Lesson plan

Labeling Emotions

In this lesson, students will explore how to use mindfulness to reflect on, label, and express emotions. They will each help design a page for their classroom book on mindfulness of emotions, including tools to cope with strong emotions.
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Students will be able to practice mindfulness of emotions.

(10 minutes)
  • Bring students together, seated on chairs or on a rug.
  • Explain that today they will be learning about emotions.
  • Ask, "What are emotions? What are healthy ways we can manage our emotions?"
  • Show the "Just Breathe" video.
  • Ask, "What were some tools people used in the video when they felt strong emotions?"
(15 minutes)
  • Guide students to sit up nice and tall and to take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Ask them to come to stillness and close their eyes or lower their gaze.
  • Invite them to think of a time when someone made them angry (a 5 on a scale from 1–10).
  • Guide them to notice how they feel in their body.
  • Ask, "What happens in your body when you think of this moment? Do your hands become tight? Are your breaths shorter? Is there tension in your face?"
  • Guide them to feel five deep breaths into their bellies.
  • Count their breaths out loud.
  • Have them notice if the emotion is still in their body and label the emotion as "anger." Tell them to silently say, "Anger," in their minds.
  • Guide them to take a few more deep breaths.
  • Tell them to notice how they now feel in their bodies.
  • Ask, "Do you have softer hands? Is your breath calmer?"
  • Invite them to slowly open their eyes when they are ready.
  • Ask what they noticed and how they feel.
(10 minutes)
  • Show the class the book The Way I Feel, by Janan Cain.
  • Tell them that this book highlights many different emotions.
  • Read the book, and pause throughout to check for student comprehension.
  • Ask, "What were some of the emotions mentioned in the book?"
  • Explain that emotions are always changing. When we feel them in our body and use our breath, the emotion can take its natural course.
  • Share that the lifespan of an emotion in the body and brain is about 90 seconds. The sensations—adrenaline, heat in the face, tightness in the throat, rapid heartbeat—arise, peak, and dissipate on their own.
  • Ask, "What are some tools we can use again to help us when we feel strong emotions?" Remind them that we can use our breath to help manage our strong emotions.
  • Show the “Mindfulness of Emotions” Class Book worksheet to the class, and read through its instructions.
(20 minutes)
  • Dismiss students back to their seats, and have them complete the worksheet.

Enrichment:

  • Ask advanced students to design two pages with mindfulness tools, rather than one, for the class book. (Note that it is okay for students to choose the same emotion.)
  • Students can also compare and contrast different emotions on their page.
  • Ask someone who finished early to design a cover for the class book.

Support:

  • Provide one-on-one or group support to some students during the independent working time.
(5 minutes)
  • During the independent working time, walk around the room and individually check in with students to gauge their comprehension of labeling emotions.
  • Ask them how they can work with and manage strong emotions, so that they can take their natural course.
(10 minutes)
  • After students finish their worksheets, have them hang up their work around the room.
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Invite them to walk around the room to notice the work of their classmates.
  • Afterwards, join the class back together in a circle.
  • Explain that all the pages will be compiled into one class book about mindfulness of emotions.
  • Ask students to write on a piece of paper a title they would like to give their class book.
  • Ask, "Where would be a good place to keep the book, so that we can go back to it at any time?"
  • Tell the class that they will vote on the title of the book at another time.
  • Encourage students to use the tools of pausing, labeling, and breathing when they may feel a strong emotion.

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