Whatever you teach, you will find a place for stress management within its framework. Stress management is vital, but few students receive lessons in stress management.
This stress management lesson plan targets elementary grades. In a separate article, we will present a stress management lesson plan for secondary students.
Stress Management Lesson Plan
The steps that follow present a simple, basic stress management lesson plan.
1. Subject: Interdisciplinary; Social Studies; Language Arts/Writing
2. Duration: 2-3 days
3. Description: This lesson works well any time of year as a way for students to learn stress management. Students listen to a story about stress, list possible stressors together, learn to identify personal stressors, and then write a story about personal stress (or draw a picture). Once all stories are completed, students post them on the class bulletin board or web page, and then participate in a discussion of proactive ways to respond to stressors.
4. Goal: Students will understand what stress is, be able to identify stressors in their lives, and respond appropriately. They will consistently exercise good stress management techniques.
5. Objectives: Students will be able to work together to list possible stressors and identify those that are personal. Students will be able to write a brief essay or draw an illustration of personal stress. Students will be able to help each other respond appropriately to stressors and practice stress management.
6. Materials: Paper; pencils or pens; crayons or markers; dictionaries; bulletin board or web page.
7. Procedure – Day 1: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. Then the teacher reads or tells a short story illustrating a child experiencing stress. A story of a school bully can be very useful for a lesson in stress management. The teacher ends the story by defining “stress” and “stressor” in simple terms for the students. (“Stress is how you act when something happens to you. Stressors are the things that happen.”) The teacher gives 2 or 3 examples: (“You must clean a very dirty room before you may play.” “You are having trouble understanding a math problem.”) Then the teacher says, “Let’s brainstorm other things that might be stressors.” Students take turns. Write students’ ideas on the chalkboard. Once everyone has had a turn to share, explain to the students that, “What we do when those things happen is called stress.” Pass out paper and have students list as many personal stressors as they can. Encourage use of the dictionary for spelling.
8. Procedure – Day 2: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. The teacher asks volunteers to define stressor and stress. The teacher tells the students that stress management is a way to make yourself respond appropriately to stress. You manage it. Students write brief essays/stories describing a form of stress in their personal lives, with real examples. Younger students draw pictures to illustrate personal stress. When students have completed paragraphs or pictures, they post their work on the class bulletin board. Students who are apt at word processing type a final draft and post it on the class web page, or print and post it on the bulletin board.
9. Procedure – Day 3: The teacher writes “Stress Management” on the board. Discuss how we each have different stressors and we each respond differently to them. Talk about good ways to control that response: deep breaths; happy thoughts; clenching and unclenching hands. (More ideas elsewhere on this website.)
10. Assessment: Did students cooperate and contribute during the brainstorming process? Did they respect each other’s ideas? Evaluate each student’s final writing or drawing. Did students understand stress management? Did they take time to develop their ideas and submit quality work?
A few days of stress management training is only a start. Follow through with daily reminders. Urge students to help one another with stress management at a practical level.