Lesson Four – Change Your Mindset


Lower Primary

How we Think Controls How we Feel and Act







Students will:

  • Recognise how our thoughts influence our feelings

  • Recognise how our feelings influence our behaviour

  • Change I Can't thoughts to I Can thoughts.


KEY VOCABULARY: thoughts, feelings, behaviour, I Can Thoughts, I Can’t Thoughts, self-talk, mindset.





Background Information


We often think our feelings precede our thoughts.  However, our thoughts and feelings affect one another.  For example, imagine you have a driving test and it is raining.  You may think to yourself, ‘Oh no, it’s raining.  I’m not use to driving in the rain’.  These thoughts will cause you to feel anxious. As your anxiety increases, your worried thoughts increase and the cycle continues.  How do you think your performance will be affected?

In lesson four, students will learn how our thoughts influence our feelings, which in turn influence our behaviour.  This is especially important with regards to students’ beliefs about their learning.   Thoughts and beliefs about learning will have a positive or negative impact on achievement.

Lesson four focuses on how what we think controls how we feel and act.  The lesson also looks at how our perceptions (thoughts) influence our feelings and behaviours.  Teaching children to challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts encourages resilience, perseverance and a growth mindset.


Lesson Plan

1.      Introduce Lesson and Review Previous Lesson

Review previous session by asking students to remember what was covered in the last session. Shape students’ responses to reflect the learning intent from the previous lesson.  Revise group guidelines.

Welcome back.  Last week we learned the difference between our thoughts and our feelings.  We talked about how our thoughts are very powerful.  If we can change negative I Can’t thoughts to positive I Can thoughts, we can change our day.  Positive ‘I Can’ thoughts make us feel confident, happy and brave. Negative thoughts are ‘I Can’t’ thoughts.  ‘I Can’t’ thoughts are unhelpful and they can stop us from having fun, giving things a go and enjoying our day. A negative ‘I Can’t’ thought makes us feel worried, nervous of sad.

Today we are going to learn about how our thoughts influence our feelings and also our behaviour.

2.      A Gratitude Attitude (5 minutes)


Sit in a circle. Ask each student to share something that they are grateful for or something positive that has happened to them this week. This simple activity is training students to be positive and to have a gratitude attitude.

​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.


3.      Activity 1: 'Supposing', by Frances Thomas and Ross Collins (10 minutes)

Read ‘Supposing’ by Frances Thomas.  The aim of this activity is to introduce students to catastrophic thoughts and how thoughts affect our feelings.

Little Monster had a lot of negative ‘I Can’t thoughts.  What were some of his negative thoughts?  How do you think these thoughts made him feel? 

​ Discussion and Activity


On the board write ‘I Can’ Thoughts and ‘I Can’t’ thoughts or use the I Can and I Can't posters from lesson 3. Hand out the Supposing picture cards and taking turns, students sort the positive ‘I Can’ thoughts from the negative ‘I Can’t’ thoughts.  For example, Supposing we bought balloons.  Ask the student if it was a positive ‘I Can’ thought or a negative ‘I Can’t’ thought.  Ask the student how they would feel if they were thinking that thought.

​4.      Activity 2: Our Thoughts Influence our Feelings (5 minutes)

The aim of this activity is to encourage students to reflect on how different thoughts influence their feelings.  Place 4 cards (happy, sad, angry, worried) in each corner of the room. Play music and encourage students to dance to the music. When the music stops read out a thought and ask students to think about how that thought would make them feel and to stand in that corner that describes how they would feel.

Our thoughts affect the way we feel. A thought can make us feel happy or sad.  A thought can also make us feel angry or worried.    I’m going to place 4 different cards that show 4 different feelings, happy, sad, angry and worried in each corner of the room.  I will play music for you to dance to.  When the music stops, I will read out a negative, ‘I Can’t’ thought or a positive ‘I Can’ thought.  I want you to think how that thought would make you feel.  You need to stand in the corner that best describes how you would feel.


Examples of 'I Can' thoughts and 'I Can't' thoughts.

  • I’m hopeless at Math’s

  • I have no one to play with

  • I hope Mum doesn’t forget to pick me up

  • I’m bad at spelling

  • I’m going to have fun at school today

  • No-one listens to me

  • My homework is too hard

  • I never get to have any fun

  • I love watching movies in the rain

  • Mum packed me a vegemite sandwich, I hate vegemite sandwiches.

  • What if I forget my library books tomorrow.

  • I hope I don’t get into trouble.


​​5.       Activity 3: Inside Out (10 minutes)

Today we have learned that our thoughts influence our feelings.  In the next activity we are going to learn how our thoughts influence not only our feelings but also our behaviour or how we act. We are going to watch a clip from ‘Inside Out’.  We will watch it twice.  The second time we watch it I will be pausing the video clip so we can think about how Riley’s thoughts influenced her feelings and her behaviour.

Watch a clip from ‘Inside Out’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX4cF8dS7IA


1.   Pause after Riley knocks the plate off the table.


Pose question: What did Riley think about the broccoli?

 Write: Write in the thought bubble, 'Broccoli is poison'.


Pose question: How did if make her feel?

 Write: Write in the heart, 'Disgusted'.


Pose question: What was her reaction, what did she do?

 Write: Write on the behaviour card, 'She knocked the plate off the table'.


2.   Pause after Riley becomes angry after being told that she can't have dessert.


Pose question: What did Riley think about being told that she couldn’t have dessert?

 Write: Write in the thought bubble, 'That’s not fair'.


Pose question: How did it make her feel?

 Write: Write in the heart, 'Angry'.


Pose question: What did she do?

 Write: write on the behaviour card, 'She yelled'.

3. Pause after Riley plays air plane game.


Pose question: What did Riley think of air plane game?

 Write: write in the thought bubble, 'I love this game'.

Pose question: How did it make her feel?

 Write: write in the heart, 'Happy'.


Pose question: What did she do?


Write: write on the behaviour card, 'Laughed and ate her dinner'.

boy growth mindset.jpg

​6.      Activity 4: Role Plays (10 minutes)

​Place the thoughts, feelings and behaviour card on the wall.  The aim of this activity is to encourage students to reflect on how negative thoughts affect their feelings and actions.

When we expect bad things to happen to us we feel worried and we won’t give things a go.  If we think we can’t do the maths activity, we feel frustrated and give up.  If we think no-one likes us, we feel sad and sit by ourselves. 

Imagine you were at the park and you see a dog.  If you think the dog is cute, you will feel happy and calm and will pat the dog.  If you think the dog will bite you, then you will feel scared and run away.

We are going to take turns acting out different scenarios and thinking about how you would feel and what you would do. First, you read out the scenario and thought under the thought sign, next you act our how you would feel if you were thinking that thought.  Finally, you act our what how you think you would behaviour.


​Student stands under thought bubble.  Child reads or you read scenario: it starts raining just before playtime and you now will have to play inside.  You think to yourself, ‘I hate playing inside’. Ask student to stand under feelings card.  Pose question, how would you feel if you were thinking, ‘I hate playing inside’? Ask student to stand under behaviour card.  Pose question, what to you think you would do if you were angry/sad/frustrated because you were forced to play inside?



  • It starts raining just before playtime and you now will have to play inside.  You think to yourself, ‘I hate playing inside’.

  • Your teacher gives your an activity that is really hard and you think to yourself, 'I Can't do this'.

  • Your best friend is away from school, the playtime bell rings and you think to yourself, 'I have no-one to play with'.

  • Your Mum is late picking you up from school and you think to yourself, 'Mum has forgotten about me'.

  • You are working on your homework, you make a mistake and you think to yourself, 'I'm no good at this, I'm dumb'.

  • You are practising for the school cross country race and think to yourself, 'I'm no good at running'.​ 



7.  Activity 5: Catch Your Thoughts and Change Your Mindset (10 minutes)

If we pay attention to the talking in our head we can ‘catch’ these thoughts and decide if they are positive thoughts or negative thoughts. We are going to play a game of ‘catch’. When you catch the ball, I want you to choose a negative ‘I Can’t’ thought sticker and try and change it to a positive ‘I Can’ thought.

Students stand in a circle. On sticker labels write 'I Can’t' thoughts to stick on to a ball. Students take turns catching the ball and picking an 'I Can’t' sticker.  Read the ‘I Can’t’ thought and ask the student if they can think of how they can change it to a positive ‘I Can’ thought.


  • I’m terrible at spelling

  • It’s going to be a bad day

  • My friends don’t like me

  • I just want to go home

  • This is so boring

  • Why do we have to do this?

  • I can't read this book

  • No-one listens to me

  • I never get to have any fun.


We are now going fishing to catch negative thoughts and practice changing our negative I Can’t thoughts into positive I can thoughts.

​​​Place the fish in the middle of the circle. Students take turns ‘catching’ a fish with their fishing rods.  Read the negative thought on the back of the fish.  Ask the student if they can change the negative thought into a positive thought.

​Examples of I Can’t Thoughts to write on the back of the sea creatures.

  • ​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 Math’s

  • I’m having a bad day


8.      Discussion (5 minutes)

Invite students to share a time when they had a negative thought.  Ask student how the negative thought made them feel and how it influenced their behaviour.

​9.      Concluding Discussion (5 minutes)


Our thoughts are very powerful.  They influence our feelings and what we do.  Our thoughts make a big difference to how we enjoy our day.  If we have negative I Can’t Thoughts we won’t do our best work or enjoy your playtime with our friends.  Sometimes, we have catastrophic thoughts like Little Monster.  These are thoughts about things that are not very likely to happen but can make us feel worried or anxious.  Changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts will make us feel good and enjoy our day.

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.