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15-20 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate


Images of illusions (printed or displayed on SMART board)


To help students consider things from another’s perspective, to inspire flexible thinking and reframing

  • Find an image that has an illusion. Ask the class what they see. If students have difficulties seeing the illusion, give them two choices to select from. You may wish to have a discussion of which group is “right”, which is “wrong” and why. The important message is that both groups are right… it simply depends on the perception.
  • Further discussion can introduce our different lenses or biases in a situation and trying to understand one another, even if we have conflicting views.
  • Book for younger students: Duck! Rabbit! (Krouse, Rosenthal and Lichtenheld)
  • The images and messages can be tailored according to age and development.
  • You may wish to tabulate responses and show this on a simple graph.
  • This is a great activity for occasional teachers.

Negative thoughts are often an automatic response to stressors; reframing can provide a coping strategy to help gain perspective on the situation. The skills developed through reframing support self-awareness, self-monitoring, communication of thoughts/feelings/behaviours and are needed for a healthy emotional state. Reframing is a skill best taught in an interactive way in which students can practice the skills and consider how to use them in the future. Students who participated in an activity to collaboratively identify a positive reframing of negative thoughts (based on a scenario provided), were better able to provide “advice for a chronic negative thinker” at the end of the activity than those who listened to a lesson on reframing negative thoughts (Hughes, Gourley, Madson & Le Blanc, 2011). 

Hughes, J., Gourley, M., Madson, L., & Le Blanc, K. (2011). Stress and Coping Activity: Reframing Negative Thoughts. Teaching of Psychology, 38(1), 36-39.