Bag of Tricks

Bag of Tricks

As we work to explore our different feelings in 2nd grade, we must also know what to do with our feelings, especially the ones that make us feel not-so-good.

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I think the main one we see in boys (mostly because it’s physically present) is how to deal with anger. I don’t feel like calling it anger management is really appropriate. In grad school, I read an article that talked about how when we teach kids to manage their anger instead of embracing it, we are really doing them a disservice. We are teaching them that anger is something to be ashamed of and instead of letting it out in healthy ways, we tell them they should lock it up and ignore it. I prefer something more “fluffy,” I call it simply, “dealing with your mad feelings/thoughts.” Sometimes I even find myself saying, “Well, what will you do with those murky thoughts?” I’d much rather give them a bag of tricks than expect them to hide their anger.

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Here’s my bag of tricks . . .

Bag of Tricks

Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Communication Skills
Character Skills: Fairness and Responsibility
Adapted From Puzzle Pieces.

We started by sharing all the things that make us angry.

Then, I asked how many of them had gotten in trouble for being mad. Every hand went shooting in the air. I even got a few giving each other dirty looks across the circle.

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I had to explain how my question had tricked them. We don’t get in trouble for being mad, we get in trouble for what we do when we are mad. Can you picture all the little light bulbs that went off?

I had them share again what made them mad, but this time they had to tell me what they did afterwards. Most told stories about soccer, recess, and siblings. Most instances involved, pushing/shoving, throwing balls in each other’s faces, yelling, and crying.

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I compared being mad to water in cup.

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  1. Pour water into a cup. Tell them that the cup is themselves and the water is their angry feelings.
  2. Tell them that we all have angry feelings inside of us and that is okay as long as we know what to do with our angry feelings.
  3. Now pour water into a cup with holes over a small box of sand.
  4. Tell them that when we hit, cry, or throw a fit when we are mad, we make a mess of the situation and that’s when we get in trouble. Show them how the water made a puddle of mud. Use some of the student examples of being mad and getting in trouble to the puddle of mud.

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All we need, to be sure we don’t make a mess with our mad feelings, is a bag of tricks!

I read my boys this book I got in my play therapy kit called, “I’m Mad.” It’s an entire series of different feeling books written by Elizabeth Crary. They are great and interactive.

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I had the boys listen and make a mental list of the ways the girl in the story got out her mad feelings.

  • Get out your mad feelings physically, like my punching a pillow or riding your bike
  • Squish playdoh on a table
  • Talking about your feelings to someone you trust
  • Sing a funny Un-Mad song
  • Ask how other people change their feelings around
  • Plan something fun to do

At the end of the story, we discussed all the different choices the girl had in the story that wouldn’t get her in trouble when she was mad.

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I told the boys that even adults have to do this, and I pulled out my bag of tricks.

Bag of tricks:

  1. Talk to someone about your mad feelings
  2. Do something you enjoy to calm your mad feelings down or picture yourself in your happy place
  3. Count to 10
  4. Think about the problem an another way – like what can I do to make this better?

photo 1Then we did the water example again, this time I placed a bowl in the sand.

  1. Pour water into a cup again. Remind them that the cup is themselves and the water is their angry feelings.
  2. This time, place the bowl into the sand. Explain that the bowl is our bag of tricks. It catches our angry feelings to be sure we don’t make a mess or get into trouble.
  3. Now pour water into a cup with holes over the bowl.
  4. Have them look to see how the bag of tricks caught all the angry feelings.

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To end the lesson, we made a mad plan. We split our paper in half. On one half, we drew a picture of something that makes us mad. On the other half, we drew a picture of what we plan to do when we have angry feelings.

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What’s your mad plan? Is there a trick you know that we could add to our bag?

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