Friday, November 22, 2013

Children's Grief Awareness Day

Thursday, November 21st was Children's Grief Awareness Day. The purpose of this day is to support all children who have lost a loved one, and remind others that children experience grief, too. This could be grief for a lost parent, grandparent, sibling, cousin, pet, etc. Children's Grief Awareness Day is purposely set during the holiday season, as this is often a more difficult time for those who have lost loved ones.

Many of the school counselors in my district wanted to acknowledge this day and remind our students that we support them! To do so, we asked all students and staff to wear BLUE on Thursday in honor of a loved one they have lost or in support of a friend who has lost someone. We also provided students and staff with the opportunity to decorate butterflies (the symbol of Children's Grief Awareness) with a memory of someone they have lost. I also spent some time visiting a few classrooms to share the book Chester the Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, by Audrey Penn (author of The Kissing Hand). This sweet story brings the topic onto the level of younger students by encouraging them to cherish memories of loved ones lost. Students also love the Chester books, which is a plus! The "Memory Walls" from all three of my elementary schools can be seen below:

(^ For my smallest school, I took time to die-cut butterflies and acorns to accompany the Chester story).

Our efforts for Children's Grief Awareness Day even made the local newspaper! I hope that students realize that not only their school counselors, but also their teachers and peers, support them during times of grief.  I have already begun brainstorming ideas for next year! How do you support grieving students? 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Save Money, Live Better: $50 of Counseling Resources

Recently, one of my elementary schools was the recipient of gift cards from WalMart's Teacher Rewards Program. I was fortunate to receive a $50 gift card to use towards resources for my school counseling office.  A little bit goes a long way!

The Haul:

1. Small Adirondack Chair-Not only are these chairs super cute, but their slightly reclined position can be great for students who come to take a break! Dipping into theory, they could also be great for some Empty Chair or Small Chair therapy exercises. ($4.97)

2. Post-It Notes-Can't ever have enough of these things around! Whether you use them in sessions with students, or simply to remind yourself of the 1,678 things on your to-do list, post-it notes are always handy! (1.97/ 4 pack)

3. Pin-Wheel-Great for working on deep-breathing! (.50)

4. Small Tubes of Toothpaste- I use the toothpaste analogy (once words are out, it's impossible to put them back in) all. the. time!! For younger students, it can be more concrete when a visual is used! (.97) 

5. Games-Currently, I am hauling my staple games, Candy Land & Chutes and Ladders, between my three schools. Not to mention that all of my students remind me how out-dated my versions of the games are! Today's board games come in a more compact box and were fairly inexpensive ($4.88) at WalMart! Board games help to build rapport, encourage conversation, and can be played using questions on various topics (social skills, friendship, etc!)

6. Markers/Crayons/Glue Sticks-Frequently-used resources with my students! 
(.97/ 3-count gluesticks)   ($2.47/ 10-count Crayola Markers)   (1.00/ 4-pack Twistable Crayons)

7. Book- If you've read my previous posts, you know I love incorporating bibliotherapy into my school counseling program! Found this super-cute, easy-reader book for just ($3.77).

8. Play-Doh- Another must-have resource! I find the smaller-portioned containers to be more cost-effective.  This size also allows the students I see frequently to have their own container! 
(3.96/ Bag of 10)

9. Pencil Boxes-I pick these up pretty frequently when I see them for under $1.00! These were (.97) at WalMart! They can be used for hygiene kits, calm-down kits, general storage, etc! 
10. White-Boards-Can be used for doodling, writing, etc! Found a pack of three lined, lap-size boards for ($2.00) in the dollar section in the front of the store.

11. Pinpression-So excited about this find! Remember these things? I think they can be particularly therapeutic for students with sensory needs, and just generally fun! ($5.00)
12. Activity Tablet-Great to have on hand for students who pop-in unexpectedly! This is another item that I found in the dollar section in the front of the store for ($2.00)

13. Notepads, Stress Balls, Stickers-The dollar section strikes again! Picked up a handful of go-to items for just ($1.00)!!

With tax, I got a total of 26 different items for just $51.39. Cannot wait to incorporate them into my office and begin using them with students!! What other school counseling items have you picked up for little cost?