SPARKLERS / Managing emotions


Two games that helps students discover their inner pause button.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand the importance of pausing and breathing before acting.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

While most adults can pause (or inhibit a response) before reacting, this social skill can be particularly challenging for children to learn.

This game has been developed with the Stop, Think, Do programme in mind.

It boosts students’ self-awareness and enables them to practice ‘going’ and ‘stopping’, which can be very helpful when the unexpected happens!

Taihoa Tag

To get started, ask if anyone knows what ‘Taihoa’ (TYE-ho-ah) means (slow down, don’t hurry, take your time).

Say that today you’re going to play Taihoa Tag, which is freeze tag, but when they tag someone they must say “Taihoa!”. The tagged person must freeze in place until someone gives them a high five or fist-bump.

After you’ve played, discuss those two different actions: going and stopping.

What does each feel like in our body? What is it like going from one state to the other? In our everyday life, when are some times when it can be good to think ‘Taihoa’ and take some deep breaths? When the unexpected happens, when we are upset, when someone annoys us.

Taihoa... breathe

Once your class has the hang of Taihoa Tag explain that today you’re going to play Taihoa, breathe (TYE-ho-ah).

For this game, they’ll need to move around, then freeze when you yell “Taihoa!”

They must stay frozen, until you’ve read a scenario, then all say: “Taihoa, breathe” together. (Practice saying this is unison before you play!)

Some scenarios you can use (feel free to add others):

  • TAIHOA! You get to go to your friend’s house. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You’re reading and don’t know the words. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You’re playing a cool new game. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! Your favourite pet is sick. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You score a goal in a sports game! Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You forget your lunch. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You’re eating your favourite meal. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You feel left out. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! The first question in a test is really hard. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You get in trouble for making a mess. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! A family member tells you they love you. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You win a special award. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! A classmate hits you. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! Someone reads you a funny story. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You fall over and graze your knee. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You do a great job of your project. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You lose your new sweatshirt. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You get an answer wrong in class. Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! Your family wins a summer holiday! Taihoa, breathe.
  • TAIHOA! You’re having fun with your friends. Taihoa, breathe.

Don’t play for too long! End on a high, then have a follow up kōrero about the benefits of thinking Taihoa (and pausing / breathing), before reacting.

What next?

Brainstorm different times your class could think Taihoa, and use some in your next game. Play regularly then progress to Frozen emotions.

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

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