Students reflect on times when they have felt certain emotions and silently indicate that they have had these experiences by stepping over a line.


Students will be able to:

  1. Identify a range of emotions within themselves and within the classroom community
  2. Articulate personal narratives that explain times when they have felt specific emotions
  3. Create strategies to self-regulate


Line on the floor for “Cross the Line” activity, list of activity statements (optional), pen/paper



Time Activity
2 mins
  • To introduce today’s activity and lesson, the goal is to create a safe and inviting space for students to feel able to engage in the “cross the line” activity truthfully and earnestly.
  • Sharing norms for this activity such as listening actively, reserving judgment, asking questions, showing empathy, and being your genuine self, are helpful in setting a positive and supportive tone to the lesson.
10 mins
“Cross the Line” Activity
  • The aim of this activity is to allow students to identify times when they have felt certain emotions and to see that their peers have also felt these emotions.
  • The activity should be silent/quiet and respectful to allow each student the space to feel safe and supported.
  • Draw a line or use a place on the floor to mark the threshold. Then, have all students line up 2-3 steps behind the line. Read one of several statements (below).
  • If this statement applies to the student, they should quickly and quietly step over the line and turn toward the class.
  • Pause for a few seconds between each statement to allow students to observe (students shouldn’t talk about their experiences or another’s choice to cross the line at this point; it should be silent observation).

Suggested statements:

  • I usually feel respected at school.
  • I am usually happy at school.
  • I like coming to school in the morning.
  • I have at least one friend in this room.
  • I feel like I can say what I think and feel at school.
  • I feel safe at school.
  • I often choose not to say something that I want to say.
  • I feel like I know my classmates well.
  • I know what I want to do with my life.
  • I feel like there are people in school who help and support me.
  • My opinion matters.

Adjust your choice and number of statements to read based on your class’s needs. Many of these statements include “at school”. You can change this to “in my community”, other phrases, or omit it as necessary. Many of these statements correlate with the emotions in this curriculum and are designed to both give students the chance to begin thinking about which emotions they feel or don’t feel and to give you a picture of the emotions students feel or don’t feel.

20 mins
Sharing Personal Narratives
  • Students will choose one statement from the list above that had an impact on them and write about their experience crossing the line, a time when they felt that emotion, or why they crossed the line when they did.
  • You may want to provide students with a list of the statements before asking them to share their personal narrative on one of the statements.
  • After an appropriate amount of writing time (12-15 minutes of writing time is suggested), have students share out their narrative with a partner.
  • Some students will choose to write about a time when they felt positive emotions, and some students will choose to write about a time when the felt negative emotions.
  • Assure students that this is OK, as we all feel different emotions at different times.

Give students at least 5 minutes to listen and respond to their partner’s story.

10 mins
Class Discussion
  • Guide students through a debrief of the experience of “Crossing the Line” and sharing their story with a neighbor.
  • The discussion will vary depending on the nature of student stories, student willingness to share their stories, trends in the “cross the line” activity, etc., respond to the needs of the room in guiding this discussion.
  • In order to help students process and problem-solve negative emotions, plan to ask some version of the italicized questions below.
  • Suggested discussion questions:
    • Was anyone surprised to see how many students crossed the line for some statements?
    • How did crossing the line make you feel?
    • What did you learn about your peers during the activity and sharing of stories?
    • Many students did not cross the line for [insert positive statement]… why do you think that is?
    • Many students crossed the line for [insert negative statement]… why do you think that is?
    • Some of you may have been afraid to admit to feeling a negative way by crossing the line. Is anyone willing to share that experience?
    • What can we do when we feel a way that we don’t want to feel?
8 mins
Closing Reflection

Give students ample time to answer the Formative Assessment questions below.

Connections to Other Emotions

This activity can foster the emotions of connected/supported and respected/valued as well as safe/comfortable.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

  • How did the “Cross the Line” activity impact you?
  • What did you learn about your classmates during today’s activities?
  • When you feel a negative emotion or a way you do not want to feel, what do you do to try to help? Do you think you should do anything differently to help in these times?