5th Grade Coping Skills Lesson

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At my school, the jump from 4th grade to 5th grade is a big one. Middle school students switch between classrooms, have more difficult coursework, are responsible for their own laptops at school, and are dealt a significantly bigger pile of homework every night. Once you add on the increase of girl drama, insecurities, and typical social woes of being a pre-teen, it’s no surprise that this is a stressful time for these children. As a continuation of my 4th grade coping skills cube lesson, I teach my 5th graders stress management techniques that they certainly need with all of the added stress of adjusting to life as a middle school student.

To begin my lesson, I induce feelings of stress in the students so that those emotions are fresh as we delve into our discussion. Last year, I presented this lesson during the time of year the 5th graders were learning about and writing research papers. That particular class had a very difficult time with the research process, so I used that very real example in my lesson. I started off that year’s lesson by saying, “Before we begin, Mrs. Austin wanted me to remind you that you need 6 more sources for your research paper by the end of the day today.” {Which they didn’t}. Of course the whole class freaked out at that moment, to which I responded, “So, today, we’re going to be talking about STRESS.” Most of the students calmed down once they realized what I had done, but it still took a little explaining for all of them to understand they didn’t really need more sources for their papers  😛

I ask the students to hold onto the feeling they experienced when I told them about their fake research assignments as we talk about stress and coping skills. Using the board, I write the following categories: “How We Feel,” “Triggers,” and “Coping Skills.”

We go through the physical signs of stress, the different triggers of stress for those students, and ways they can deal with stress when it arises. I write all of their responses on the board.


After our discussion, I have the students write everything and anything that causes them stress on a blank piece of paper. When everyone is done, we all fold our papers into airplanes and take turns throwing them in the trashcan. I have to say, even as an adult, doing this activity really helped me feel a little calmer and at peace.


I end the lesson by taking the students through a guided meditation. I tell them to close their eyes and get in a comfortable position {which may include lying on the floor} as I turn out the lights and read from this meditation script.

I feel like the students really responded to this lesson, and I even had kids tell me when they reached 6th grade that it still helps them to make paper airplanes with their stressors to either rip or throw away.

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