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Emotional Intelligence

What’s In Your Pocket (or Purse or Backpack)?



In evaluating the people we meet, we look at the way they dress, their personal appearance and the way they speak. The more information we have, the better we are able to form an accurate “picture” of that person. This lesson encourages students to get to know one another based on the contents of their pockets, purses or backpacks.


Entrepreneurship Pathways from Ohio Department of Education

Standards addressed

Unit 5: Emotional Intelligence

5.1 Foster self-understanding to recognize the impact of personal feelings on others.

5.2 Develop personal traits essential to business success



  1. Ask five students to volunteer for an experiment. You can tell them what the experiment is ahead of time or allow them to volunteer without knowing the task. You can use a greater number of volunteers or a smaller number. You could also have the students work in small groups or even with a partner.

  2. Have the students come to the front of the room and place everything they have in their pocket, purse or backpack on a table in the front of the room. They’re allowed to keep one thing private.

  3. They will then take turns telling to the other students what they have put on the table.

  4. Ask the class the following questions:

  5. Is anything common to all of the tables of possessions? If so, why do you think each person has this item? (The answer could be a pencil. The reason they would have it is to do their work. It could be a picture of their boyfriend or girlfriend.)

    Is there a difference between what is in the possessions on display? (Does being a boy or girl make a difference? Does what class you are taking make a difference?)

    Are there any possessions shown that you would like to have and do not? Is there anything that would make you feel better about yourself? (Answers will vary.)

    Ask the students who owned the possessions if there is anything that holds a special memory for them. (Answers will vary.)

  6. Now ask all of the students to put their own possessions (purse, pocket or backpack) on their desk. They can keep one item private.

  7. Distribute the student handout What’s in Your Pocket (or Purse or Backpack)? and instruct the students to complete it.



This can be done as a self-evaluation or you can do it and return to students to offer feedback.

_____ The ideas I presented are in my own words.

_____ I have given important information to the reader.

_____ The meaning of my sentences are clear.

_____ I found out something about myself (or about my student) that I didn’t know before.

_____ I see some self-awareness in what I have written.


Adapted from the EQ Toolbox;ex3.php Copyright©2012, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.
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