Monday, January 30, 2012

No Name Calling Week

Last week was officially "No Name Calling Week," or as my students like to call it, "No Bullying Week." What better week to begin my bullying unit?!  I thought I would share some of my ideas with you. I got a lot of my resources from They provide a teacher guide, parent letters, school-wide activities, and more.

Classroom Guidance Lesson for 3rd grade
Today, we read Simon's Hook: A Story About Teases and Put Downs by Karen Burnett and talked about what to do when someone is teasing you or calling you names.
I picked this book specifically for No Name Calling week, but also because I know of some current friendship concerns in 3rd grade.  My hope is to give the students who are being picked on some confidence and some tricks to "pull out of their bag" when their classmates are being mean to them. Also, as a way to encourage more positive behavior, I had each student pull another student's name out of a cup and had them write a "put-up" message to that person. We talked about what a put-up is and brainstormed ideas of nice things to say to each other. I made sure to tell them to tailor their put-up message specifically to the person's name they drew so we didn't get lots of general put-ups like, "you're nice" and "you're a great friend."  I created this document and printed it off on label paper so that I could stick the put-ups up on a bulletin board.  Then, as the students walk by the board they can search it for the put-up written to them and hopefully it will brighten their day :) not to mention provide a visual of hundred of examples of put-ups.

Next week, I plan on showing these 3 videos to review Simon's Hook and remind students how to "not get caught by the bully's bait!"

Check back tomorrow for No Name Calling Week ideas to use with 5th grade and 4th grade! :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Year's Resolution Videos and Penguins

I realize this post is coming a little late to help anyone with New Year's resolution lessons plans, seeing that it is already the 27th, but hey there's always next year, right!? After returning from our holiday break, my guidance lessons focused on goal setting, tying it into New Year's resolutions.

In my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes we had a New Year's party where we set 3 goals.  To make the lesson more engaging and fun for students, I brought in party hats, crowns, and necklaces that I had at home from our New Year's Eve celebration. This was a great way to "re-use" my party favors.  I bought the party kit at CVS for about 5 dollars.

Once the party favors were passed out we discussed what New Year's resolutions are, and I explained that they are the same thing as setting goals.  This led into a lesson on how to set appropriate goals and make a plan for accomplishing them. I created this worksheet for each student to complete. They set 3 goals: 1 for school, 1 for friendship, and 1 for home.

To conclude the lesson, I video-tapped each student reading their goals and put the clips together into really cute class videos using Windows Movie Maker.  The students LOVED watching their video during their next guidance lesson, which also helped with the lesson by reinforcing the goals they had set the week before.  I got inspiration for doing the videos from this video on SchoolTube. After watching this clip you will have a good idea of what our videos looked like, but I didn't feel comfortable posting the actual videos online due to student privacy concerns. (It's unfortunate, because they are so cute)

With my 1st and 2nd grade classes I stuck with the New Year's party theme and also taught them how to set goals and why goals are so important in school and in the real world.  They created these cute "Penguin Resolutions Reminders" from EdHelper.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Giveaway over at The Corner on Character

Today has been a wonderful rainy winter day.  The weather created the perfect setting for a day full of coffee and lesson planning blogging.   I have spent hours in front of my computer searching the internet for counseling blogs and reading numerous creative posts.  The Corner on Character is one of my favorite reads and she is giving away an autographed copy of Maria Dismondy's newest book Pink Tiara Cookies for Three.  Simply click the link to go right to the giveaway!

Other counseling blogs I am currently reading are:

I'm sure there are many other helpful blogs out there that I haven't found yet or that I accidently left off of my list. Feel free to leave a comment; What are your favorite blogs??

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Office Space

Danielle, over at School Counselor Blog, recently wrote a blog post on her office space and requested fellow counselors to share pictures on Facebook.  Well, I no longer am a member of Facebook, so I thought I would just post pics of my office here!  This post came at an interesting time, because I just moved to a new office this week! Unfortunately, it was a pretty major down-grade.  I went from a room with 2 huge windows, a wall full of shelves, and a great table for groups to a much smaller room with no windows and not enough room for groups. The upside of all this? I added a nice floor lamp, turned off the offensive florescent overhead light and now its super cozy. Enjoy the picture tour...

Bottom line.... It's small but i LOVE it :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teaching Friendship with Real Life Animal Stories

I am a LOVER of bookstores. I religiously browse Barnes and Noble and Books A Million for new books to use in my guidance program. Lately I kept noticing non-fiction animal stories with sub-titles like, "The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" and "The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship."  How could I resist?!  What better way to capture students' interest than to use real life stories and photographs of animal friendships! I decided to teach these books as a friendship unit and I started it this year in 2nd grade.  The stories and lessons were a huge success! Here are the books I used....


I started with A Friend for Einstein 
by Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner
First, I explained the unit to the students and they were very excited to see pictures and hear stories of real life animals. I read them the story and throughout the book we talked about how Einstein was very different from the other horses and how this made it hard for him to find friends. I could tell that they instantly connected with Einstein because I heard many things like "Aw, poor Einstein," "I would be his friend," and "He's soooo cute!"   The moment I knew the lesson was going to be successful was when I heard one student say, "They shouldn't leave him out just because he's small!" Yes! I thought. They get the moral of the story: to be nice to everyone and not to exclude anyone just because they are different. 

Next, I showed them an ActiveInspire lesson I created on the book. I used a LOT of information from
Here is a glimpse of what you will find: 

There are also videos, and pictures, and a teacher discussion guide on this website to use in your lesson.

To send the final message home for my class, I passed out a blank index card to every student and had them write 3 things that make them different on one side and then draw pictures of these things on the back.  This was a way to celebrate our differences and learn to accept everyone.  The teacher posted them on a bulletin board with the title, "Our Differences Make Us Special!"

The next week we read Owen and Mzee: The True Story of A Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu
Again, I read the story and the kids were fascinated by the pictures.  After the story we talked about taking care of your friends and what it means to be loyal.  There is an amazing website that accompanies this story:  We used the video maker on the ActiveBoard to bring this lesson to life. 

We finished the unit with Suryia and Roscoe by Dr. Bhagavan Antle and Tarra and Bella by Carol Buckley
I spent one guidance lesson on each of these stories continuing to teach the characteristics of good friendship. I used these websites as supplements to the lessons: and

Has anyone else used these stories in their guidance program? If so, please leave a comment and share your ideas!

Christmas for Kids SCA project

As a follow up to our November SCA project, I thought I would share our December fundraiser. Our SCA hosted "Christmas for Kids." All students were encouraged to donate 1$, 3$, or 5$ to "buy" a Christmas ornament to tape on their classroom door. This is how we determined which class raised the most money.  The fundraiser lasted for one week and we raised $615.00!  We took the money and went to Walmart to buy all kinds of games, crafts, toys, and books and donated them to the children's ward of our local hospital. There would be at least 40 children staying in the hospital over Christmas and we donated enough toys for every child to receive at least one Christmas present and the leftovers would go into their community room for all the children to enjoy.

The students at our school are so generous and they love helping others.  I am very thankful to be one of the leaders for SCA because it gives me a chance to build relationships with many 5th grade students. It also gives me the chance to teach the importance of thinking of others and helping those in need.