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! :)