Helping Kids in Troubled Times

When worries have students down, introduce them to Dennis B.

When worries have students down, ease their distress with fun and functional teaching tools.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

Helping Kids in Troubled Times – More worrisome world news can make even the brightest of us feel troubled.

When you sense that a number of students feel anxious for whatever reasons, begin the school day with a simple question…

Worry got ya down?

Hold up a poster that features a funny face with a frown.

You’ll grab the class’ attention…

now the key question is what can you do to help ease students’ distress?

Power a Flower with Sun Power – Only through our imagination can we make sunshine in our classrooms during troubled times.

Help put sunny smiles on the faces of K – 2 kids after they’ve endured a difficult situation, including instructional activities, such as taking a test.

Show students a bendable flower, like one made of felt with wire underneath on the stem (available in dollar stores or toy stores.)

Tell the class that you found the flower in your “pretty pretend garden” and you picked it because it looked bent down, sad and worried.

“Bent down, you look worried, pretty flower.”

Invite the class to “brighten the flower’s day by bringing the sun inside to give it warmth and care.”

Make the Sun’s Magic Shine in Class – Continue your hold on the class’ attention by asking the children to “help you make the magic of the sun shine on the flower you’re presenting.”

Invite one or two kids to come to where you’re standing with the flower in hand and hold the stem with you.

Count in a loud voice with the class…”One, two, three, little flower, listen to me, the magic of the sun’s warmth and care will chase away your worries and make you happy!”

Engage Kids with a Touch of Drama – Add a touch of drama to this activity to emphasize the importance of chasing away worry.

Ask the class to repeat the “chant” to the flower and then, with the flick of your hand… bend the stem so that the flower stands tall in troubled times.

Point out how the flower now looks worry-free and happy! See if your students agree.

“Ahhh…standing tall…now the flower looks worry-free and happy!”

Hang up a Worry Wash Line – Third and fourth grade classes will enjoy “washing away worries” with this clever classroom clothes line.

Stretch a cord above a section of your classroom and clip clothes pins with blank note cards to the line.

Tell your students when you first hang the line that you’ve added a Worry Wash Line to your room.

Announce that it’s open for anyone to pull off a card, jot down a worry, write one’s name or not, and clip it back on the line to “wash the worry away.” When your students are not with you, read the cards that students have clipped on the line to get a better sense of their concerns.

Find Friends for Dennis B – Challenge older elementary students to “help a fictitious character named ‘Dennis B’ become more worry-free.”

Introduce Dennis B with a poem that I’ve “written in his honor”


Dennis B vowed that he would live his life worry-free.

When problems tested his resolve, Dennis B said problems can be solved.

“Look,” Dennis said with poise, “let’s find solutions, not make noise.”

“Nashing teeth ’til jaws are sore will only make us worry more!”

“Simply put,” said Dennis B, “I feel much better worry-free.”

Make a Worry-Free Bulletin Board Find a large funny face of a character that you name Dennis B and post it with a name tag header on a classroom bulletin board.

Post blank sticky notes all around the new class character.

Invite students to use the replaceable notes to offer Dennis B ideas on how to be worry-free.

This…a writing activity that may engage reluctant writers.

Create a Contract to Worry Less Help kids in troubled times by creating individual contracts with students that agree for them to worry less.

Format the contract any way that suits your students, but be sure to include a line for the child to write his or her name, age, and points of agreement, including a promise to bring persistent worry to the attention of a trusted adult.

In a world of 24/7 news cycles that often report tragedies, smart teachers find creative ways to address children’s worries.

We are empowered to help kids in troubled times.

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

Talk with you again soon,

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.
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