Search form

Be the Boss: A Lesson Plan on Managing Feelings

EducationWorld is pleased to feature this K-6 language arts and communication lesson adapted from School Volunteer Handbook: A Simple Guide for K-6 Teachers and Parents, by Yael Calhoun and Elizabeth Q. Finlinson (Lila Press, 2011).

The lesson plan, shared with the permission of the authors, is a great example of a short activity with simple instructions that appeals to a diverse group of parent interests and teacher needs. The activity is an ideal one for implementation by classroom volunteers.

See other School Volunteer Handbook activities:
A Lesson in Character: Connect With Yourself
Lesson to Celebrate Diversity: The Unity Necklace
Just Add Water: Science Experiments With H2O

The book (including two CDs, one of all the handouts and one of the GreenTREE Yoga 5-minute classroom yoga breaks) contains more than 50 activities and lessons, retails for $25 (with free shipping) and is available on Amazon

About the authors

Yael Calhoun, MA, MS, RYT, is an author and educator who has taught preschool through college. She also has worked as an environmental planner and has written over a dozen books. Currently, she is a cofounder and the Executive Director of GreenTREE Yoga, a nonprofit committed to bringing the benefits of yoga to diverse populations.

Elizabeth Q. Finlinson, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked as a school therapist, volunteer coordinator, and as a private practitioner specializing in children and families. She teaches character education and physical education and is an active school volunteer.



  • To create a forum in which students can identify and share feelings in a supportive environment.
  • To give students the power to change a feeling state.

Time: 30 to 40 minutes

This exercise can offer students the tools and a forum in which to:

  • Identify and name feelings;
  • Strengthen their vocabularies for expressing feelings;
  • Calibrate their feelings;
  • Feel empowered to manage their feelings; and
  • Change their feeling states.

Boundary Note:  If someone offers an inappropriate behavior as an example ("I kick my dog when I am angry"), simply do "Thumbs Up/Thumbs down." Seeing the group response is sufficient to let both that person and the class know that such behavior is not acceptable. Remember, it is your responsibility to report abuse and to be an advocate for a child disclosing harmful actions.


Feeling Guy Sheet
Responsible Action Sheet (I Am the Boss of My Feelings)


Copies. Make copies of both sheets for students.

List. Write the following list of feeling words on the board.







The Activity:

Part 1:  Feeling Guy (20 minutes)

1. Name your feeling. Let's look at the list of feeling words. That's a lot of feelings we can have. Is there a feeling you see that you felt yesterday or today? Sometimes it takes practice to figure out how you feel. I find that a feeling word pops into my head when I close my eyes and put my hand over my heart. See if that works for you. When you have identified your feeling, write it in the heart of your Feeling Guy (pass out Feeling Guy Sheet).

2. Draw your feeling face. Now draw a face on the Feeling Guy to match how you felt inside. Does your face match how you felt inside?

3. Rank your feeling. On your Feeling Guy’s left hand, write the number 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 to show how much you felt this way. For example, if you felt a little sad, write the number 1. If it is the saddest you have ever felt, write the number 5. It may help you to hold out your fingers as you decide.

4. Share the feeling. Think of someone you might want to share your feeling with. Write down the name of the person in the Feeling Guy's right hand. You can even share your feeling with your stuffed animal or pet. A lot of people feel better after sharing their feelings.

5. Take responsible action for your feelings. Make sure to stress the idea that they can make choices. Did you know that you can choose how to respond to feelings? Remember to respond in a way that is kind to yourself and others. Write or draw your idea.


Part 2:  Responsible Actions (10 minutes)

Note:  This following activity shows students that they have the power to choose their responses to a feeling. It also gives them the opportunity to calibrate, within this safe social setting, if their behavior is acceptable or not.

a. Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down (TU/TD)

Now let's help each other. Let's play TU/TD: Read the following and play the TU/TD game.

  • When I get angry, it helps me feel better if I yell at my brother.
  • When I feel sad, it helps me feel better if I bounce a ball.
  • When I feel bored, it helps me feel better when I hold my favorite stuffed animal.
  • When I feel tired, it helps me feel better to close my eyes and listen to music.
  • When I feel mad, it helps if I pick on someone.
  • When I feel jealous, it helps me feel better to put someone else down.
  • When I feel lonely, it helps me feel better to go play with my hamster.

b. Your Turn

Pass out the Responsible Action Sheet. Explain that you are not going to collect it, but that everyone will fill it out. After it is completed, provide students the opportunity to share one thing they have written. Play TU/TD, if appropriate.

c. Tools to go. A part of growing up is learning how to "Be the Boss of Your Feelings." Emphasize that it is normal to experience many feelings, and remind students they can develop tools to help them express and manage their difficult feelings. Offer the following challenges:

The Smile Challenge:  Suggest that next time students are feeling sad or grumpy, they smile at someone or try to make someone laugh. Tell them to notice how making someone laugh or smile makes them feel and to let you know.

The Breathing Challenge:  Who controls how you breathe? That's right, you do! So here is a challenge. Next time you are upset, feeling nervous, or can't get to sleep, take your hand and put it on your heart or your tummy. You may like to close your eyes as we count five breaths. With each full breath, that's one breath in and one breath out, press one finger, and then the next, against your tummy. Let's do this five times with long, slow, easy breaths." After the five breaths, say, "Open your eyes. Do you feel better? Tell your teacher if it works for you. Maybe you can all do it as a class if you need to take a break, to turn the day around, or to get ready for a test.”

The “Bee Breath”:  If you start to feel angry or upset, sit quietly with your hands in your lap. Close your eyes and make an angry face. Then take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, hum or buzz that angry bee out. Keep buzzing using all your breath. Now make a happy face, breathe in again, and make a happy humming or buzzing sound as you breathe out. Keep buzzing until you feel that the angry bee is gone.


To Extend the Lesson:

  • Using the Feeling Guy Sheet, invite students to act out their feelings and responsible actions.
  • Ask them to develop a new list of responsible actions using the Responsible Action Sheet.
  • Post the students’ Feeling Guy sheets on a bulletin board.


Education World®             
Copyright © 2011 Education World