Stress & Coloring: Good Idea? Bad Idea?

Students love to doodle!  Children love to color!  Adult coloring books are everywhere!  The theory behind this phenomenon is that it is a way to relax and decompress, in addition to being a creative outlet. So, is this really a good way to deal with stress or just a trendy way to promote a product?  This lesson focuses on stress, and has students investigating this theory by researching and application before deciding whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea!


  • This is an optional activity, but sometimes I like to get my students a little “stressed and frustrated” before I begin this lesson.  I give them each a piece of blank paper and I orally read through the “Small Change and Time Will Tell” problems asking students to complete as I give instructions.  I tell them upfront that I will not repeat anything and they cannot ask questions.  I also tell them this is for a grade and they must do their best!  (It’s really not, but they don’t know that yet!)  Most students can’t keep up and do get really frustrated which is exactly what I want as I lead them into the lesson. (I do go over the answers to these problems just so students can see how far they got and where they went wrong along the way.  They are greatly relieved when I tell them it’s not graded!
  • Pass out whiteboards and erasable markers and ask students to write their own personal definition for stress and to share their “stress tell”.  A “tell” is a clue that gives away something.  For example, a tell for someone who might be lying is a quivering lip.
  • Students share definitions and tells.  Most students are probably pretty close with their definition, but the actual definition of stress is…a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
  • Have students form groups of 4 if possible.  Place a large piece of construction paper or newsprint in the middle of the group and have them draw a rectangle the size of their iPads in the center, drawing 4 lines from the corner points of the rectangle to the corners of the paper.  Each student has a quadrant and signs their initials in their section.  Give students 1-2 minutes to silently write down as many things as possible that cause them stress.
  • When time is up, students share their lists with their group members.  Then ask them to create a list of the top 5 things that cause their group stress, writing them in the center.  The group must agree on the 5 and take everyone’s list into consideration.  Share lists to see similarities and differences in stressors.


  • Whiteboards & Erasable Markers (optional)
  • Large Construction Paper & Markers
  • iPads or Laptops
  • Projector & Screen
  • Highlighters


  • View “Stress Management Strategies: Ways to Unwind” and complete the notes sheet.  Students turn this in for a grade but we do briefly discuss it.
  • Assign students a Stress Dilemma–See Good Idea? Bad Idea? Below.  Students read through the stress dilemma, completing the prompts and then they color a bookmark to see for themselves if this phenomenon is relaxing and destressing.
  • My students provided their responses and expressed their opinions in a Collin’s Writing as this was an SLO project as part of our teacher observation.  The prompt was:  Coloring is an effective or ineffective way to decrease stress.  Agree or Disagree?  Students had to choose a position, support or refute it using reasons from their research/experience with well explained details.
  • As a final project, students had to create a Google Slide Show illustrating 10 healthy things they would enjoy doing to decompress and destress.  The slide show had to include a title page, ways to destress (1 per slide), with a brief explanation of how the activity helped to reduce stress and pictures relating to their examples.



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