Chapter 5: Helpful activities to support grieving students

Helpful activities to support grieving students

What the educator says
Sue Massaad, elementary school principal, talks about making cards for ill or grieving studenrs as an oppotunity for emotional expression.(3:22)Video transcript
What the parent says
Jenny talks about the importance of creating a safe place for students to talk about the person who died.(3:22)Video transcript

“I wasn’t sure if he was going to be receptive to making the stress balls, but I noticed he used them all the time”. – Teacher

Below are some examples of activities that could be helpful in supporting your grieving student. Each of these are available in PDF format which you can download and print.

*Please note that although these activities are helpful for children in a one-on-one setting (such as a child with an intellectual disability), they can also be used with all grieving children. They can also be adapted for a full classroom situation if applicable.

Stress balls activity

Key Learning: To develop emotional literacy and promote self regulation.  

You can download and print this activity here.

Drawing and Colouring    

Key Learning: Encourages children to use colour, line, pattern and shape to engage in non-verbal storytelling and self-expression. With relatively few materials, children can be engaged in drawing activities to explore a variety of topics and experiences.

You can download and print this activity here. 

Memory box

Key Learning: To validate and support an ongoing connection with the person who is dying/has died.

You can download and print this activity here.

Say Whaaat?!

Key Learning: To promote communication and support youth to develop healthy personal boundaries.

You can download and print this activity and worksheet here. 

Self-care Spinner

Key Learning: To promote healthy coping strategies and self-care.

You can download and print this activity and ideas here. 

*The activities: Drawing and Colouring, Memory Box, Say Whaaat?!, and Self-care Spinner were all taken with permission from A Handbook for Supporters: Extending Compassion Care to Grieving Youth: English PDF (also available in French), November 2018, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Compiled by Children and Youth Grief Network Resource can be retrieved online at: