PELICAN: Promoting Emotional Literacy in Children with Additional Needs

PELICAN is our framework, story, guidance, and resources to support children and young people with additional needs, particularly learning disabilities, learn skills in noticing and coping with feelings and thoughts, building relaxation skills, and problem-solving/flexible thinking skills.

Learning to feel good: From Peli can't... to Peli can!

PELICAN is designed to be delivered to children and young people with complex learning needs and/or learning disabilities aged 4-18 years.

The PELICAN story is a simple visual story about Peli, the pelican, who is too scared to fly, and their friend Tou who helps Peli. An audio video version of the story is below.


The story is engaging and simple and shows the PELICAN framework with some examples of how Tou helps Peli using the four framework elements:

  • I CAN Feel
  • I CAN Relax
  • I CAN Think
  • I CAN Do

These four elements are important aspects of building emotional literacy, resilience and wellbeing. The evidence shows that the framework should be delivered in this sequence:

The PELICAN framework

The PELICAN Guidance outlines how to deliver PELICAN, including example activities and links to resources. This guidance also has ‘I CAN begin’ and ‘I CAN evaluate’ sections to support people to know how to set up and how to measure change from PELICAN.

The guidance and resources may also help the adaptation of activities within other specialist interventions/approaches, some we’ve signposted, to be accessible and appropriate for use with children and young people with more significant learning needs.

You do not need special training to use the PELICAN framework. However, it is assumed those using this guidance are already working with, or have experience of supporting, children and young people with additional needs.


We have recorded some short videos to help with getting started using PELICAN.

PELICAN Resource Pack

You can download the full PELICAN resource pack, which contains all materials (including the guidance document, storybook, activities, examples, templates, etc.), here: 

PELICAN Resource Pack

The contents of the resource pack are organised in six folders:

I CAN Begin Resources

I CAN Begin: This section outlines how to get started with using the PELICAN framework. It also includes the PELICAN story and guidance (the guidance will direct you to all other resources).

I CAN Feel Resources

I CAN Feel: Activities and resources to help to develop skills in noticing and naming feeling in ourselves and others; normalizing feelings; similarities and differences; identifying different body signs for feelings, and when feelings are “too big”; beginning to link feelings, situations, thoughts and behaviours.

I CAN Relax Resources

I CAN Relax: Activities and resources to help to develop skills to notice our own body signs and situations that make us worried or angry and different relaxation (‘chill skills’) to calm both our body and mind.

I CAN Think Resources

I CAN Think: Activities and resources to help to spot the difference between thoughts and feelings, notice or catch thoughts, recognise the difference between green (helpful) and red (unhelpful) thoughts, grow green thoughts, begin to build links between feelings, situations, thoughts and behaviours. Next are activities and resources to help develop problem solving skills, make goal plans & coping plans, by breaking them down, use flexible thinking (star thinking), use other PELICAN skills- relaxation/chill skills, use support, support/help others; eat & sleep well; get outdoors.

I CAN Do Resources

I CAN Do: Activities and resources: to help to try, reward ourselves and others for trying practice, remember, use support, have fun!

I CAN Evaluate Resources

I CAN Evaluate: This folder contains session review templates and scales to allow for adaptations and personalised approaches, and help evaluate learning. 

PELICAN-Lite (for use during the Covid-19 pandemic)

A PELICAN-Lite version has been written in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This version focuses on I CAN Relax. Please read for more information about how to adapt to using PELICAN during this period.


PELICAN is built from:

  • Practice-based evidence and evidence-based practice
  • Collaboration & feedback
  • Literature reviews/updates
  • Networking
  • Community of Practice

Please read the background paper for more information.



PELICAN comes from collaborative development work supported by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities. Thanks to the many people involved so far - see acknowledgements near the end of the Guidance.

PELICAN has been launched to fly by:

Leanna Ong - Trainee Clinical Psychologist, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Dominic Wrein - Senior Clinical Psychologist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Ro Rossiter - Consultant Clinical Psychologist/Honorary Researcher, Tizard Centre, University of Kent

Christine-Koulla Burke - Director, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities