Let it out

1 hour

Create a safe and positive learning environment by agreeing ground rules for the session.

In this session we will learn:

  • the benefits and risks of expressing our feelings
  • how we can express feelings in different ways using written words
  • how poetry and other creative channels can help to express feelings





1. Show the class the poem A Poison Tree. What do they think it is about?

2. Discuss the meaning of the poem in pairs and feed back.

3. Look at the feelings slide. Ask each student to select a feeling.

4. They will then use this structure:

I found the seeds of…

I planted them…

I watered them with…

Until the tree grew…

And in its highest branches there grew…

At night the wind in the tree was the sound of...

And I knew this poisonous tree was mine.


5. Here’s an example poem of how keeping feelings to yourself can mean they grow and get bigger:

I found the seeds stuck to the back of Snow White’s mirror,

I planted them outside my bedroom window where I could watch them,

I watered them with low-fat diet cola,

Until it grew graceful and thin,

And in its highest branches grew the fruits of vanity,

Beautiful to look at, but rotten to taste,

At night the wind stayed away from my dying tree.

And I knew this poisonous tree was mine.


6. Students work in small groups or pairs.

7. Towards the end of the lesson, share the work the students have produced. Encourage students to share what could be done each time to prevent the poison tree from growing.

8. Discuss the benefits and risks of keeping a difficult feeling to themselves, and how the poison tree can grow if it is not shared.

9. Students can discuss who they can talk to if they need to share something difficult. Remind them of their support networks both in and out of school.

10. Read ‘The Door’ poem to the class.

11. Discuss how creative work (art, poetry, making things, drama) can help with expressing feelings. What do the students think about this? Do these thing things help us? How?



Do I have thoughts and feelings that could grow out of control?

Who would I share these thoughts with?


Links and Learning Journeys

This session links to: Ups and downs of the day | Self-harm myths and facts | Talking helps | Managing stress | Coping with changes | My support network

It is also part of 3 suggested learning journeys:

Learning journey: coping with stress: Ups and downs of the day | My support network | Developing listening skills | Managing stress: making choices | Aggression | Let it out

Learning journey: learning about me: What is emotional health? | Building resilience | Let it out | Being positive | Barriers to seeking help | Making assumptions (short) | Helping my friends

Learning journey: stress: What is emotional health? | My support network | Let it out | Exam stress (short) | Talking helps: it’s hard to say (short) | Coping with changes

Make sure young people know what support is available and how to access this support.