Optimistic Thinking

Classroom Guidance

Grades 4th-5th




Students will develop a positive attitude toward work and learning.

Building Background


The reason this lesson is important is because when you are an adult someday, you are going to do things that are difficult for you. But what I want you to remember is that if something is difficult or hard for you, you will be able to overcome that difficulty if you stay positive and keep trying.

Watch "Optimism"


Discuss After watching 


  • How did the boy change his thinking?
  • What did you notice about his body language?

Read the following poem and discuss how it relates to optimistic thinking.


It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.



Paper Airplane


Materials needed: Colored paper, trash cans, timer


Game Expectations:

Students have 1 minute to make a paper airplane.  When I say launch, they have 1 minute to get it into the trash can.  They can try as many times as they like within that one minute. The person who gets it into the trash can the most, wins. 



  • How many people got it in?  What did you do?  How many times did you have to try before getting it in?  How many of you didn’t get it in?  Did you give up or keep trying?  What would have helped you make it in? (more time, hints, time to re-do airplane, more time to make airplane, trashcan closer)  
  • How does this relate to having a growth mindset?
  • Would you try again?  Would you make another airplane and try to get it in again? What would you do differently this time? What did you learn from your mistakes last time?  Would you keep trying until you get it or would you give up? Discuss and relate back to optimistic thinking.  Relate to school, learning from your mistakes, and having the optimism that anything can be done.