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Lesson Plans

As an educator, it is important to make sure that your children’s parents or caregivers let you know if something has occurred within the family that might be traumatic—such as a death, a move, divorce or separation, parent deployed/reintegration. Then, be on the lookout for possible short- or long-term effects.  These effects may include:

  • A regression to more infantile behavior, such as thumb-sucking;
  • Unusual mood changes, such as temper tantrums or clingy behavior;
  • Changes in eating habits; and
  • Lethargy or crankiness caused by changes in sleeping patterns.

You and your classroom are essential resources for children who have experienced a traumatic event(s).  You can build a positive, caring environment that encourages children to talk about their experiences, communicate their feelings, and listen to one another.

Try the activity below to help your students express their fears and other emotions.


  • Small brown paper bags, at least two for each child
  • Crayons or markers
  • Glue and scissors
  • Other art materials, such as yarn, cotton balls, colored paper, string, buttons, pipe cleaners,  and construction paper
  • “I Feel Many Different Ways” Song from Building Blocks

    Note: This song can be downloaded onto a CD or can be played from your computer.

Preparations: Download “I Feel Many Different Ways” to a CD or use your computer and speakers to play the song directly from the Building Blocks website.


  1. Gather the students together and ask volunteers to tell the class what makes them happy. How does “happy” make them feel? Encourage them to show how they feel by facial expressions and body movement.
  2. Select different emotions, such as sad, mad, and silly, and have new volunteers answer the same questions, making the facial expressions and body movements that convey each emotion.
  3. Play “I Feel Many Different Ways,” either from your computer or CD player.  Mee Possum introduces the song by saying: “Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m silly, and sometimes I’m mad.” As you sing along with the music, have your students use their previous actions and facial expressions to show the different feelings the song suggests. Also, help them recognize the most important message of the song: “Every feeling is okay.”
  4. Next, ask: What scares you? How do you feel when you are scared? How does your face look? Have your students make a scared face and show how their bodies might react if they were scared. As a class, write a new verse for the song and have the children sing and act along with the music.
  5. Ask the children to imagine they have the power to scare away the things that scare them with their own scary faces. Then, using the art supplies, help the students create and decorate a scary face on one of the paper bags. The students can use the bag as a hand puppet as each child tells you a story behind the scary face. You may need to ask questions to help the students express themselves. Write their stories on the back of their paper bags.
  6. Have the students put aside their scary faces and come together to create a class list of “feel good” emotions—such as happy, silly, smart, friendly, safe, warm, cozy, loving, kind, and caring.
  7. Next, have students use their second paper bag to create faces that express one of these emotions. How could these emotions help get rid of the scary faces? Write students’ comments on the back of these paper bag puppets.

Going Further:

  • Have the students play with their puppets in pairs or small groups to act out little dramas that show emotions and help scare away the scary faces. Leave the puppets where students can use them on their own to work through and share their feelings.
  • For additional activities for expressing feelings, go to the Building Blocks Activity Book and use the activities called “I Feel Many Different Ways,” (PDF 2.03MB) pages 5 and/or 17.


National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • “Impact of Trauma” provides parents and caregivers with resources to help children cope and recover from traumatic and stressful experiences. 

National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

Real WarriorsReal Battles

American Art Therapy Association

  • Provides resources and tools for children to receive timely, appropriate services that promote effective learning, social interaction, self-esteem, coping, and resilience.

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Updated on 3/22/2014