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Lesson Three – Catch Your Thoughts


Lower Primary

Our Internal Dialogue 







Students will:

  • Distinguish the difference between thoughts and feelings

  • Identify I Can Thoughts and I Can’t Thoughts

  • Understand the power of our internal dialogue


KEY VOCABULARY: feelings, thoughts, self-talk, attention, I can thoughts, I can’t thoughts, positive thoughts, negative thoughts, mindset.






Background Information


Our internal dialogue (self-talk) is powerful and affects our feelings and behaviour throughout the day. Self-talk is a person’s inner voice; a personal narrative of thoughts while they are conscious.  Our internal dialogue combines conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases and is how the brain interprets and processes daily experiences. Lesson three begins by teaching students the difference between their thoughts and their feelings.  Students learn that they are in control of their thoughts.  Teaching children that they are in control of their thoughts is empowering and can improve self-esteem, increase motivation, lead to a growth mindset and improve overall mental health and well-being.  Lesson 3 develops children’s awareness of their inner critic and how their internal dialogue influences their feelings and behaviour.  The lesson encourages children to pay attention and listen to their inner voices.  Students are encouraged to ‘catch’ these messages and decide if they are positive or negative messages. In the program, we refer to positive thoughts as ‘I Can’ thoughts and negative thoughts as ‘I Can’t’ thoughts.  Students learn that ‘I Can’t’ thoughts stop them from taking on challenges, enjoying their day and living their life to the fullest.  Teaching children how to change their internal dialogue from ‘I Can’t’ to ‘I Can’ is a valuable life skill. This is not easy, but with practice, this skill can be mastered over time.



Lesson Plan


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Introduce Lesson and Review Previous Lesson

Review the previous sessions by asking students to remember what was covered in the last session. Shape students’ responses to reflect the learning intentions from the previous lesson.  Review Group Guidelines.

Welcome back! Last lesson we had a lot of fun learning ways to help our bodies relax and feel calm when we feel angry. Remember all feelings are OK, there are no wrong or right feelings. We are the boss of our feelings and we decide what we do with our feelings. Last week we practised high five choices. Remember, high five choices help us to calm big feelings. We also learned that our feelings have different levels or intensities and that if you pay attention to the clues your body gives you, you can manage your feelings before your anger rages out of control.


Today we are going to learn the difference between our thoughts and our feelings and how unhelpful ‘I Can’t’ thoughts stop us from enjoying our day. We will learn what helpful ‘I Can’ thoughts are and how they can lead to more positive feelings. Let's start with a gratitude attitude.

Gratitude Attitude (5 minutes) 

Pose the question: Who can tell me what grateful means?

It means you are thankful for what you have. A gratitude attitude focuses on the NOW! Try to pay attention and be thankful for what you already have and not worry about what you don’t have. People with a gratitude attitude are positive, resilient and happy. I will share what I am grateful for first and then I want you to think of what you are grateful for to share with the group.


Ask each student to share something that either made them smile or something that they are thankful/grateful for. This simple activity is training students to be positive and to have a 'gratitude attitude'.


You may like to use a 'talking ball' and have students hold a ball while sharing with the group. They may like to pick a sticker off the ball after they have had a turn, before rolling the ball to a student who has not yet had a turn.

Activity 1: Thoughts Verse Feelings (15 minutes)

I have a challenge for you today.  I am going to think about something in my head and I want you to try and guess what I am thinking about.  I will write it down and show you after everyone in the group has had a guess.  If you can guess what I am thinking, I will organise a TRUCK FULL of your favourite chocolates!  


Ask each student which chocolate or sweet they would like to choose.

Write your thought somewhere that cannot be seen and ask each student to guess what you are thinking.


That was hard, wasn’t it?  I knew no one would be able to guess what I was thinking, which is why the prize was a truckload of chocolates!

Why was it so hard to guess what I was thinking? Allow time for reflection and responses.

No one can hear the talking in our heads. Our thoughts are words we say to ourselves. Thoughts happen all the time and often without us realising it. 


Game: Thoughts or Feelings?

Place question cards around the room. Give each student an answer card.  Students find the question cards around the room. Students read the question card and decide if it is a feeling or a thought and colour the answer on the card.

Our thoughts are different to our feelings.  Thoughts are the words we say to ourselves.  Feelings are what we feel.

Pose the questions: Who can give me an example of a feeling?  Who can give me an example of a thought?


We are now going to play a game called 'Thoughts or Feelings'.  I have placed question cards around the room for you to find.  On each card is a thought or a feeling.  On your answer card, you will need to colour the thought bubble if you think it is a thought and colour the heart if you think it is a feeling.  Make sure you use the matching number.

We are now going to watch a short video together. 




Activity Two: I Can and I Can’t Thoughts (10 minutes)



Because we have thoughts all the time, we usually don’t pay attention to them. They just come to us automatically. We are going to learn how to slow down our thoughts and pay attention to them. Some of our thoughts are helpful and some of our thoughts are unhelpful. If we pay attention to the talking in our head we can ‘catch’ these thoughts to see if they are helpful thoughts or unhelpful thoughts.


What is a helpful thought? Helpful thoughts are ‘I Can’ thoughts. ‘I Can’ thoughts are positive thoughts that encourage us to give things a go, to be positive, and to enjoy our day. Helpful thoughts can make us feel confident, happy and brave.


Pose question: Can you think of an 'I Can' thought?


Write answers on the board.


What is an unhelpful thought?​ Unhelpful thoughts are ‘I Can’t’ thoughts. ‘I Can’t’ thoughts are negative thoughts and they can stop us from having fun, giving things a go and enjoying our day. Unhelpful thoughts can make us feel worried, frustrated, nervous or sad.



Pose the question: Can you think of an 'I Can't' thought?


Write answers on the board.


Remember, just because you think something, doesn’t mean it is true! A thought is just a thought. An unhelpful 'I Can't thought may not be true!

Allocate one corner of the room to ‘I Can’t’ thoughts and another corner of the room to ‘I Can’ thoughts and place the 'I Can' and the 'I Can't' poster in each corner. Play music for the students to dance to.  When the music stops, read out a positive thought or a negative thought.

Let’s play a game to help us learn about 'I Can' and 'I Can’t' thoughts.  I will play music for you to dance to.  When the music stops, I will read out a thought.  If you think it is a negative ‘I Can’t’ thought you need to stand under the ‘I Can’t' sign.  If you think the thought is an ‘I Can’ thought, you need to stand under the ‘I Can’ thought.

Examples of ‘I Can’t’ thoughts

  • I have no friends to play with

  • I can’t do my homework

  • It’s too hard

  • My teacher doesn’t like me

  • I never get a turn

  • I’m not good at Maths

  • I’m having a bad day


Examples of ‘I Can’ Thoughts

  • I’m going to have a good day today

  • This is hard, but I’m going to give it a go!

  • I’m going to find someone to play with

  • Try not to give up!

  • I can do this!

Activity Three: The Power of Our Thoughts (10 minutes)

Half blow up a balloon and hold the balloon with your fingers. Read a situation to the group and ask the students to share what they would think or say to themselves in that situation.  If the student gives a helpful 'I Can' thought, blow up the balloon up a little bit more.  If the student gives an unhelpful 'I Can't' thought, let a little bit of air out of the balloon.

I am going to read to you a situation. Something that may have happened to you before or may not have. I want you to think about what you would think if you found yourself in that situation and share this with our group. For example; if your homework was really hard and you were struggling to complete it, what would you think? Would you think, 'I'm hopeless' or 'this is just too hard for me', or would you think, 'I might need to ask for help'?


  • You are presenting in front of the class and you made a big mistake in front of the class.

  • Your teacher tells you that you did your maths worksheet wrong.

  • It is raining outside. Your parents tell you that you can't go to the park because of the rain.

  • You are sick.  You miss out on your friend's birthday party because you are too sick to go.

  • Your friend is away from school.

  • You get a lot of words wrong on your spelling test.

  • You miss a goal in your soccer/basketball game.

  • You have an important test today.

  • Someone called you a mean name.

  • You weren't invited to someone's birthday party.

The words we say to ourselves make a big difference in the way we feel. When we have helpful 'I Can' thoughts, especially in hard situations, it is like we are blowing up our own balloon filling our minds with confidence and kindness. When we speak negatively to ourselves it is like we are deflating our balloon. We may even look like a deflated balloon with hunched shoulders and a sad face.

Activity Four: Read book ‘I Can Handle It’ by Laurie Wright (5 minutes)

Read the story, ‘I Can Handle It’, by Laurie Wright.  The aim of this book is to try and cement the mindful mantra of ‘I Can Handle It which is a positive ‘I Can’ thought.  Encourage students to join in repeating, I can handle it.

Mute the video so that you can read the story to the group.


positive self talk flower example..png

​In the story when Sebastian faced a challenge he told himself, 'I can handle it'.  Is 'I can handle it' a helpful thought or an unhelpful thought?  Saying, 'I can handle it' to yourself when you are facing a challenge or finding something difficult, can help you to be positive and confident. It is a mantra that you can say to yourself. We are now going to think of more positive mantras or affirmations that we can say to ourselves if we are having unhelpful thoughts or facing a challenge.

Activity Five: I Can! Flower (15 minutes)

Ask students to think of positive mantras or affirmations and write their answers on the board.

We are going to make a positive self-talk flower.  On each petal, you need to write a positive affirmation or mantra. The flower can fold up and fit in your pocket so that if at any time you are having unhelpful thoughts, you can read your positive thoughts on your flower.  Remember, not only is it important to be kind to other people, it is JUST as important to be kind to yourself.

Examples of positive affirmations or mantras include

  • I am loved

  • I am safe

  • I am friendly

  • Every problem has an answer

  • I learn from my mistakes

  • I am calm.I am brave

  • I am kind to everyone

  • I have happy thoughts

  • Problems are challenges to better me

  • I am persistent

  • I am honest

  • I can do anything I set my mind to

  • Today is going to be a great day

  • Mistakes are proof that I am trying

  • I will try my hardest

  • I have a positive attitude

  • I can handle it

  • I like myself the way I am


Students cut and fold their positive-self talk flower (or you may like to cut out the flower to save time, especially for the younger children).

Video - The Reflection in Me

Concluding Discussion (5 minutes)

Our thoughts are very powerful and influence how we feel.  By changing our thoughts we can change the way our day goes.  I Can Thoughts are helpful thoughts that make us feel happy, confident and brave.   I Can’t thoughts are unhelpful thoughts and can make us feel sad, worried and nervous. Next week, we are going to learn about how our thoughts influence our feelings and also how we act, our behaviour.  This week, I want you to pay attention to the talking in your head and see if you can ‘catch’ any unhelpful ‘I Can’t’ thoughts.  Good luck!

Close session: Thank the group for their participation throughout the session.  Encourage them to practice the new skills they learned during the week.  Share with the group an exciting activity that they will do during the next GRIT lesson.

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