenario to your group, but do not share your calm down strategy. We are going to play a game called charades. To play charades, you will act something out and the others in your group must guess what it is. After you act out the strategy and someone in your group guesses it, you can discuss with your group whether that calm down strategy might work to help you calm down from that situation or not. Remember, different strategies are good for different people.

*For Kindergarten and first grade, consider doing this game as a whole group. You can read the scenario out and have all kids express the emotions that they would feel. Then read the strategy they can use and have them act it out, or have one student act it out (whisper the skill in their ear to act out) and have the class guess.

Hand out the materials to groups (3-5 people) to allow them to play. Walk around and give clues as needed if any groups need any help.

  • If time allows, ask students to share their favorite calm down strategies with the class.

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