colorful grumpy pants art emotional wellness

Grumpy Pants: Art and Emotional Wellness

Have you ever felt so wrapped up in an emotion that you didn’t even realize it, until something happened to snap you out of it? I’m going to share an activity that we do with our students at KIPP Un Mundo Primary, part of KIPP Texas—San Antonio, to help build social emotional wellness. We do storytelling with a book, talk about the feelings in the story, make a craft, and practice belly breathing. Teaching about emotional wellness is part of our culture at KIPP Texas; learn more in this enrollment guide.

For more ideas about summer experiences you can do while learning at home with your kids, visit the main page, Charter a Summer of Learning.

girl drawing pants

Toolbox for Emotional Wellness

Our starting point is a picture book: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer. (Available online at Amazon,, or from the library.)

The objectives of this activity: First, children will understand that “being grumpy” is normal yet temporary. Second, children will identify what puts them in a bad mood and explain an activity that will remedy a bad mood.

The materials you’ll need:


Crayons or colored pencils


Vocabulary and important terms: “Grumpy Pants,” “bad mood,” and remedy.

Grumpy Pants Story

Adapt this emotional wellness lesson for your use at home—but in a classroom, the opening question is “Today’s story is entitled Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer.” Next, read the sleeve of the book to give context. Then ask, “Kids, what does it mean to be ‘Grumpy Pants?’”

Here is a video of a storyteller sharing the Grumpy Pants book:

After watching this together, ask kids: “What are some of the strategies Penguin used to help calm himself down and help make himself feel better?”

Art, Breathing, and Emotional Wellness

Again, adapt this for your kids at home—but here is how we would introduce and model the activity in art class at school. I would start by asking, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been grumpy. What did you do to get you out of your bad mood?”

Next, I would ask the students to reflect: “For today’s lesson, I want you to think about what makes you grumpy and what you can do to ‘wash’ away your bad mood.” Give an example of something that makes you feel grumpy—maybe it’s not getting enough sleep or being super hungry. Hold up a piece of “clothing”

Explain how we can change our feelings: “When I’m feeling that way I just practice belly breathing or draw until I feel better.”

Then, present the coloring activity: “Today you’re gonna name what puts you in a bad mood then we are going to find a way to ‘wash it away.’” Students will draw and color a T-shirt and pair of pants, like on the printable page below.

grumpy pants claire messer art emotional wellnessWe will write on our clothes something that makes us grumpy. Lastly, we will use belly breathing to calm ourselves down and we will pretend to wash away our “Grumpy Pants.”

Close the emotional wellness lesson by watching a video with tips about belly breathing.

That’s the lesson! Practicing emotional wellness with a story, a discussion about feelings—how grumpiness is normal but we can make it go away—and practicing techniques to help us feel better, including belly breathing and drawing.

For more ideas about emotional wellness, check out these activities about digital parenting, and this two-part series of posts about social emotional learning: Part I and Part II.

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Inga Cotton’s interview with Jessica G. Rivera, Elementary Art Teacher, and Elizabeth Rodriguez, Recruitment and Community Coordinator, on Charter Moms Chats.

Elizabeth Rodriguez, better known as Eli (pronounced like Ellie), is a 3rd-generation San Antonioan. She was born and raised in the neighborhood that KIPP Commerce is in. She has a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Women’s Studies. Eli has extensive experience in working in Title I school districts and non-profit environments. For example, she has served as a teacher’s aide, reading tutor, adult literacy tutor, grant editor, and youth case manager. She is passionate about student/family support, strengthening community partnerships, and “championing equity.” Eli found her “camino” to KIPP Commerce as she was seeking ways to return to the neighborhood she grew up in to nurture connections with her community. Eli’s hobbies include: jogging with her dog, Oso, reading, writing poetry, trying new restaurants, and hiking.

For more ideas about summer experiences you can do while learning at home with your kids, visit the main page, Charter a Summer of Learning.

About the Author

Jessica G. Rivera is entering her third year as an elementary art teacher at KIPP Un Mundo Primary, part of KIPP Texas—San Antonio. She is a UTSA graduate, with a B.A. in Fine Art and Art Criticism. Before becoming a teacher, she was an active member of Un Mundo’s Parent Teacher Association and even served a year as the PTA president. Her son Mathias, age 9, is now a 4th grader and has attended Un Mundo since kindergarten.


Jul 10 2020


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