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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Anti-Bullying & Friendship Paired Lessons

In my school district we use the MARC Anti-Bullying Curriculum that was created by Dr. Elizabeth Englander. I have been lucky enough to attend many trainings with her over the years and we have even been so fortunate to have her speak to parents at our school. As part of the curriculum the 5th graders complete paired lessons with the kindergarteners and the 4th graders complete a paired lesson with the 1st graders. These lessons are supposed to happen 3 times a year but because those grade levels are not in the same building in my school district we have been doing the lessons once per a year and all the students really look forward to them each spring and enjoy their time with their younger or older buddy. This year the 5th grade and kindergarten teachers committed to adding a second lesson into the school year this fall! So myself and my fellow (AWESOME) School Adjustment Counselor at the lower elementary school, Carolyn Kelley, worked together to create a paired lesson that was based mainly on friendship skills for the kindergarteners with a little bit of anti-bullying built in. The 5th grade students read one of two books we had purchased to their younger buddy, Lucy and the Bully by Claire Alexander or Don't Call Me Pruneface by Janet Reed Ahern.

After the students read the books together and completed some comprehension questions about the books together we then had a few other fun activities planned for them to work on together. Next, we had each 5th grade and kindergarten pairing work on a Friendship Writing Prompt together. The students really enjoyed this part! Some of the 5th graders even worked on their own as well! The plan is to make a book for each kindergarten class of all their friendship drawings and writings. We found the Friendship Writing Prompt for FREE on TPT!
Thank you Katie Boyd on TPT for this FREE download, it worked wonderfully!
Finally, we had the students work on 2 activities from Spectacular Guidance Activities for Kids. I was lucky enough that Youth Light to send me this resource over the summer and it definitely came in very handy while planning this new MARC Paired Lesson.

The students worked on 2 handouts out of this great resource, the first was "What Do I Say" in which they had to come up with 6 conversation starters they could use when talking to a friend or classmate to help create a good repertoire of conversation questions and statements. This was great because the kids got to color and expand their thinking a little bit about how to start up or maintain a conversation with friends and classmates. Lastly, the students worked on a fun maze "Roadblocks to Friendship" in which the students had to figure out if the posed responses in the friendship situations was helpful or unhelpful to to encourage positive connections with classmates and friends.  An example the Kindergarteners had to choose from was 'Talks Too Much' or 'Good Listener' before moving onto the next roadblock.

It was such a wonderful day with the 5th graders and the kindergartners working together. I can't wait to pair everyone up again in the Spring! Pin It

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Create Your Own Thumb Balls!

I love using thumb balls during lunch bunches and sometimes students even pick them up during individual sessions while we are talking and use them to fidget with or pick questions they want to answer. This past summer the students in our summer program created their own Thumb Balls during our last week to take home with them to use with their families. I wanted to create Thumb Balls that would help encourage conversation skills so I laid out a bunch of conversation starter questions for the students to choose from. We read all the options to the students and let them choose the 6 they wanted to write on their personal thumb ball.  

As you can see the Thumb Balls are actually clearance beach balls from the end of the summer, so they only cost about 75 cents each!

Once all the beach balls had been written on we practiced a round of Thumb Ball with each one of the student's personalized ball so they got to see the game in action one more time and it also had more meaning to them when it was their own questions! It was a simple activity and the students got to take it home with them too, which always creates more excitement with the little ones.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Office for the 2015-2016 School Year

The school year is officially underway even though this week will be our first 5 day week! I always like to re-do my office every year with different colors because it helps me start each year off on a fresh start. This year I was inspired by some chalkboard borders that I saw and then I just went with it. I had to figure out how to make a chalkboard look in Photoshop for the different items around my office, so it was nice to learn something new too!

I have 2 bulletin boards in my room that you see right when you walk in the door. I love that I can put some great information up there for students to see and add some color to my office at the same time! I use fabric to back my bulletin boards each year instead of paper.

U R Bulletin Board is available on my TpT store for only $3. Just print the 5 signs in color and the words are all printed in black ink on colored paper. I laminate all my items so they last.

These are all signs that are from Technology Rocks Seriously. They were on white background originally but I used my new chalkboard skills on Photoshop to keep with my theme. I like how it makes them pop!

This is my Where is the Counselor Sign for this year. This item is also available on my TpT store. I put this sign on my door every year so staff and students know where they can find me. Sometimes I forget to change it, but the kids are so good about changing it! If I am sitting in my office they will joke and say "you aren't visiting a classroom anymore!" 

View from the doorway. The storage cubes are from Target when the have their back to school/college items. I always pick them up once they go on clearance, just bought one this weekend for $11! The rug is from Wal-Mart.

I love this saying! Character: It's how you live life when no one is looking. I also make the curtains for my office every year.

 This is the student area in my office. I have such a hard time picking which posters to use each year, there are so many great ones out there!

Above the whiteboard I post my confidentiality sign every year, it serves as a friendly reminder to students that what they say in here is private unless they are stating they are going to hurt themselves or someone else.

A closer look at the bin labels on my book shelves. Not only does it help the students locate different items but it helps keep everything neat and organized! The bin labels are also available on my TpT store.

Another view of the same area. My cabinet has The Top 10 Essentials on it this year. Just another great way to pass along tips to the kids, they love looking around and use the signs and posters to help them describe and discuss.
I use borders around my whiteboard and other large posters in my room to help them stand out. 

This is my desk area, this is the cleanest it will ever be! :)

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Under the Sea Me Mobile

Another activity that I did this past summer with one of my groups of boys entering second through third grade was a self-esteem activity based off of a previous lesson that I blogged about last year (Self-Esteem Me Mobiles). I wanted to tweak the activity to be a little more 'boy friendly' as well as incorporate a little summer flare to it as well. So I chose to use a wave and sea animals instead of the clouds, hot air balloons and rainbows in the original version. I just googled different animal images (sea turtle, jelly fish, whale, dolphin, sea horse, star fish, crab and nemo clown fish) on google images with the settings of drawing and kids to find all of these images (sea turtle example). The ocean wave I drew myself based off of a colored version I found online that I really liked, but you could easily just find a black and white coloring version to use too! Some kids could do all the cutting on their own, others needed some help and one or two needed a lot more assistance with the cutting as some of the animals were quite intricate with lots of legs! I had a slightly diverse group of kids abilities, but you can easily base your chosen sea animals based off of the skill level of your kids if you want them to be able to do all the cutting themselves.

As for the words that are written on each animal I followed the same questions as I used previously however, I also added a couple extras such as name something you are really good at and name your favorite game or activity.

The boys seemed to really enjoy the activity and were really excited to bring home their finished products!

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Monday, August 3, 2015


So this summer I had 2 groups of boys entering Kindergarten through 1st grade at summer camp/school. I try to keep it fun over the summer with the different groups! We did an entire unit related to MONSTERS with different activities that I found. The first activity went great with the students and it was FREE from Teachers Pay Teachers seller Growing-Kinders. The activity is called Monster Fun! Teaching Manners and Expectations and the kids absolutely loved it!

I broke the activities up over a few days. The first day I had the kids sort out together if the monster manners were Above the Line, Below the Line or Bottom Line choices and each kid would bring one up to my intern who acted as Vanna White to pin them up. The kids wanted to come up with some of their own to so I used the blank monsters that were provided to add even more to our Monster Manners collection! We also did the Whole Body Listening activity one day that was also provided and the students then drew their own monster Making a Good Choices at School. Like I said, the kids LOVED all the monster activities!

Another day we played the game Angry Monster Machine. The kids (sometimes with adult help) used play-doh to make a monster with the mold from the game. They then had to demonstrate different ways to handle their anger by following a prompt and demonstrating by turning their play-doh monster into something else. For instance, turning your monster into a musical instrument because turning on some music is a strategy for calming yourself down when angry.

Finally, we ended our monster theme by reading Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley together. One group made different monster masks with a paper plate craft I found on, they could choose from all the different monsters (glad, sad, mad, silly, scary, loving and worried). This was a really cute activity and the kids loved it, but it was a lot of cutting out of intricate shapes so I only ended up doing it with one of the two groups.

With the other group I did a slightly different activity, also found on We used the coloring pages and each student picked a different monster and colored them. Some students wanted to use the exact colors of the monster from Glad Monster, Sad Monster while others wanted to make their monster uniquely their own creation. Either way the kids loved the monster activities! One boy even asked me today if we were doing more monster activities, even though we finished up 2 weeks ago!!

It is amazing all the different resources you can find online if you just spend a little time searching! Thanks everyone for sharing all the great ideas and resources!
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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Board Games ... Part 2

I pulled out this game last week during the first week of summer school because it is one of my 'go to' board games with kids for social skills. It is called What Do You Say ... What Do You Do ... At School? by Super Duper and I used it with a group that ranged from students entering grades 1 through 6 (talk about a white range!!).  They also have a Community version which I use with my students as well, but I definitely use the school version more often! There is also a Home version but I haven't used it before.

During the game, the students roll the colored die to go through all the different areas of school. There are classrooms, a lunchroom, school offices (including nurse and counseling offices), specials (art, gym, music, computers, library and resource room) as well as around school locations like the hallway, auditorium, bus/walker lines and of course the playground! 

Students will go to the school locations and answer a question related to where they are in  school and earn a colored chip when the answer the questions cards correctly. The goal is to collect all of the colors to win the game, the tricky part is students may roll on a color more than once so they may end up going to a school location more than once. This helps students deal with not always winning and to be flexible when things don't go their way. I like this game because of the variety of questions (390 to be exact!) that are actually realistic scenarios that students actually encounter in their daily lives. In addition, the kids really enjoy choosing which location to go to (believe me the love to go to the bathroom and answer those questions!)

The price of the game is $54.95 from the Super Duper. Although this may seem expensive at first, I do think it is the going price for quality counseling games and I personally think this one is worth the money because you will use it often.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Board Games ... Part 1

So I know board games are not the most creative thing in the world for me to blog about, but let's be honest kids love them so I use them at school frequently to teach different skills! So I thought I would do a mini-series of blog posts about some of my favorite board games that I use with students. I would just like to preface this with a side-note that as with everything I and you use in your office things need to be modified and adapted to fit your needs, nothing is perfect! I am not reviewing these board games in any particular order, instead I chose Blunders because I just played it on Friday afternoon at school!
Current version of the game

Blunders is a board game about manners and is based on the family the Blunder's, Billy, Brenda, Bobby and Becky Blunder to be specific! I assign each student a member of the Blunder family as their playing piece (there is a little booklet in the game that tells you some background on each of the 4 kids, as well as their age) and ask them to find start. As the students travel through the game board I pose them with questions from 3 different categories: Home, Dine and Play depending on the spot they land on. The questions are either multiple choice, scenario or charades. I sometimes give the multiple choice options to my students depending on whether or not I think they could answer the question on their own. I do tend to always share the multiple choice options afterwards though because there tends to always be one option that is very funny/off the wall that makes the students laugh!

The Dine cards sometimes use some of the Table Setting Cards (fork, spoon, knife, main course plate, glass, etc.) to help teach students proper manners for setting the table. Although, this is not something they need to do in school I think it is always helpful to expose students to it because let's be honest it is not something we always use on a regular basis these days. Don't worry they provide an example of a 'proper' table setting for you to refer to in case you forget some of the answers too!

I think the most helpful part of this game are the charade questions because the students need to act out the situations they are provided. Some of the ones that stand out in my mind are answering the door at home and greeting someone and answering the phone at home when/if mom or dad is not available (in the shower I think is the example on the card). Although these may seem very basic to you I find they are not and that is why these 2 stand out in my mind because students tend to struggle with some of these concepts! It is always most helpful and interesting when students need to act something out instead of verbally just telling you an answer!
This is an older version of the game board that I own and use. Purple spaces are Dine questions, Orange are Home questions and Green are Play questions. 

According to the Patch Products website the board game focuses on the following:

  • Table Manners
  • Host and Guest Skills
  • Confident Introductions
  • Respect and Kindness
  • Telephone Manners
  • School Etiquette
  • Electronic Etiquette (this is not in my version, but once again I have an older version of this game. I think this is a great addition though!)
  • Honesty and Responsibility

     One of the best parts about this game is the price!! It retails for $24.99 and I have even seen it as low as $19.99; but either way that is so much lower than many of the other games that I use in my office that are easily $50.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy National School Counselor Week!

I would like to take a moment to wish all of the school counselors a Happy National School Counselor Week! Up here in Massachusetts we actually have a snow day today (looks like another foot on top of the 2-3 feet we got last week!), but what is everyone else doing to celebrate National School Counseling Week at your schools? Is it a big event at your school or is it something that you just mention to your fellow school counselors?

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