Wednesday, May 14, 2014

End of the Year Self-Esteem Booster

It's the end of the year, a full-moon is approaching, and both teachers' and students' emotions are running rampant. Ah! Tattling has completely resurfaced and I felt that students could use a reminder that we need to show kindness towards others.

I began this lesson by sharing the book Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. This beautifully illustrated book highlights the ripple effect that can occur from one simple act of kindness. The main character, Chloe, learns that she must take advantage of opportunities to show kindness to others, even people that she doesn't know as well.

Prior to the lesson, I acquired enough paper plates for every student in the class, one for myself, and one for the classroom teacher. Next, I punched two small holes along the rim of each paper plate. I then attached a strand of yarn (probably 1.5 feet) from one hole to the other, so that it was a sort of paper plate necklace. If classroom time permits, you could allow students to do the aforementioned steps themselves. Different materials could also be used!

Students were then instructed to put the string around their necks so that the paper plate hung on their back, with the bottom of the plate facing outwards. We then spent approximately ten minutes roaming the classroom writing short compliments on each others' paper plates. I encouraged students to really think about the unique things each person brings to the classroom/school. They were also challenged to write something different on each of their peers' plates. You can see mine below:

The students were so excited to read their plates, and could hardly wait for me to give them the okay to take them off. The whole atmosphere of the classroom changed, and students wanted to wear their plates around school for the remainder of the day. I think classroom teachers enjoyed the little boost, too! Some students attempted to figure who wrote what on their plate, but I encouraged them to not be concerned with this aspect and embrace the kindness shown to them by ALL of their peers. :)

The idea for this came from something similar that I did as a high school student. I still have my paper plate hanging on my bedroom mirror!! Such a simple project that can have long-lasting effects!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday: Feelings Scales

Time for another Toolbox Tuesday! I will use these weekly posts to share both old & new items that are part of my School Counseling toolbox. Today's post is on Feelings Scales. No link to this resource on Amazon, as these are something that I created myself.

Used as Likert-type scales, these scales have a visual component to assist students in identifying their current feeling or anger level. 

This one isn't anything fancy, but many of my students love Spongebob and respond well to counseling interventions that incorporate him.  I simply completed a Google Image search for "Spongebob Feelings" and found this assortment of faces. Afterwards, I arranged them so that Spongebob became progressively happier.  I then aligned them with numbers 1-10 (Pictured below is actually a bulletin board border found at the DOLLAR STORE!).

I begin many of my individual sessions by having students "check-in" with Spongebob. This helps me to determine what they are currently feeling/what kind of mood they are in. Once they have identified with a face and the accompanying number, I might ask them things like: "What makes you a ten today?", "Oh, a five? What needs to happen for you to reach a 7 today?" This "check-in" adds a sort of routine and consistency to my meetings with students. 

The scale below is similar to the Spongebob Scale, but it is shaped like a thermometer and students use it to identify their level of anger, frustration, etc. You can modify the sayings that I used, or you could add numbers to various intensifying shades of red. 

If you're in a bit of a time crunch, a simple Google Image search for "feelings scales for kids" will provide you with an assortment of images that you can easily print and utilize with students! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Toolbox Tuesday: Three Bear Family

Time for another Toolbox Tuesday! I will use these weekly posts to share both old & new items that are part of my School Counseling toolbox. Today's post is on the "Three Bear Family". Check them out on Amazon here

You may recognize these small friends from Kindergarten or preschool classrooms. They are typically used to assist students with counting, sorting, and color identification. As I was in school getting organized to start my job this year, many teachers were cleaning and organizing their own classrooms and had various items in a "free" pile. Among a few other things, I chose 60-count box of these colorful bear friends! How do I use them??

1. Group Counseling Behavior Management- I'd love to say that all of my counseling groups go completely smooth with lots of sharing and few behavior concerns. But let's be real. For elementary students, I use the red, yellow, and green bears in particular. If they consistently break one of our group rules or are disruptive, I remove one bear at a time beginning with the green one and working backwards to red. Group members know that they will not earn a sticker for their chart if they have a red bear or zero bears at the conclusion of the group. Do they have an opportunity to earn bears back? Absolutely. This strategy does seem to work well with the younger students, as many of the K, 1st and 2nd grade teachers utilize a similar color behavior management system. 

2. Sand Tray/ Creative Play Manipulatives- These bears can easily be incorporated into sand tray work or other counseling practice where students are telling a story or re-creating a situation where visuals would be helpful. Depending upon the pack that you use, some even include bears of different sizes.

3. Create a Game! - School Counselors are professionals at making things up/fielding things on the fly, right?! When in a pinch, have students "help' you to count or sort these bears, or create a simple game to help re-focus a student! 

The possibilities are endless with these little bear friends! A small and fairly inexpensive tool to have around the office. Some teachers in your building may even have an extra pack or two! 

Have a GREAT week! :) 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Children's Mental Health Awareness

"I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."

Lately I have been flying through the Divergent book series. The above quote is one of the lines that inspires the Dauntless faction. I found myself marking this page and going back to re-read its context several times.

As we embark on Children's Mental Health Awareness Month, I feel that this quote adequately represents our role as Professional School Counselors, and as Advocates. On a daily basis, we encounter a range of student concerns. Although not all of our students possess a "diagnosis", per say, they regularly encounter situations, that, if not approached with the proper coping skills, can have a significant effect on their overall "mental health".

It is our job, as the quote states, to stand up for these students. To provide them with personal/social skills & tools that they can utilize. To challenge rules that may deny them access to opportunities or services. To be their voice, a listening ear, and sense of support at all times. Does this require acts of bravery on our part? Absolutely. Will we encounter individuals who consistently come from a place "no"? For sure. But will our unwavering determination inspire others and eventually be recognized? With time. And we will be on our way towards the development of high aspirations & support for every child.

This Thursday, May 8th, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) encourages you to wear GREEN in support of Children's Mental Health Awareness. "Listen, Don't Label. Ask, Don't Fear." As advocates, let's help them to raise awareness. Visit for more information.