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LifeSkills Handbook Activity 52

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions altogether. The handbook is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, books and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 52

Purpose of Activity: To identify how stress can build up and cause outbursts

Life Skills: Coping with Stress & Emotion, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking

Important Points
It is useful to do Activities 39-42 Behaviour that Hurts before doing this activity. If the children are not familiar with the idea of a volcano another image can be used instead e.g. a bomb.


  • A picture of a volcano or bomb
  • Squares of card or paper
  • Paper bags


  1. Explain that many things can cause feelings to build up and that can lead to stress and anger. Explain the three types of stress and ask children to give examples for each.
    • Frustration – occurs when someone is blocked from doing, saying or asking something by others or by the situation as a whole
    • Conflict – occurs when a difficult choice must be made
    • Pressure – occurs when someone feels forced to do something s/he does not really want to do, or forced to do too much.
  2. Show the picture of the volcano or bomb. Explain that some people will explode like a volcano if the level of stress builds up too high.
  3. Ask the group to give examples of causes of stress. Here are some of the responses from children who did this activity.
    • When people harass me
    • When I work hard for a little payment
    • When we girls have to work more than our brothers
    • People using bad language against us
    • Hunger
    • A sick friend
    • Loneliness
    • When we are beaten at home
    • Noise
    • Smell
    • Health problems such as headache, tooth ache, sports injury, spots on the face, toothache, heavy cold
    • Heat or cold
    • Doing unhealthy things in order to cope such as drinking, smoking, acting irritably with others, driving too fast
  4. Ask what happens when people explode (become very angry)
    • They may harm others
    • They may harm themselves
    • They may run away
  5. Divide the children into groups of three and ask them to discuss or draw causes of stress in their own lives. Ask them to decide the point at which someone may explode if all these causes came together. Give each group a paper bag.
  6. Each group tells the whole group the causes of stress they have discussed, and they blow up and burst the paper bag at the point where they think someone might explode because as a result of all this stress.

You can also use physical movement for feedback. In their presentations, the group can take one step forward every time they mention one stress and then shout loudly for the explosion!


Final Discussion:

What are your main sources of stress? (Peers, family, school, media, police, others?) What signs are there that stress is building up?

  • lose temper
  • small things become frustrating
  • thoughts going around and around in your mind
  • sinking feeling in the stomach

How can stress be reduced?

  • deep breathing
  • moving away from the cause of the stress
  • go for a walk/run/play sport
  • listen to music

How can you tell if someone is stressed?

  • changes in behaviour
  • drop in school work
  • conflicts with someone respected
  • smoking or drinking more
  • drugs
  • refusing to admit that they are stressed etc.

What can you do if a friend has reached that stage?

Visit LifeSkills Handbook for more info or to buy your copy!