From the Ocean Floor to the Classroom Door

I am always trying to find new and innovative ways to help my students navigate the complex world of childhood. I am constantly manipulating strategies I find on social media outlets such as Pinterest and educational blogs. I love to see what other educators are doing and I enjoy trying to adapt these ideas to fit our diverse classroom.

After reading the all4mychild blog post about the interactive book The Angry Octopus by Lori Lite, I was compelled to check it out. After not just reading but experiencing the story with my students, I was inspired to bring that Octopus into our classroom permanently.

In the story, the Octopus becomes angry when his rock garden is ruined over night by some lobsters. We physically see his anger grow in the black cloud of ink that spreads further and further into the surrounding sea. That ink gives us a visual of what anger would look like if we could physically watch it grow. We can feel that growing anger as we watch the waves moving slowly and the screen getting more and more black. We feel mad and confused and we don’t understand why those lobsters messed up that rock garden!

Luckily, we are saved as the Mermaid rescues us with her soothing voice calmly giving the octopus, and his sympathizers, some strategies to manage anger. She suggests more than one strategy ranging from stretches to breathing realizing he may need more than one. She repeats this ritual until the ink has dissipated and the problem is small enough to discuss and solve.

We watched this story unfold as a class on our iPads. We stretched and took deep breaths with the Octopus and related his rock garden to experiences in our own lives. The students took this lesson to heart realizing while they will get angry it is up to them to control their anger before it spreads like the ink cloud in the ocean

After our meaningful discussion we decided to make our own Octopus to remind us how to manage our own anger.

We talked as a class and narrowed down 8 strategies to manage anger. (8 for 8 arms of course) We have everything from taking a break to dancing off our anger. The students were able to give their input and as such they took ownership of the activity and the strategies. We hung the Octopus on our door and refer to it often. I love the non-verbal cue I can give the students and I love watching them use it on their own to self regulate their emotions and the behaviors associated with them. Educational blogs like all4mychild have really transformed my classroom and my teaching alike. Our next lesson is only a click away!

Submitted by: Meghan O’Hara 

Meghan O’Hara is Head Teacher of 1st and 2cd grade at the The Tobin School in Natick, MA. We have had the pleasure of working closely with Meghan over the years and have loved watching the creative ways she integrates social cognition concepts into her classroom curriculum. We are delighted to introduce her as a guest blogger today and look forward to more contributions from her in our future Teacher Features.

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