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Watch Me Grow Stronger

To develop resiliency, children need to be able to rely on loving caregivers and a supportive community as protective factors. Protective factors are conditions or attributes in a child’s life that would reduce the negative impact of adverse occurrences and situations, such as close and positive family relationships and encouragement in, and positive feedback for, a child’s pursuits and accomplishments. Teachers are uniquely positioned to nurture a child’s aspirations and need to consistently learn, grow, and accomplish new skills. The ability to regularly acquire new skills allows children to build their confidence and, thus, seek new and more challenging skills. 

Objective: After this classroom activity, children will practice and demonstrate old and new skill sets as they continue to grow.

Teaching Note: It is recommended that you spread out the following activities over several days and allow students to monitor their growth over time.


  • Chart paper
  • Art supplies: crayons, markers, glue sticks, two sheets of paper per child, yarn
  • One copy per child of Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Activity Book’s “Power Positive” activity, page 16 (available in Spanish—”Pienso positivamente,” page 20)
  • Building Blocks Sing-Along Music CD’s “Power Positive” song and a paper copy of the lyrics (available in Spanish)
  • Boom box and/or computer with speakers
  • Playground equipment: slides, jump ropes, balls
  • Space to run and jump (indoors and/or outdoors)


  1. Gather students in a circle and ask: “What can you do now that you could not do when you were younger?” You may have to give them prompts, such as could they catch a ball, ride a big wheeler, tie their shoes, or go down the big slide. Write their responses on the chart paper.
  2. Then, from the list of “skills,” ask them to choose something that they cannot do now but want to learn to do. Whom would they ask to help them learn the skills?
  3. Take the class outside to the play area, and have students demonstrate to the class something they can do with confidence. Then ask the students to try to teach a classmate this skill. Explain to the children that they do not have to be successful when they first try the skill; they can aim at getting a little better each time they try.
  4. Take the students back inside the classroom. Ask: “What did you learn that was new? How did it make you feel?” (Answers will vary, but may include “strong,” “good,” “smart,” “big,” or “like a Power Ranger.”) Write their responses on the chart paper. Display the lyrics to “Power Positive,” and play the song. Have students walk/dance to the music and sing the refrain. Then revisit their list of responses about learning something new. Add any new feelings to the chart list.
  5. Read aloud the responses above. Then distribute the art supplies, and ask the class to make art based on how learning something new made them feel. Ask volunteers the questions below:
    • —“Why did you put what you did in your picture?”
    • —“What colors did you use to express your feelings?”
    • —“Which words from the chart would you add to your picture?”
  6. Display the artwork, the chart, and the lyrics from “Power Positive” in the classroom.
  7. WRAP-UP: Send each child home with a copy of Building Blocks for a Healthy Future Activity Book’s, “Power Positive” (page 16). Include a note asking families to do the activities with their children, preferably more than once in order to measure growth in the child’s skills. This activity helps children to recognize their own skills and, thus, to increase their competence and confidence over time.

Going Further

  • In the above activity, students can illustrate their competence and build their confidence by sharing and learning new skills. To continue to strengthen your students’ self-confidence, use Building Blocks’ “Building Self-Confidence in the Classroom”Lesson Plan.
  • As students help one another learn new skills,conflicts may occur. If so, use Building Blocks’“Conflict Resolution For Kids” activities to help you resolve any issues.

Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Promoting Protective Factors for In-Risk Families and Youth: this brief reviews the importance of protective factors in working with the in-risk populations.

State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Heart of Learning: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success is a handbook that provides educators with insightful wisdom and valuable information for working with students whose learning has been adversely affected by trauma in their lives.

National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
Creating Compassionate, Trauma-Informed Schools to Foster Resilience Webinar PowerPoint slides discusses the research behind adverse childhood experiences and why building resilience is important. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Building Resilience in Children and Youth Dealing with Trauma” discusses the kinds of trauma that children can face and includes facts related to a lack of resiliency.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Future

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Updated on 3/22/2014