Thursday, December 6, 2012

Holiday Classroom Counseling Lessons

The holidays are a wonderful time for teaching giving, compassion, empathy, and even careers. Here are a few of the lessons I teach during the holiday season.

Snowmen At Work
This lesson works well with Kindergarten -3rd grade, and it is a fun way to introduce careers to my younger students.  First, I read the book Snowmen At Work, by Caralyn Buehner, and on each page we talk about each job that is portrayed. She includes many jobs such as mechanic, baker, dentist, truck driver, teacher, and more.  Then, I have each student think and share about what career they may like to have when they get older.  Finally, I have each student decorate a snowman like the career they have chosen.  Click here for the worksheet. The students loved creating these and sharing them with the class, and it really got them thinking about each job, because they had to think about what the person would wear and the tools they use.
Snowmen at Work
Snowmen At Work

How Santa Got His Elves
How Santa Got His Elves, by E.J. Sullivan, is a very cute story about how the first elves came to work at the North Pole.  First, we read and dicuss the story, and then each student fills out an "Elf Job Application." The is fun way for students to practice thinking about how to apply for a job.  They have to think about the skills a good elf would need, the character traits Santa would be looking for, and what previous work experience would help an elf get the job. Click on the application here to download! 
How Santa Got His Elves
How Santa Got His Elves
Enemy Pie
Enemy Pie, by Derek Munson, isn't a holiday story, but with this particular lesson, I like to teach it to my 4th graders around Christmas time. The little boy in the story has a really hard time making friends with the boy who just moved in down the street. The description on the cover reads, "one little boy learns an effective recipe for turning a best enemy into a best friend."  After reading the story, I talk with the students about what qualities make a good friend.  We make a long list of positive friendship qualities on the board and then use the qualities to write Friendship Recipes. Since Christmas is a time for baking lots of cookies, I post their "Good Friend" recipies on a bulliten board that says, "Recipies for Friendship."

Enemy Pie (Reading Rainbow book)
Enemy Pie

Friday, November 30, 2012

Classroom Guidance Lessons

Dear blogging friends,

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. As you all know our jobs can sometimes get in the way! Here is a look at what we have been doing in classroom guidance lessons over the last couple weeks.

I have been teaching feelings in PreK and we had a lot of fun making feeling faces with play-doh. They made sad, happy, mad, and scared faces using play-doh on paper plates.

In 1st and 2nd grades I have been teaching teamwork. First, I read Julia cook's book Teamwork Isn't My Thing and I Don't Like to Share and we discussed how you can e a good team player and what to do if your group members aren't cooperating. Then I split the class into 4 random teams and gave them a team challenge. The teams received points for finishing the challenge correctly AND for working well together. Below is a picture of the challenge where they had to build the tallest tower. It was really fun!

My 3rd graders have been learning the 7 Habits, and this past we focused on "Put First Things First." I read them a chapter out of Sean Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, that stressed the importance of studying a little bit each day, rather then cramming for a test the night before and completing your work before going out to play. then the students looked through magazines for pictures of work and play and made "Work First, Then Play" T Charts.

See pictures of all the projects below and stay tuned for Christmas themed counseling lessons, coming soon!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Talk Blocks

Innovative Interactions, llc has a wonderful product called Talk Blocks. I use this a lot in individual counseling sessions. There are 4 blocks for the student to use: 2 have different emotions on them, and the other 2 have things you need on them. Talk Blocks are extremely helpful to use with students who have trouble saying how they are feeling or students who need help knowing what to do to help them feel better.

Some of the feelings identified on the blocks are angry, excited, sad, happy, and scared. Some of the things on the other blocks that identify what the student needs are a hug, to sing, to take a walk, praise, to breathe, to talk, and to go outside. Using the blocks the student is able to say "I am angry. I need to take deep breaths," or "I am feeling scared. I need to talk."

For large and small group counseling, I have borrowed the ideas of talk blocks and I have had students create their own blocks. Students have created their own blocks with the same ideas as the original Talk Blocks so that they can take them home and use them with their parents. I have also had students create blocks using problem solving strategies and ways to handle anger. The possibilities are endless!

You can find a blank template by doing a google search for "cube template."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Leadership Around our Hallways

Our school is working hard on introducing the 7 habits to our students. Our art teacher is doing an amazing job incorporating the 7 habits in her art lessons and this has really helped to decorate our halls. Below are a few pictures with more to come...

The leadership neighborhood was actually created by our kindergarten class. They were learning about shapes and created the buildings. Then, the kindergarteners got together with their 5th grade big buddies and their buddies helped them create the roads, cars, signs, people, and animals. This was a wonderful activity for teaching synergy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting to know my students

This post is a little late coming since most of us are well into our school year. However, I thought I would share so you can store the idea away for next year. After I did a guidance lesson for every classroom introducing my role as the school counselor, I wanted to give my students a way to introduce themselves to me. I also use this lesson as a way for students to think about what makes them special and to help build their self esteem.

First, I read the book I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, and we discussed what makes us special and how it doesn't matter what we look like on the inside. What matters is what we are like inside our hearts, that we are nice and caring to others.

Then, I had each student think about all the things that make them special and unique, and they created either an "All About Me" T-shirt or puzzle piece, depending on their grade level. Then, I displayed their work for Back to School Night. The T-shirts are hung up with clothespins and the puzzle pieces are glued to together to show how the class "fits together." Both the kids and parents enjoy seeing these around the school!

Below are pictures of my example, student examples, and my bulletin boards. I also strung some of the shirts up across the ceiling in my classroom!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Be Proactive lesson

This year most of my classroom guidance lessons will be focused on Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Happy kids. I wanted to share a book and activity my students did this week on being proactive (Habit 1).

One day I was literally running through our library taking a short cut on the way to one of my classes when I spotted a book with a girl doing the high jump in the Olympics with the title "Touch the Sky." It looked like it had lots of potential for a guidance lesson since we just had the summer Olympics, so I grabbed it and kept on running. It turned out to be a great book for a lesson on being proactive!

The book is Touch the Sky, by Ann Malaspina, and it is the story of Alice Coachman, the first African American woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics. There are numerous examples in this story of how Alice was proactive. She had a dream to be a high jumper and she practiced everyday, even making her own high jump from sticks and rags. She overcame harsh discrimination and plowed her own path to success.

After we read the book, I showed the students a YouTube video of an interview with her when she was much older where she talks about how she was champ. She talks about how no one can bring her down because she is the champ. This is the perfect example of choosing to have a positive attitude.

Then, each student completed the activity below. They wrote 5 ways they could be proactive in the Olympic rings and drew pictures of these examples inside the rings. They turned out amazing!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teaching Trustworthiness with Chocolate

This is my first time joining a linky part.  I still feel really new to blogging, and do not know all the ins and outs so bear with me and cross your fingers that it will work.  I couldn't pass up the chance to join Maria Dismondy's monthly Let's Make A Difference link party since the topic this month is trustworthiness.  This is one of my most successful lessons I have done so far. I did this lesson with 5th graders my first year as a counselor when I was teaching Character Counts.

I did not tell the students we were discussing Trustworthiness, because I did not want to give anything away. I began by telling the students that over the weekend I went to this amazing specialty candy shop out of town and brought them each back a little piece of chocolate because it was so good.  I handed every student a little piece of the chocolate and asked them to please wait and not eat it until I said it was okay. I just said I want to be fair and have it all at the same time.  I really built up the hype for how good this chocolate was and they were so excited that I brought them some. (Here is the kicker: the chocolate is NOT from a specialty shop; it's UNSWEETENED baking chocolate) When I give them the okay, all the kids eat their piece of chocolate.  They immediately start gagging and wanting to spit out the chocolate; its hilarious!!  The best part is they start saying, "Hey, you lied" or "you tricked us."  And I say, that's right I lied to you.  Then to make amends I tried to offer them a wrapped up Reese's cup and they don't even want to take it, because they think I'm lying again.  It is a perfect message: It only takes one lie to lose someone's trust, and it takes a lot of effort to gain it back.  They say after that, they will never trust me again. It's so funny.

This fun idea is a great intro to any lesson on trust.  It fits well with the Wall of Turst activity, because its the same message of building someone's trust and tearing it down with one lie.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Individual Counseling Activity Pages Holder

I found this great idea on Pinterest this summer and thought it would be an awesome way to keep up with all of the counseling pages I use with my students. I don't use these pages every time I talk with students, but it is nice to have them handy and organized in case I feel like one would be helpful.

I used a paper towel holder, the inside metal piece of a three ring binder, sheet protectors, colored card stock, and a little duct tape for this simple DIY project. The original idea suggested using metal rings, but I couldn't get them to stay up on the paper towel holder, so I tore the metal binder clips out of a binder and used duct tape to hold it tight to the holder. This wasn't perfect, but it works. Then, I simply added card stock to the sheet proctors. I kept certain colors together to represent different counseling topics so I could find pages quickly.

The pages come from different counseling resources I have. Most of the resource books come with CDs that allow you to print all the reproducibles. This is a simple way to pull all your favorite pages together from many different books.

How do you organize your individual counseling resources?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

7 Habits Yard Signs

I have mentioned before that my school is implementing Stephen Covey's 7 habits this year. I am so excited about this because I can truly already see a difference in out students' behavior. Even our bus drivers have commented that our children are better behaved than past years.

You can imagine my excitement when these yard signs from Vistaprint arrived in the mail today! There is one for each habit, and they are so bright and cute!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Introducing counseling services to your staff

Every year I try to come up with a creative and effective way to introduce my counseling program to my teachers.  This can be kind of difficult, because teachers are bombarded with meetings, trainings, staff development, curriculum changes, and more at the beginning of the school year.  So, it is not always best for me to stand up during a staff meeting and take up time explaining my program.

Therefore, I borrowed this wonderful idea from Marissa at Elementary School Counseling blog.  I created a "Menu of Services" that includes the groups I run, topics I cover in guidance, clubs I supervise, etc. I feel like this Menu will promote my program better than a staff meeting speech, because teachers can hold on to it and pull it out when they have a student or class who needs my services. I also plan on having some on hand for Back to School Night to hand out to parents.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What is a School Counselor? 1st classroom lesson

This lesson was perfect. The students got really into it and I think they really understand my job better. I think it is really important to talk to kids about what a school counselor does every single year, even if they think they already know, because it reminds them they can come talk to you if they are having a problem.

I gathered some easy to find toys and supplies that represented different aspects of school counseling and put them all into a book-bag.  For the younger students, I only used about half of the objects to keep it simple. I pulled out each object and explained how it represented my job and then passed them around so every student could touch them. With the older kids, I had them close their eyes and pull something out of the bag. Then, I had the class guess what the object had to do with school counseling. I was a little surprised how well the older kids did. They were able to guess what everything represented.

Big heart - for caring about and loving all students
Hug Me Monkey - Helping students feel better when they are having a hard time at home, school, or with friends
Goofy glasses - I help students look at things in a different way, or from a different perspective
Magnifying glass - to look for the clues to help you solve your problems
Megaphone - to cheer you on and support you
Headphones - for listening to students
Big Eraser - for helping students when they are having a hard time with their academics
Angry Bird - I help students learn ways to calm down when they are angry or upset
Lock - represents confidentiality

Does anyone else do this activity? If so , what objects do you use? If not, how do you introduce your role to the students?

I borrowed the idea for some of these objects from one of the counseling  blogs I read, and now I can't find the post. Please leave a comment or email me if you know where it came from so I can give credit. Thanks

Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Week Back

Ready it not, here school comes.... Kids don't start until Monday, and I think I'm actually ready. I shared some pictures of my new classroom earlier in the summer, but it is much more completed now.  I have a counseling space in the back of the room with 4 bean bag chairs, a rug, lamps, and a round table for lunch groups.  For my classes, I am using tables, rather than desks, to create a more open and inviting atmosphere.  On my bulletin boards I have a tree with the 7 Habits, Monster Manners, and inpriational quotes from Second Grade Shinanigans and Sweet Blessings. I labeled each spot at the table with a 7 habits name plate and a number from Teachers Pay Teachers since I will be having students from every classroom using the tables. Students will receive an assigned seat using a number which will hopefully help with classroom management.  I have also included some pictures of bulletin boards a created around the school. I borrowed the ideas for these boards from here and here.

Back to school vistaprint order

By now, you probably all know how wonderful Vistaprint is.  I bought a Groupon deal earlier in the summer for $17 and I was able to buy $70 worth of stuff from Vistaprint with it!  Vistaprint is an amazing thing.  I would caution you to only buy stuff that is on sale though, because they run fabulous sales.  Sometimes you can search for Vistaprint promotional codes to get even better deals. Here is what I got, all for only $46. (I went over $70 dollars; that's why I paid extra.)

250 business cards that I can hand out to teachers, parents, volunteers, and community members. The best part is I made the back to look like an appointment card for students.  I plan on giving these appointment cards to teachers with the student's name, day, and time I can meet with them and the teacher will just send them to my office.

250 career cafe invitations on business cards. Last year, I used post card invitations, but they are much more expensive.

2 holders for the business cards so they can sit on my desk and be easily accessible.

2 polo shirts

2 tshirts

Treat others the way you want to be treated poster

Personalized note pad

What stuff do you buy from Vistaprint?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to School Shopping for the Office

Dear Dollar Tree,
Thank you so much for selling teacher resources in your store. It is so wonderful to be able to buy posters, charts, borders, accents, school supplies, toys, stress balls, storage containers, and more for only 1$! Teachers and counselors are extremely dedicated and spend much of their personal money on their classrooms and students. Thank you for making it affordable!
A counselor who likes a good deal

Here are a couple pictures of some things I've bought so far...

Isn't that blue storage tote cute??
I am going to use the duct tape for lettering on canvases or bulletin boards.
I give each student an eraser during my "Everyone Makes Mistakes" lesson.
The hearts and stars will either be used as bulletin board accents or small post-it notes.
The hand clappers are my favorite. I use them as "zero-noise" signals.  When the hand claps, the class grows quiet and is ready to listen.

The buttons are going to come in very handy because 3 out of 4 walls of my classroom are magnetic.
You can't really see it from the picture but the orange foam squares are actually foam punch outs that are in the shape of different arrows that I plan on using for my bulletin board.
I got 5 storage containers with lids to use for supply storage.
The paper bags are for all of the puppets my kiddos will make this year, and the basketball and soccer ball are stress balls for students who need help focusing in class or calming down.

These items did not come from the Dollar Tree; they are actually from Toys R Us.
The game, Blunders, looks like a fun one to use for teaching manners in my social skills small group.
The wand is going to be my "talking stick" for large and small groups.  Whoever is holding the "talking stick" is the only person who should be talking.
The 2 moody faces are stress balls, and the other game is "Girl Talk" which should be a fun getting to know you game to use with girls in small groups.

What stuff have you bought this summer to get ready for the school year??

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Leadership Bulletin Board

Today I went back to school to work more in my classroom. I've mentioned before that I am working on bringing the 7 Habits of Happy Kids to our school by piloting it in 3 grade levels and by teaching the habits in my guidance classes. So, this is the bulletin board I put up outside my room that includes all the habits. I got the idea for the board from here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Classroom!

Guess what?! I get to have my own classroom this year. While this will only be for one year, you can imagine my excitement. This means that my guidance classes will come to my room, and I won't have to travel around from classroom to classroom everyday. My plan is to use this room for my classes and small groups, and I get to keep my small office for individual counseling.

Here is a peek of the room so far...the first thing I did was get rid of all the desks and brought in 3 long tables to use for guidance classes. My hope is that this will create a more homey feel and will encourage better discussion and teamwork.

Next, I set up the back of the room as a small group counseling space. I made a sitting nook with rugs from LOWES and beanbag chairs from Roses. Close to the sitting area, I added a round table where I can have my lunch bunch groups.

Finally, I added lamps all around the room which makes the space feel much cozier. I hate overhead lighting; it's usually the first thing I change in any room I'm in. This is just what I've gotten done so far. I can't wait to share pictures when it's finally completed.