How I Teach Size of the Problem

I’m always talking about big deal/little deal with my students! I see that major facial expression and total body transformation over a slight bump on the shoulder in the hallway and have to say “Big deal or little deal?” as a quick reminder. The truth is, it’s really hard for some students to differentiate between small problems and big problems, especially if big reactions have been modeled for them for all types of problems. But examining real life problems and talking about their impacts can really help students understand the size of the problem and how their reactions can match! Keep reading for more info on the size of the problem lesson I do with my students.

Working on helping kids understand big deal/little deal? Check out my size of the problem lesson and see if it'll work for you!

Size of the Problem Lesson

For this lesson, I use a traffic light to represent various problem sizes. To open the lesson, I have students write down a problem they’re dealing with right now. We save this for the end to use as an assessment.

Green Light

Green means go! Green light problems are no big deal at all. Kids are good to go moving forward and solving these. These are problems that kids can solve on their own with little effort or by ignoring.

Examples:

  • Someone accidentally bumped into me.
  • I didn’t get to be partners with my best friend.
  • I didn’t get the color I wanted.

Yellow Light

Yellow means slow down. Yellow light problems aren’t a huge deal, but kids need to slow down and think about these before they solve them. These are problems that kids can solve on their own or with support and shouldn’t be ignored.

Looking for a size of the problem? Help kids understand big deal little deal and problems and reaction sizes with this elementary school counseling classroom guidance lesson or small group counseling session. These activities are perfect for teaching self regulation. Self regulation lessons and self regulation group counseling sessions fit nicely with size of the problem lessons!

Examples:

  • My friend said something mean about me.
  • I don’t have the supplies I need.
  • Someone is cheating in the game we’re playing.

Red Light

Red means stop! Red light problems are a big deal and require adult guidance to solve them. These are problems that kids shouldn’t try to solve on their own and can’t be ignored.

Examples:

  • Two people are fighting on the playground.
  • There’s a fire in the bathroom.
  • Someone is hurting me.

Matching Reactions

One we are able to differentiate the size of the problem, we talk about matching our reactions to the problems. A big scream doesn’t quite fit with a slight bump of the shoulder the same way ignoring a fire doesn’t quite match.

Looking for a size of the problem? Help kids understand big deal little deal and problems and reaction sizes with this elementary school counseling classroom guidance lesson or small group counseling session. These activities are perfect for teaching self regulation. Self regulation lessons and self regulation group counseling sessions fit nicely with size of the problem lessons!

To practice, students work together in groups to identify the size of various problems and choosing appropriate reactions. While students are working on small group puzzles, I review the problems they wrote down in the beginning. If there are any red light problems, I check in with those students for clarification and to plan for following up. Then we revisit those problems the students identified at the beginning of the lesson. Students decide what the size of this problem is and then name a just right reaction. If there were no red light problems identified, I also have students identify a too big reaction.

Next steps: After doing a size of the problem lesson, we revisit calming skills that we can use when we face a problem that will help us choose an appropriate reaction!

Size of Problem Lesson Plan

Looking for a size of the problem? Help kids understand big deal little deal and problems and reaction sizes with this elementary school counseling classroom guidance lesson or small group counseling session. These activities are perfect for teaching self regulation. Self regulation lessons and self regulation group counseling sessions fit nicely with size of the problem lessons!
Looking for a size of the problem? Help kids understand big deal little deal and problems and reaction sizes with this elementary school counseling classroom guidance lesson or small group counseling session. These activities are perfect for teaching self regulation. Self regulation lessons and self regulation group counseling sessions fit nicely with size of the problem lessons!

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