Overcoming Obstacles

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Lesson 3: Coping Skills

Standards Addressed

  • Students will identify and express feelings.
  • Students will distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
  • Students will develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems.
  • Students will use a combination of drawing and writing to compose informative and explanatory texts that name and supply information about the topic.
  • Students will use active and attentive communication skills, building on others' ideas to explore, learn, enjoy, debate, and exchange information.


  • Students will develop an awareness of their emotions.

  • Students will understand some emotions are easy to deal with and some are hard.

  • Students will learn strategies to help them control their emotions.


  • Board or chart paper and markers (“I Do”)

  • A list of “Easy Emotions” (for example, excited, happy, silly, calm) and “Hard Emotions” (for example, sad, tired, afraid, angry) (“I Do”)

  • A list of coping strategies for the “Hard Emotions” (“I Do”)

  • A sheet of paper folded in half horizontally and coloring supplies for each student (“You Do”)


3 Minutes

Begin by telling students, “Today, I want to talk to you about your emotions. Emotions are feelings we have when good and bad things happen. Good things cause feelings that are easy and make us happy, while bad things cause feelings that are hard for us and make us sad.

“Both types of feelings are important because they keep us aware of our world. Easy feelings help us learn and work better. Hard feelings, like anger and fear, warn us of dangers and threats and help us protect ourselves. But having too much of a feeling or emotion can sometimes be a problem if we do not handle it correctly.

“We need to recognize what feelings we are having and learn the best way to handle them. Usually, hard feelings are the most difficult to handle. So today, we are going to talk about some ways to handle hard feelings. While we cannot stop our feelings or emotions, we can control how we handle them. It is important that we do so in a positive way.”

Teacher Presented Knowledge / I Do

15 Minutes

Direct students’ attention to the board or chart. Tell students, “First, I am going to think about some emotions, identify and name them, and sort them into two lists: ‘easy’ and ‘hard.’” Make two lists titled “Easy” and “Hard.” Then, tell students, “Now, I am going to talk about some things I do to help me handle my hard emotions. Notice how I try to be careful to only use positive actions that do not cause hurt to myself or anyone else.” Discuss each hard emotion (sorrow, fear, anger, etc.) and model considering a strategy for each. Create a list of possible coping strategies for hard emotions while explaining each one of your actions.

Possible coping strategies:

  • Identify your emotions by asking yourself, "How do I feel?"
  • Take five deep breaths.
  • Think of things that make you happy.
  • Exercise, move around, and stretch.
  • Focus on your five senses—count sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and textures around you.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Distract yourself with TV, music, a book, a chore, or something fun that you like to do.
  • Ask for help.

Guided Student Practice / We Do

15 Minutes

Direct the class to turn and talk to the student sitting next to them and to discuss which coping strategies they think would work best for them and why.

Student Independent Practice / You Do

15 Minutes

Give each student a sheet of folded drawing paper. Tell them to draw and write a situation that would cause them to experience a hard emotion on one half of the paper. On the other half of the paper, tell them to draw and write a coping strategy they would use to control the emotion.


10 Minutes

Have students share their illustrations. Then say, “Bad things sometimes happen. We cannot change that. But we can change how we feel, and we can control what we say and how we behave.”

Student Assessment

  1. What are emotions?
  2. What coping strategy could you use when you’re angry or mad?
  3. When do you need to seek support to deal with an emotion?
  4. Is name calling or saying mean things a positive way to deal with a hard emotion?

Extensions for Lesson 3: Coping Skills

Art Extension

Create a class collage of feelings using pictures from a news publication and/or magazine.

Art Extension

Students can make a sensory bottle using a water bottle, food dye, glitter glue, and glitter. The students can calm down when feeling stressed, angered, or overwhelmed by shaking the bottle and watching the glitter settle. (To make the sensory bottles, combine the glitter glue, glitter, drop(s) of food dye, and lukewarm water in a clear, plastic water bottle. Then, shake it!)

Art Extension

Distribute to each student a “Wheel of Emotions” activity sheet. Tell students, “Now that we have discussed our range of feelings, I want you to draw a picture of how you act and look when you feel each emotion.” Provide a model drawing of a picture for an emotion of your choice for students to see. Circulate around the room and help students brainstorm pictures they can draw for each emotion.

Drama Extension

Have students play charades where they act out a given emotion and their classmates have to guess which one it is. (Emotions to act out could include happy, sad, worried, angry, and afraid.)

Music Extension

Sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” and create a new song version by substituting other emotions and actions.

Science Extension

Show students scans of brains and brainwave activity. Explain that this is where emotion comes from. Explain the different parts of the brain. Show students the diagrams and explanations on this website: https://study.com/academy/lesson/brain-anatomy-lesson-for-kids.html

Activity Sheets

Using Google Slides, you can customize every Overcoming Obstacles activity sheet in the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels.

Click on the button below to open a link to the Google Slides version of this activity sheet. In order to begin editing the file, you will first need to save a copy of the slide to your Google account. You can do this by selecting “File” and then “Make a Copy.”

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