Mental Health Curriculum Guides
By Tatiana Broukhim and Rishelle Maman, LCSW
BOOK 1: Panda’s Helping Paw (Depression)
Let's Talk About Bunny
We all feel sad or upset sometimes. For some people, these feelings can be really strong and last for a long time, like for Bunny in the story. It’s always a good idea to share your feelings with your parents or teacher. If you know someone who might be hurt on the inside, you can help too! Help can be big or small. You can do something they enjoy, like when Panda and his friends played soccer with Bunny. You can help with tasks and chores, like when Panda made Bunny the cake. You can even just let them know that you are there if they need help – like Panda and his mom did at Bunny’s burrow. Most importantly, remember to be kind to others, because you never know what they may be feeling on the inside.
1. Have you ever felt sad or hurt on the inside, even for a short time? What helped you feel better?
2. What would you do to help a friend who’s feeling like Bunny does?
3. Who can you ask for help if you are ever feeling sad or hurt?
4. When you feel sad or hurt on the inside, is there a place or places in your body where you hold that feeling? (example: your head, your heart, your tummy)
5. Can you bring to mind something or someone that makes you feel happier when you are feeling sad or hurt?
1. Music Time (All Ages)
i. Ask the child to name their favorite songs and put together a playlist that makes their body and mind feel good
ii. Encourage them to stand up and dance to the rhythm or have a dance party with their favorite stuffed animal
iii. They can also take one of the coloring pages and color while listening to their favorite tunes
2. Rainbow Walk (All Ages)
i. Take a walk with the child and ask them to notice things around them that are the colors in a rainbow
- Ex: Red on the sidewalk, Yellow sign, Green leaves on a tree, Purple flowers etc…
ii. Invite them to share what they notice and how it makes them feel
3. Feelings Word Search (Grades 1-3)
i. Read the words in the word bank out loud together. Ask the child to circle the words that they are feeling today
ii. Next, ask them to put a check mark next to the words that they felt in the last week
iii. Then, ask them to find the words below in the word search
Mad, Happy, Tired, Nervous, Scared, Cranky, Shy, Sad, Afraid, Worried, Excited, Silly, Proud, Calm, Confused, Excited, Impatient, Loved, Frustrated, Annoyed, Busy, Friendly
iv. Invite the child to share these feelings and the thoughts behind them with you
4. What’s in My Control? (Grades 1-3)
i. Create two concentric circles with the inner circle labeled “Things in My Control" and the outer circle labeled “Things out of My Control”
ii. Read the following statements with the child
- My words (IMC)
- Other people's actions (OOMC)
- How I treat others (IMC)
- The weather (OOMC)
- Other people's choices (OOMC) - Following the rules (IMC)
- How other people feel (OOMC)
- My choices (IMC)
- Things that already happen (OOMC)
- How I handle my feelings (IMC)
- What other people think of you (OOMC)
- If I play fair (IMC)
iii. Discuss if they think the statement is in their control or out of their control “In my control” means things they can focus on and change “Out of my control” means things they cannot change
iv. Have the child cut and glue or rewrite the statements in the circle in which they think it belongs. Discuss their choices.
BOOK 2: Elephant's Big Climb (Anxiety)
Let's Talk About Elephant
We all feel worried or anxious sometimes. For some people, these feelings can be really strong and happen a lot, like for Elephant in the story. It’s always a good idea to share your feelings with your parents or teacher. If you know someone who might be feeling worried or anxious, you can help too! Help can be big or small. You can ask how they are feeling, like when Hedgehog asked Elephant. You can do calming activities, like yoga that Hedgehog’s mom does, and like when Hedgehog and Elephant took five deep breaths. You can even just let them know that you are there if they need help – like Hedgehog and her friends cheering on Elephant to climb the rope. Most importantly, remember to be kind to others, because you never know what they may be feeling on the inside.
1. Have you ever felt worried or anxious on the inside, even for a short time? What helped you feel better?
2. What would you do to help a friend who is feeling like Elephant does?
3. Who can you ask for help if you are ever feeling worried or anxious?
4. Where in your body do you feel most worried? Do you ever feel butterflies in your tummy, like Elephant?
5. Can you bring to mind something or someone that makes you feel calm when you are feeling worried or anxious?
1. Belly Breathing Exercise (All ages)
i. Encourage the child grab their favorite stuffed animal
ii. Invite them to lay down in a comfortable space and put the stuffed animal on their belly button. You can do this with them.
iii. Instruct them to use their breath to fill their belly with air
iv. Challenge them to see if they can make their stuffed animal move up and down on their belly with their breath
2. Yoga Poses (All ages)
i. Help the child find a space where they can be calm and relaxed
ii. Encourage them to try each of these poses for 5 - 10 seconds before going to the next. You can try them together
iii. Ask which pose makes them feel the most calm
i. Please see page at the back for poses
iii. Use the characters from the book to mimic poses
3. 5 Senses Grounding (Grades 1-3)
a. Grounding helps put our mind and body in touch with the world around us. This brings us back to the present moment.
i. Encourage the child to sit in their favorite comfy spot
ii. Ask them to notice how their body is feeling at this present moment
iii. Prompt them to name these sensations below out loud
- Notice 5 things you can see
- Notice 4 things you can touch
- Notice 3 things you can hear
- Notice 2 things you can smell
- Notice 1 thing you can taste currently or recently tasted
iv. Now ask them to tune into how their body is feeling
4. Positive Affirmations (Grades 1-3)
a. An affirmation is a positive statement we say about ourselves
i. Read the affirmations below out loud with your child
- I am patient
- I am enough
- I am kind
- I am proud of myself
- I am capable
- I am brave
- I am valued
- I am strong
- I am unique
- I can do hard things
- I can make a difference
- I love myself exactly the way I am
ii. Help them choose the 3 affirmations they connect with
iii. Ask them re-write them on a sticky note
iv. Plan with the child where they should place this sticky note so they can read it everyday, such as their desk or cubby, or their bathroom mirror or bedside table
v. Each morning and evening, encourage the child to say these affirmations out loud
Cat: Get down on your hands and knees. Make sure your back is flat, similar to a table. When you breathe out, relax your neck and round your back towards the ceiling. When you breathe in, return to the table top position
Cow: Get down on your hands and knees. Make sure your back is flat, similar to a table. When you breathe, arch your back, letting your belly sink towards the ground, and lift your head toward the sky. When you breathe in, return to table top position.
Downward Dog: Plant feet firmly, bend forward and place your hands on the ground. Make your body into an inverted V pointing towards the sky. Keep your legs straight and your back straight, and relax your head and neck. Try to hold it for 10 - 20 seconds.
Flamingo: Starting on two feet, balance on one and gradually lift one foot, bending at the knee and lifting your foot until it is even with your knee, like a flamingo stands. Reach hands to the side or slightly to the back. Hold for a moment and then switch legs.
Mouse: Sitting back on your feet with your knees bent, bend your body forward from the waist until your head softly touches the floor. Stretch your arms in front of you and take several deep breaths. Slowly move your arms to your sides while resting on the floor.