Tricks to Manage Moodiness

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

Stop, look and listen…listen to the kids you’re with this week at school, in camp, at home or at vacation destinations. Do they seem moody? If the answer’s yes, maybe you need to help them cook up some comfort to manage their moodiness.

Oh, this chocolate pastry looks so tasty!

COOKIN’ UP COMFORT – We can’t always do that literally, although it’s so fun when we can, but you can help kids de-funk and develop a taste for writing and art by inviting them to cook up comfort in an illustrated essay or poem.

The Attention-ology trick here (best-suited for children in grades 3 – 5) is in the question-packed introduction to this activity.

Picture yourself towards the end of a (school, camp, etc.) day saying something like this…“Is it just me, or has it been a long day, one that’s made us a little tired and edgy? Are you finding yourself wishing for something chocolate (like the pastry in my blog pic above) to have until dinner-time? Is your mood making you want macaroni and cheese tonight? Yes! Creamy macaroni and cheese dishes up more than delicious taste…it offers SO MUCH comfort!”

By now the kids’ mouths are watering; it’s time to ask the final two lead-in Qs. You say, “Everyone has a favorite “comfort” food, right.? What’s yours?” At this point you can choose to invite answers out loud, but the goal is to stage some quiet, private writing and illustration time when each child describes his or her favorite comfort food on paper.

Encourage the kids to express through their writing and art when they find themselves hungry for comfort. Reading their work will give you insight into their individual concerns and needs.

Kids’ writing and illustrations are windows into their minds and hearts. Looking through those windows can help you manage their moodiness.

In a blog I posted a few weeks ago (visit I noted the fact that color captures children’s attention. Color also expresses mood. Here’s another attention-getting activity for managing moodiness, one that’s perfect for a rainy day when disappointment reigns because outdoor plans have been cancelled.

CRAZY ABOUT COLOR – Use this introduction: You say, “Oh my, everyone’s looking a bit blue. Let’s play Crazy About Color and see if we can brighten up!” Then you ask the kids to listen for color words as you begin the game. You say, “Grandma says that she feels great. She says she’s ‘in the pink.’ Grandpa got so mad the other day that Grandma says he was ‘seeing red.’ Sometimes on rainy days, like today, I get to ‘feeling blue.’ Then my mom bakes my favorite cake and life seems rosy again.”

Next step…ask the kids if they have a favorite color; we know that most everyone does.

Then ask your group this thought-provoking question (catchy Qs are always good attention-ology tools): “Is your favorite color special because it makes you think of something you like?”

What makes your favorite color special?

Go on to tell the kids that people associate colors with all kinds of things. Point to something that displays a range of colors, like the fabric in my blog pic here and allow time for kids to say aloud what colors are special to them and why.

Experienced teachers know that moodiness in children is often rooted in worry.

One way to help kids deal with worry is to invite them to describe that difficult feeling as a color. “If worry were a color, I think it would be unmistakably grey,” you might say.  Ask your kids what they think to continue the conversation.

You can turn your class discussion into another writing activity by giving your kids sheets of pre-printed paper that lists colors. Leave space between each color for them to write about their personal color associations.

In one of the classes where I played my Crazy About Color game an eight-year old girl wrote a poem about yellow. Feel free to share it.


Yellow is the sun.

It is relaxing

Designing colors,

Yellow is fun.

It is beautiful,

It is loving,

Yellow is the color

For poetry.

For me, the best tricks for helping to manage moodiness (my own, as well as my students’) involve some element of humor. I created an illustrated poem a few years ago when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the many hats I wore at the time. For women who concurrently serve as mothers, teachers, camp counselors, you name it, this poem’s for you…

For all the dads who wear a teacher’s hat too, I invite you to send Mugshots of Fatherhood to share with my blog readers, now in 82 countries around the world.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are acting sluggish in class.

Solution: Show "The BIG E," for ENERGY, an enlarged letter E (or other first letter for the word energy in your alphabet), available in craft stores. Remind the class that energy is a must-have item to get good work done. Tell the class to show you "The BIG E!"

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