This Lesson Plan Grows Happy Hearts
Updated: Feb 23
We’re back to selective attention again. I know. But, it’s really that important. Remember, research identifies it as a powerful skill for supporting happiness. You learned about selective attention in this post. That was followed by how to help kids develop it in this post.
In this final instalment (I promise), we’ll walk through the Happy HeART Lesson. It expands on the Happy Hunting story and the Happy HeART Activity in some important ways.
As a teacher, one of my favourite things to do was create lessons. As a school counsellor, I loved designing activities for small group therapy sessions. It was rewarding to gather books and materials together and share them with kids in a meaningful way. When we wrote Happy Hunting and included the HeART Activity, I had a Lesson Plan in mind from the beginning.
Happy Hunting teaches kids that happy is everywhere if they LOOK for it. As the story unfolds, Liza’s mood shifts from BLAH to happy as she shifts her focus. This is selective attention in action. We included the Happy HeART Activity at the end of the book to help kids practice doing this too. Using their imaginations.
The Happy HeART Lesson is built around the Happy HeART Activity. We’ve added details, variations and extensions.
Purpose Of The Lesson
When kids focus on their positive imaginings, feel-good chemicals flood their bodies. Placing their imaginings in their HeARTs allows them to access (and add to) them anytime. And experience the feel-good chemicals all over again. This is the purpose of the Happy HeART Activity. The purpose of the Lesson is to add some depth and dimension to this activity.
Design Of The Lesson
The Lesson is broken into 2 parts: the BASIC LESSON and the EXTRAS.
The BASIC LESSON consists of 3 simple steps: Talk, Share and Do.
You can then add any or all of the EXTRAS to enhance the BASIC LESSON. There are 7 EXTRA activities.
Let’s take a walk through.
A Step By Step Review of the Lesson
The BASIC LESSON
The first step is Talk. Before reading the Happy Hunting story, you Talk about feelings. Specifically, how feelings feel and look. Six Feelings Cards are included to make this more fun and interactive. Charades anyone?
This is where you can also add the Body Language handout from the EXTRAS section. With it, kids look carefully at 3 different characters to determine how they might be feeling. Nice empathy builder.
The second step is Share. This is where you read the Happy Hunting story. Beforehand, kids predict the theme based on the cover. During, kids watch and listen for changes in Liza’s feelings as she hunts for her happy – selective attention at work.
Optional EXTRAS for this section are Change Spotting and The Who Review.
Change Spotting prompts kids to track changes in a character's feelings. With it you're teaching kids how a change in focus results in a change in feelings. Nice.
We've embedded every happy habit into the story. The Who Review shows you how to introduce each one to kids, using our free Happy Habits Poster as a visual guide. This ALONE is a great use of the story. In fact, it was one of our main goals in writing it (aside from teaching selective attention, of course). Who showed kindness and how? Who tried something new and what happened? I could do this all day.
The third step is Do. Here kids use their selective attention to imagine their sources of happiness. Once you show and share Liza’s Happy HeART as an example, kids create their own.
Before doing, you could apply the happy habit of slowing downing. There are 3 distinct EXTRA activities to help you here: The Guided Mediation, 3 Happy Sketches and Happy Habits HeART Work.
The Guided Meditation leads kids to their special place. A place inside where they keep things that bring them happiness. Using each of their senses, they explore and experience these happy things. After, they can add them to their HeARTs.
The 3 Happy Sketches helps kids plan out their artwork. Artists call these thumbnails. They're fun to do and tend to lead to more meaningful outcomes.
If you’re teaching the happy habits to kids, the Happy Habits HeART Work is for you. Each question relates to a happy habit and the personal responses can fill their HeARTs. This is my favourite real food. My special place outside is. Something fun I love to do is.
I’m a sucker for a wrap-up activity. And if it builds empathy, I’m all in. Introducing our Lesson finisher: Point Of View. Kids pretend they’re one of the supporting characters from the story. From this point of view, they write about their day with Liza – what happened, what did they think, how did they feel. THE END.
Filling, Icing And Sauce
The Happy Hunting story introduces the concept of selective attention to kids. When you LOOK for your happy, it’s everywhere. They practice doing this using the Happy HeART Activity. This Lesson just adds some filling, icing and chocolate sauce to the whole experience. And who doesn’t like chocolate sauce? All made from healthy real food of course.
Post the Happy Hunting Poem + Quotes