This Lesson Plan is ideal for the first session if doing multiple sessions and has been adapted from Healing Activities for Children in Grief by Gay McWhorter, MEd and ADEC Certified Grief Counselor.
Working with young children on loss and grief is vital; however, the work must be approached strategically due to the intensity of the subject of death and the young ages of the participants. Grief work with this age group is best approached from the angle of feelings and emotions. When young children are introduced to feelings and emotions and how they express them, logically the subject of loss and death will be included. In addition, immediately speaking about death when a participating student has lost a loved one could lead to the child feeling unfairly and unexpectedly targeted.
From an overall educational perspective, children respond positively when hands-on activities or other participatory lessons are used to meet the lesson objectives. Young children especially respond to stories with meaning, followed by a related activity
Age Group: 5 – 8 years
Setup: About 20-25 minutes
Goal: Students will be given the opportunity to reflect upon feelings (mad, sad, hurt), understand how they impact our lives and learn different ways to cope.
Objective: Students will be able to name at least 2 different types of feelings. They will name at least 1 way to cope with hurt feelings, and they will name one person they can go to when they need help.
Setup: Sit on floor in a large circle
Material: The Hurt by Teddi Doleski, one small full and tied balloon, one small empty balloon for each student (Modification – Two balloons only for the teacher to use to demonstrate instead of each child needing a balloon)
Lesson Plan & Activity:
- Teacher explains objective of lesson.
- Teacher reads The Hurt.
- Teacher leads discussion:
- How hurt/sad/mad feelings can get bigger and bigger
- How feelings affect us
- What did Justin do that finally helped (talked to his dad)
- What can we do when hurt gets big
- Activity – Balloons
- Teacher takes full and tied balloon and explains that inside the balloons are feelings. When we don’t release our feelings in a healthy way, they explode! Pop the balloon.
- Each child blows up a balloon to represent a hurt feeling
- Don’t tie the balloon
- Provide an example of when I might feel angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, etc.
- “My friend didn’t want to play the game I wanted to play.”
- “My mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/sister/brother yelled at me.”
- Name the feeling
- Let the balloon go to represent a specific way we can release the feeling in a healthy way:
- Shout outside
- Write a letter
- Talk to someone – who?
- Listen to music
- Read a book
- Hug someone special
- Draw a picture
- Activity debrief: Teacher explains that feelings are natural and we can’t stop them. When we have hurt feelings, there are things we can do to feel better. We cannot keep the feelings inside or we will explode just like a popped balloon!