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Striking Out Stress: A 'Gallery Walk' Activity

Teacher Lesson




  • Health
  • Mental Health
  • Our Bodies



  • 6-8
  • 9-12


Brief Description

This lesson teaches about stress and how to cope with its effects.



  • identify situations that cause feelings of stress.
  • determine and discuss positive/healthy ways to cope with stressful situations.



stress, holidays, body, psychology, guidance, mental, health, cope, coping


Materials Needed

  • 6 sheets of poster board (or chart paper)
  • 6 crayons or magic markers
  • adhesive tape
  • CD or audio tape player and a selection of lively music
  • chalk


Lesson Plan

Discuss with students the definition of stress. Write students thoughts on a chalkboard or chart as they express them. After a brief period of sharing, review with students the ideas they have offered.

Emphasize that stress can cause powerful feelings, as well as biological changes in the body. Allow students to brainstorm some feelings and biological changes that stress can cause. Write their responses on a board or chart.

Students responses have no doubt included ideas related to the "fight or flight" theory of stress response. If not, introduce this theory. You will find useful resources on the Internet, including The Fight or Flight Response.


Next, arrange students into six groups. Position each group in an area of the classroom and tape a sheet of poster board to the wall by each group. Each poster should feature one of the headings below:

  • Situations that Make Me Angry
  • Situations that Make Me Frustrated
  • Situations that Make Me Worry
  • Situations that Make Me Happy
  • Situations that Take a Lot of Time
  • Situations that Take Money

Tell each group they have 1-2 minutes to write down their responses to the situation on the poster in front of them. You might play music (something lively) while the students are engaged in the activity.

When the designated time is up, have students move to the poster to their right. Allow two more minutes to respond to the situation at the top of the poster that is now in front of them.

Continue rotating until each group has had a chance to write their responses to the situations on all six posters. Then have a spokesperson from each group read the responses on the poster in front of them. Discuss similarities, insights, or perceptions related to the ideas listed. Talk about which responses are positive stressors and which are negative stressors.

Have students return to their seats. As a class, brainstorm appropriate and healthy strategies to cope with the stressful situations they wrote about. Students should take notes on those strategies. (You might provide a handout with the six headings and room for notes beneath each).



After the activity and discussion, quiz students about appropriate strategies for dealing with stress. You might pose specific situations and have students suggest appropriate responses. Alternatively, students might role-play appropriate responses to stressful situations.


Submitted By

Andrea W. Petho, Mahwah High School in Mahwah, New Jersey


Last updated 04/18/2015


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