Lesson Two Overview - Take Control

Upper Primary

Regulating and Managing Emotional Responses






Students will:

  • ​Recognise the body’s reaction to anger

  • Monitor emotions using the Emotional Thermometer

  • Identify personal strategies to manage anger (High Five Choices)

  • Practise deep breathing, visualisation, yoga and massage


​KEY VOCABULARY: gratitude, grateful, thankful, helpful, high five choices, down low choices, unhelpful choices, deep breathing, visualization, tense, relax, emotional thermometer, amygdala, prefrontal cortex



  • Ball

  • Chatterbox template.  Please note a slight variation from the lower primary chatterbox (download here)

  • Scissors, coloured pencils

  • Poster of Get GRIT's Feelings Thermometer

  • Diagram of brain


​Background Information

​Once students are able to recognise different emotions and feelings, the next step is to teach effective ways to monitor, regulate and manage their emotional responses. Lesson two aims to improve students’ emotional reactions and assist them in developing appropriate skills to self-manage their emotions and behaviours. In today’s lesson, students are taught the difference between feeling tense and relaxed.  Students are taught to recognise the physiological signs of anger.  They learn that their feelings range in intensity.  They are also introduced to high five choices which are effective and positive strategies to manage emotional responses.


Lesson Plan

1.         Introduce Lesson and Review Previous Lesson


Review session 1 by encouraging students to remember what was covered in the last session. Shape students’ responses to reflect the learning intent from the previous lesson.  Review group guidelines.

Last lesson we learned about recognising our emotions so that we can manage our emotions. We talked about how it is OK to feel angry, worried and sad.  We talked about the clues our bodies give us when we experience feelings.  We also talked about the importance of acknowledging other people’s feelings and empathising with them.  Who was able to pass on their smile since we met last?  Today, we are going to learn how to manage our emotions, which is the R in GRIT, Building Resilience. 

Does anyone know what resilience is? 

Resilience is bouncing back from hard and difficult times. Today we are going to learn strategies to manage and regulate the emotion anger.  Let’s begin our lesson with a gratitude attitude, which is how we are going to begin each of our lessons.


2.         A Gratitude Attitude (5 minutes)

Sit in a circle. Explain to the group that we will begin every session with a gratitude attitude. Ask each student to share something that either made them smile or something that they are thankful/grateful for when the ball is rolled to them. 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. Each week you are going to share with the group something that you are grateful for or something positive that has happened to you during the week.


3.       Activity 1: Feelings Thermometer (10 minutes)

Display Diagram of Brain 

In our last session, we talked about the clues or warning signs our body gives us when we experience a range of feelings.  It may seem simple but sometimes feelings are not always clear and they can be hard to work out.  When we experience strong feelings like anger and fear, we can sometimes lose control.  We are now going to learn what happens to our brain when we experience anger.  So let’s put our science hats on and learn about the brain which controls just about everything you do, even when you are asleep! Not bad for something that looks like a big grey wrinkly sponge.

Anger starts in your brain. The part of your brain in charge of your emotions is called the Amygdala (Ah-mig-dah-la).  The Amygdala is like a guard dog.  It is there to protect you from danger by getting you ready to run away, fight or freeze.  When you become angry, neurochemicals are released in your brain.  These chemicals cause the changes that you feel in your body.  These changes make you more alert and give you extra strength and can be useful if you need to protect yourself. 


We also all have a wise owl part of our brain called the Prefrontal Cortex that is the decision making part of our brain.


When our Amygdala, the guard dog part of our brain, is trying to protect us, it takes over the wise owl part of our brain. This makes it difficult to think clearly and realistically. 


When we are angry, our Amygdala switches on automatically ready to protect us.  If we are in danger this is helpful. But often we are angry because we haven’t got what we wanted or we feel like we have not been heard, and not because we are in danger.  When we are angry we need our Wise Owl (our Prefrontal Cortex) so that we can make good decisions.  There are lots of ways to get your Wise Owl working when you are angry so that you are the boss of your brain and the boss of your anger!


When anger is not managed properly all sorts of problems can happen.  What could happen if anger is allowed to rage out of control?

Allow time to respond.

Sometimes, we might experience strong emotions that are high in intensity.  I like to think that our bodies have their own feelings thermometer which measures the intensity of our feelings. 

Display Get GRIT’s Feelings thermometer.

Pose question: If you had an imaginary feelings thermometer, how would you rate how you are feeling right now? Are you on the bottom of the Feelings Thermometer and feeling great? Or are you at the top of the Feelings Thermometer and feeling out of control?  I hope not!

Some feelings we experience are high in intensity.  When our feelings thermometer is really high, you may find it harder to think clearly and take control of your feelings. You may feel like your anger has raged out of control.

Has anyone ever felt like this before?  What happened?

By listening to the clues your body gives you, you are able to identify these feelings before your feelings rage out of control.  It is much harder to calm angry feelings when your Feelings Thermometer rises and your anger intensifies. Sometimes our angry intensifies and our emotional thermometer rises very quickly, if this happens to you, it is really important to try and calm your angry feelings at the very first warning sign.

Using the Feelings Thermometer, students discuss the warning signs their bodies give them at each level on the thermometer and the how their body clues change as their anger intensifies.  Explain to the students that their warning signs may be different to one another.  They may experience a flushed face, shaky hands, sick stomach, clenched fists, narrow eyes, clenched teeth, stomping etc and that their warning signs may become more obvious as their Feeling Thermometer rises.

Our body gives us clues or warning signs to how we are feeling.  Learning to identify the signs will help you to regulate your emotions. When you are feeling angry, remember that you have the power over your body to relax and gain control.  Listen to your body and when you recognise the warning signs, make a high five choice.  What is a high five choice?  Let’s find out.


  4.         Activity 2 : Introduce High Five Choices (10 minutes)

Draw an outline of a hand on the white board.

​Remember all feelings are OK, it’s what we choose to do with our feelings that is important.  We can choose to make a high five choice.  What is a High Five choice? High Five choices are positive ways of expressing our feelings.  High Five choices don’t involve hurting ourselves or hurting other people whether it be with our words or actions.  It is harder to make a high five choice when we are experiencing strong emotions as our prefrontal cortex is offline.

Ask the students to think of high five choices that they can make when they are feeling angry, Write answers on the hand on the white board. It may time out in our bedrooms, patting an animal, running around the backyard, jumping on the trampoline, punching a pillow, crying, listening to music etc. Remind students that a high five choice does not hurt themselves or anyone else.  High five choices will help them to calm angry feelings.​

 5.       Activity 3: High Five Chatterbox (10 minutes)

 We are going to practice some High Five choices today. But first, to help you remember your high five choices, we are going to make a High Five Chatterbox. 

The aim of this activity is to teach students how to regulate and manage strong emotions. Explain to the children that we will be practising some high five choices.

 High Five Chatterbox Instructions.

 1. Cut out the High Five Chatterbox and turn it face down

2. Fold each corner towards the centre so that the numbers and colours are facing you

3. Turn it over and again fold each corner into the centre that the colour names are visable

4. Fold it in half so that the colour names are touching and the numbers are on the outside.  Now open it and fold it in half the other way.

5. Inset your thumb and first finger of each hand (pinching motion) under the number flaps.

6. Close the chatterbox so only the numbers show.


7.         Activity 5: High Five Choices (20 minutes)


We are going to practise some high five choices.  Using your chatterbox, let’s find out which high five choice we are going to practice first.   Taking turns, ask a student to use their chatterbox to learn about a high five choice.  Explain each high five choice as they are selected.  When the chatterbox lands on the following colours, guide the students through the technique.


Orange - take a few deep breaths (Star breathing)

Red - Stretch and breathe (yoga stretches)

White - Imagine your favourite place (Visualisation)


Breathing (Chatterbox ORANGE)

Ask students to stand up.

We are going to learn a simple breathing techniques that most athletes use.  Many athletes practise this technique before they start a race or their game.  Slow deep breathing reduces your heart rate and is the fastest most effective way to calm your amygdala and get your prefrontal cortex back online.  Tensing and relaxing your muscles released endorphins which are natural chemicals produced in our body.  These endorphins are realised into your bloodstream, relaxing your mind and body so that you can think clearly and sharply.

Step 1.  Take 10 very slow, deep breathes.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Try not to get distracted by things happening around you. 

Step 2 – Gradually tense your muscles in your body and count to 10.  Starting at 1 slowly tense your muscles so that once you are at 10 your muscles are as tense as you can get.

Step 3 – Shake your legs and your arms slowly.  Move your head from side to side.  Feel the tension leave your body.


Stretch and Breathe (Chatterbox RED)

​In yoga you learn to stretch and move your body while thinking about your breathing.  This can help relax your body and mind by releasing tension in your  body and relax your mind.  We are going to learn 5 yoga poses that will help you body and mind to relax. 

The Ragdoll Pose

Stand up tall. Take two belly breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth

Breathe in and lift your arms above your head. As you breathe out slowly bring your arms down to the ground.



​Stand up straight and tall like a tree with your hands by your side.  Stretch your legs toward the ground and your head toward the sky. Take a deep belly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pick a spot in front of you to help you keep your balance and to help you concentrate.  Lift your right leg and put it on your left leg (above or below the knee). Now imagine tree roots growing into the ground from your left leg making your leg really strong like a tree trunk. Stretch your arms our like a branch.  If you start to fall, don’t worry!



​Sit up tall on the floor and place the soles of your feet together holding on to your feet or ankles.  Let your knees drop to the floor. Take a deep belly breath in and out while imagining that you are a butterfly.



​Place your hands on your belly while lying on your back.  Take a deep belly breath in and as you breath out point your toes and squeeze your legs together. Push yourself up on your elbows keeping your palms flat on the floor. Next lift your chest as if you were a fish jumping our of the water.  Let your head rest a little on the floor. Beathe in and out and slowly come back to the ground.



​Stand up tall with a straight back

Take a deep belly breath in and stretch your arms out.

Take another belly breath in and lift your leg up so you are balancing on one leg.

Keep your arms stretched to the side to help you with your balance.

Visualisation (Chatterbox WHITE)


Guided imagery techniques can relax and calm our body and mind by distracting and redirecting our attention away from what is stressful. Today we are going to think about your favourite things or your favourite place to be.  Sometimes just by thinking about a place where we feel happy and relaxed can calm angry and worry feelings.  As we begin, close your eyes and take a deep belly breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.  As you continue breathing slow, deep breathes, think of one of your favourite places to go.  It can be anywhere – outside, inside, near us or far away.  It may be somewhere you have been many times, or somewhere you have only been once.  Imagine yourself in your favourite place feeling calm and relaxed, What does it look like?  What can you notice about it?  Does it have any certain sounds?  It is a loud place or a quiet place?  Do you notice any smells there?  Try to think about everything you can notice.  Now, focus on how this place makes you feel.  Does is make you feel calm?  Happy? Excited? Something else?  Really think about this feeling.  Continue to breathe slowly and focus on the feeling it is giving you.  When you are finished, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and then slowly open your eyes.


8.    Activity 6: Massage (5 minutes)

Another technique that many athletes use is sports massage.  Massage relaxes your body and helps you to feel calm again.  You can always ask a family member to give you a massage or if you see someone in your family feeling angry or worried, you can offer to give them a massage.

Pizza Massage

  1.  Knead the pizza. Squeeze your partner’s shoulders gently.

  2. Roll out the dough. Roll hands up and down your partner’s back.

  3. Add tomato sauce. Rub your hands in a circle.

  4. Grate the cheese. Gently claw down your partner’s back.

  5. Chop up the ham and add the ham to the pizza. Gently chop up and down your partner’s back.

  6. Add ingredients to your liking! Tap your partner’s back.

  7. Sprinkle the cheese. Use the tips of your fingers to tap your partner’s back.

  8. Cut your pizza in slices.  It is now ready to eat! Enjoy! Using your hands imagine slicing the pizza.


9.      Concluding Discussion (5 minutes)

 Remember, all feelings are OK, there are no wrong or right feelings and you should never feel ashamed of your feelings. When we are in control of our feelings we are in a better position to make positive decisions. Today, we practised positive strategies like breathing, massage, yoga and visualisation. This week, if you are feeling angry, try and make a high five choice.

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.