Coping with Change Activities

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Although coping with change can be challenging at any age, it is especially so for middle and high school students. Use these activities to help your students learn to process emotions, take positive action, and find support to deal with change.

Coping with Change Activities

Middle and high school students face many kinds of change, as they transition from children to teenagers and from teenagers to young adults. Additionally, they may experience unexpected or sudden changes, such as moving to a new place or losing a loved one. They may also face positive changes, such as joining a school sports team, landing their first job, or preparing for college. Use these activities to help your students understand that change is a natural part of life and process the emotions that come along with it. The first activity asks individuals to identify a few changes they've faced. The second activity asks partners to role play supporting one another through a change. The third activity asks teams to brainstorm and learn from changes in the natural world.

Change Charts

  • Material: four-column chart, with columns labeled: (1) change, (2) emotions, (3) actions, and (4) support

In this activity, students will complete a chart that details significant changes in their lives, including a description of the change, the emotions they experienced, the actions they took to cope, and the support they accessed during the time of transition. Before the activity, create a chart with four columns labeled change, emotions, actions, and support. Begin the activity by providing an example of change from your own life. Depending on the level of support your students need, either discuss the four chart categories with students or model completing the chart with your example.

Provide time for students to brainstorm big and small changes they've experienced. Consider providing change categories for added support, such as school, home, physical, emotional, and work. Encourage students to include positive changes on their list, as these can also be stressful experiences. Then, have students select three of the changes they've faced to complete the chart. When charts have been completed, consider partnering or teaming students to share one of their examples. Be sure to offer the option of keeping their work private. Alternatively, specify in the beginning that they need to include at least one change that they are comfortable sharing with others.

Partner Support

  • Material: change scenarios

In this activity, partners will role play scenarios to identify how they can both give and receive support when experiencing change. Begin this activity by brainstorming as a class how students have received support from others when experiencing change or how they have supported others. If students will need additional support during their role plays, record the information in a place that is easy for students to view. Provide a role play example so that students understand the goals of helping a friend cope with change. Emphasize the importance of balancing different methods of support during the role play, such as listening, suggesting coping strategies, brainstorming solutions, and helping them seek additional support if needed.

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