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Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Season of Giving

I don't know about you but this is my favorite time of the year! I love all of the good cheer all around and time spent with family and friends; not to mention a good excuse to shop!!

Unfortunately for many this is a season of stress; worrying about how to make ends meet providing for their families. Every year no matter what school district I am in, we always team up with a community agency/organization as a school community to help provide gifts during the holiday season to those in need. Depending on the year and the school we have been able to help upwards of 25 families each holiday season! WOW! This is most definitely one of the other reasons why I love this time of year, helping others!

I contact our community agency/ organization in early November to get a list of families in our community and the wish list of gifts the children and parents would like or need. The gifts generally range from socks and clothing items to toys and gifts cards. I then create a spreadsheet in Excel and use 'mail merge' to create labels for each item or group of items requested for each individual. Generally each child has about 6 snowflakes/ snowmen and each adult has about 4 with a label on each.

An example of a snowman that is located on the bulletin board at school.

In the main lobby/ hallway of my school I created a bulletin board (literally created from scratch this year because our new school doesn't have any bulletin boards!) with snowflakes and snowmen each individually labeled with a gift item needed.

I send home a letter to parents and students explaining how our school is helping to support families in our own community during the holidays. Parents can either grab a snowflake/ snowman off of the board during parent-teacher conferences or when they are in school volunteering. They can also contact me by phone or email to have one sent home. Staff also participates in the season of giving.

Above is a copy of the letter that I sent home to families this year.

We ask that all gifts purchased are delivered to school by mid December with the snowflake or snowman securely attached. Then as a staff we have a 'wrapping party' after school to wrap all of the gifts and organize them by family. I then load up my car and bring them all to the community agency/ organization. I LOVE IT!! :)


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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bucket Filling

I have been doing Bucket Filling for about 5 years in my elementary schools and I absolutely LOVE IT! If you are not familiar with Bucket Filling it is based off of Carol McCloud's Have You Filled A Bucket Today? book. She has authored 5 books in total about Bucket Filling and Tom Rath has also written a book entitled How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids that I use a lot as well.

The Bucket Filling concept is that our buckets are full when we are happy and feel good about ourselves. We need other people to help fill our buckets and they need us to help fill theirs. Filling another person's bucket is easy. A bucket can be filled by doing something as simple as a smiling and greeting someone, remembering to say thank you when someone has been kind, helping a friend with a problem, or complimenting someone on a job well done. Really the list is endless when it comes being a ‘Bucket Filler’. But sometimes, people dip into our buckets and that is called ‘Bucket Dipping’.  This is what we want to try to avoid doing to others. Bucket Dipping is when people use unkind words, bully others, say or do mean or inappropriate things, not helping others or not treating others in a respectful way.

I go into the classrooms and read one of the Bucket Filling books with the students to introduce the concept to them. I go over what Bucket Filling is and what Bucket Dipping is as well introduce some examples of both.                        

I then go into a more interactive portion of the classroom guidance lesson where the students actually get to practice filling each other buckets. I include the teacher and any assistants in the classroom in this activity as well. I give half of the class buckets and the other of of the class gets bingo chips. The students with the chips go around to the students with the buckets and give them either a specific and personal compliment or say something nice to them then drop one or two chips into their buckets. We continue this for a little while with the adults assisting the students as needed. We then gather on the carpet and the students share something that was said to them that really filled their buckets and made them feel good. We then switch it up and the students with the buckets get chips and we do it all over again. 

I get my buckets at Target's dollar section. These are some that I picked up this weekend while they were 70% off, so they were only 30 cents each.

I then go over the Bucket Filler of the Week program at our school and show the students the slips they will be using to nominate each other. Staff members can also nominate students. I give each classroom their own bucket with Bucket Filler of the Week slips in it.

I made these slips using the BucketFiller image from for use in my school only to help reinforce the concept with students.

When a student is a Bucket Filler of the Week at my school they get a certificate, a Bucket Filler sticker, a Bucket Filler pencil and their group picture is taken. I display the group picture outside my office and the principal also posts their picture on our school blog this year which is pretty neat for the kids! I really try to make being chosen as a Bucket Filler of the Week seem like a big deal.

I made this certificate using the BucketFiller image from for use in my school only to help reinforce the concept with students.

I recently came across a Bucket Filling SMART Board lesson online that I think I am going to edit this year to use with my 5th and 6th grade students as the interactive piece during their classroom guidance lesson. I need to edit to use with an older audience and personalize it more to the school setting. Once I get around to doing this I will definitely share it with everyone. But it looks pretty interesting - let me know if any of you have already used it and what you think!
BucketFiller newsletter blurb that was sent home to families. The logo is taken from to help reinforce the concept at home.

Below are some examples of different bulletin boards I have done throughout the years for Bucket Filling.
I put the group picture of the Bucket Fillers of the Week up on the bulletin board in the middle of their art work.

The coloring page is available here.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

What You Say in Here Stays in Here ...

This past summer on the School Counselor Blog Danielle Schultz talked about how she decorated the walls in her school office. She had created a couple of signs that I absolutely loved and one in particular that wanted to include in my office this year. I loved the banner she created about student privacy, "What You Say in Here Stays in Here." As I mentioned in a previous post, I sort of have a theme in my office this year of polka dots and the colors pink, green and blue so I wanted to relay the same message to my students and keep with my new office decor. 

So I used Photoshop Elements once again to create my own "What You Say in Here Stays in Here" sign and printed it on as a 36"x24" poster. I then laminated the poster at my school. I hung the poster above my desk on the wall facing my office door so that as students passed my office they would always be reminded that what they say in my office remains private. 

I have posted the pdf file on my Teachers Pay Teachers page for other school counselors to utilize in their own offices as well. Or you can also purchase Danielle's version at the School Counselor Blog Store.

Do you have a sign that you absolutely must hang every year in your office? If so what is it? I would love to share it with other school counselors!!

How do you let students know about confidentiality in your office?


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

It's all in a name ...

So you probably saw on Danielle Schultz's School Counselor Blog or Facebook page this week the Ecard that she made about being mistakenly called a Guidance Counselor when you are a School Counselor. It certainly would bother me because we have all worked so hard not only when we were in grad school but also now that we are in this profession helping students, teachers and families. Over the years our roles have changed and evolved to be so much more.

Now I am a School Adjustment Counselor which is a little but different than a School Counselor in Massachusetts (my masters degree is mental health counseling based and a bit lengthier than my friends with a masters in school counseling). I get mistakenly called a lot of different things from people ranging from Guidance Counselor to the one that bothers me the most - the Feelings Teacher! It has become a running joke at school between some of my colleagues because they know it bothers me so much! So I decided to make my own ecard based off of Danielle's!

What do you guys think? Is there a title you get mistakenly called at school that bothers you? Do you correct people when they misspeak or do you just let it go?


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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Worry Stones

I use worry stones with numerous students throughout the school year. The concept is that if you rub the worry stone in your hand then it will help your worries go away. I also love it because they students physically have something in their hand which helps with fidgeting as well!

I used to make all of my worry stones at home and then bring them into school. However, last year I had an epiphany and have had the students help make them! The kids love it because they made it themselves so it holds even more value to them. I have also had students in my friendship lunch bunches help me make them this year because they just think it is a fun craft and they get to play with the clay. Some students have really become quite creative with their designs!

I prefer to use Fimo Soft and Soft Effect Clay. I purchase the clay at my local Michael's Store and when it goes on sale for 4 for $5 I stock up. You can even get your teacher discount in addition to the sale price! 

Below are step-by-step photo directions to make your own worry stones. 

Step 1: Pull off a small amount of 2-3 colors of clay.
Step 2: Push the clay together to form a ball.
Step 3: Roll and twist the clay in your hand to make a 'snake'.

Step 4: Either take your 'snake' and smoosh it together (yes that is the technical term!) or coil it.

Step 5: Roll it into a ball.
Step 6: Press your thumb into the ball until you have an indentation that you can rub your thumb in.

Once you have made several worry stones you need to bake them at 230 degrees for 30 minutes. I bake them in foil pans so there is absolutely no clean up.

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lunch Bunches

New Kids Lunch Bunch
During the first week of school I sent out my New Kids Lunch Bunch invitations. I use a pdf file from Marco's Creative Small Groups and personalize it a bit on my computer.

I use the same Lunch Bunch Invitation throughout the school year for all my different lunch bunches.

During the New Kids Lunch Bunches we played Get To Know You Jenga. I detailed this activity in my previous blog post.

Get To Know The Counselor Lunch Bunch
I conduct a lot of lunch bunches throughout the school year with students. Last year I did "Get To Know The Counselor" Lunch Bunches with every student in my school, all 575 of them! I did this because I was new to the school district and I think it is very important for all the students to know who I am and it was a great chance for me to meet every student in the school in an informal setting. 

This year I am only doing the "Get To Know The Counselor" Lunch Bunches with the 3rd grade students because they just transitioned into our school from the lower elementary school. Each week I eat with students from a different classroom. I ask the classroom teacher to divide their students up into groups of about 5 students; I leave it up to the classroom teacher how to divide up the students. Some teachers just go in numerical or alphabetical order, others divide them up by gender and others do mixed groups. I eat with about 5 students a day and by Friday I have met an entire class!

When I went to go visit the 2nd graders last year (current 3rd graders) at their elementary school to introduce myself and answer questions about my school I told them about these lunch bunches and they were very excited. The students have been asking since the first week of school when these lunch bunches would start up so it was nice to start getting to know them better this week.

These are just informal lunch bunches so we just chat about how things are going, what their interests are and what their favorite and least favorite things are about school. This gives me a lot of information about who they are and I also start noticing some trends as the weeks go by! 

I also keep some interesting things (mind jars, Find It Kids, etc.) on my table to  help spark conversation in quieter groups.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Personalized Name Plate For My Office

I saw on the Entirely Elementary School Counseling blog a name plate that she purchased for her office and thought hmm I could make something like this myself! So my creative juices started flowing!

So the 'theme' for my office this year is polka dots and the colors pink, green and blue; I wanted to continue this into my name plate as well. I downloaded a black and white polka dot clip art that I used for the background of my name plate. I then used the same squiggly line frame that I used on my bin labels in my office and stretched it in Photoshop Elements to create a larger size. (I got my FREE bin labels from Fun in Room 4B's TPT page.) I then downloaded the FREE Illuminate font and used it in Photoshop Elements to type my name, position and room number on top of my background layers. I printed my design in color and then laminated it at my local Staple's Copy and Print Center

I then made a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to purchase some ribbon for my sign. I got 3 different types of ribbon, two 5/8 inch and one 3/8 inch ribbon. I then took my 1-hole puncher and used it several times to create 2 holes large enough to push the ribbon through. I knotted the ribbon in the front of the sign and left just a little bit of ribbon out in the front.

Now that my name plate was complete I took it to school and hung it outside my office on the glass panel next to my door using plastic hook from my local Lakeshore Learning store.


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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Get To Know You Jenga

We just completed our first full week of school and I met with the new students at my school during grade level lunch bunches. I used a FREE DOWNLOAD from Rachel Lynette's Teacher's Pay Teachers page to play Get To Know You Jenga. The kids loved it and asked to play again next week.

To save a little bit of money I purchased Jumbling Tower at Wal-Mart instead of Jenga, the generic version only cost me about six dollars! Every little bit of savings helps!


I downloaded the free PDF file off of Rachel's TPT page and then printed it out. I then cut out the strips and used double sided tape to attach the strips of questions to the wooden blocks. I had a few extra question strips left over (it may have been because used the generic version of Jenga) but that was perfect because there were a couple questions that weren't 'just right' for my audience.

I set the game up ahead of time so when the students walked into my room we were able to start playing immediately after some introductions and some quick conversation.

As the students answered the different questions on the blocks they were able to share a bit about themselves in a fun and unobtrusive game setting. Not only did the kids learn about each other but I was also able to learn about the interests of my new students. It was a win win!

Please check out Rachel Lynette's Teacher's Pay Teachers page to download your own copy of Get To Know You Jenga. I have also used this game during the first week of my weekly small groups, such as friendship and social skills groups.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where Is The School Counselor Sign

I get a lot of my ideas from other school counselor's blogs and off of Pinterest and this was one of the first! This idea came from Danielle at (love her blog!) and I adapted it for myself.

I started with a piece of small poster board and 13 pieces of scrapbook paper: 6 glitter sheets for the circles, 6 patterns for the different sections and 1 sheet of black glitter for the dial. I created a half circle off of the poster board based on the size I needed for outside my office and then did some quick measuring to determine the size of the 6 sections. I chose: in a meeting, out of the building, visiting a class, in the main office, with students and be right back; but you can do whatever is best for you! I traced a kitchen glass for the circles with the locations listed in them. Once I had everything cut out I used spray adhesive to mount everything. I then laminated the whole design. For the dial I just drew a basic shape, cut it out and laminated that as well. To attach the dial to the design I used a brad.

Don't forget to use your Teacher Rewards at JoAnn Fabric's to save money!

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