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Learning About Anxiety Lesson: Wilma Jean the Worry Machine

by Julia Cook


Grades: K-2

CASEL Standard: Self-awareness:  The abilities to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior across contexts.

Character Education Lesson Objective: To identify worries and how to deal with them


Part 1: 

  • Raise your hand if you ever worry about something.  Everyone worries.  Worrying is a part of life. 
  • Sometimes I worry that I am going to be late, or that I won’t have something that I like to eat for lunch or that I lost something.
  • When people worry, it usually means that they really care about the thing that they are worrying about.  If you worry that you won’t be able to find your favorite toy, it is because you care about it.
  • What do you do when you worry? 
  • Sometimes when people worry, they bite their nails, they play with their hair or they can’t concentrate.
  • Often, you can look at someone’s face and tell that they are worrying.
  • How does your face look when you are worried about something?
  • I am going to give you a worksheet.  You are going to draw a picture of how you look when you are worried.  I have a mirror that you can look in to see what your worry face looks like if you’re not sure.
  • After you draw your picture, we will talk about how our faces look when we are worried.

Part 2: 

  • We are going to be reading a book called, Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook.
  • Read the book.
  • Wilma Jean worries so much that she feels sick.  Do you ever worry that much?  What happens when you do?
  • Have you ever thought “what if” about something?  What happened next?  Wilma Jean goes to school and all of the things that she was worried about were ok. 
  • Wilma Jean’s mom gets really worried about her when she realizes how much Wilma Jean is worrying.  She calls a lot of people to so that they can help Wilma Jean.  What have your parents done to help you when you worry?
  • Wilma Jean’s teacher helps her to see that she has control over most of her worries.  What happens to Wilma Jean once her teacher helps her?

Part 3: 

  • Wilma Jean’s teacher tells her, “Worrying a little bit is a good thing most of the time, but when you worry so much that it keeps you from doing the things that you want to do, we need to figure out a way to help you.”   
  • Wilma Jean told her teacher all of her worries and her teacher wrote them down.  Her teacher then helped her sort them into worries that she can control and worries that she can’t control.  You are going to do the same thing today.
  • You are going to be writing down any worries that you have.  You will then sort them into worries that you can control and worries that you can’t control.
  • We will talk about the worries that you have that you feel like you can’t control.  You might have more control over your worries than you think!
  • Discuss the students’ worries that the feel like they can’t control and help them to work through them.  You can even encourage the use of a worry hat.
  • Remember, everyone has worries and that is normal.  When your worries make it so that you cannot do things that you want to do, then you should ask an adult for help.

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Written by Kimberly Greacen, Education World® Contributing Writer

Kimberly is an educator with extensive experience in curriculum writing and developing instructional materials to align with Common Core State Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy.

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