Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kid President Pep Talk

This kid is inspiring!  Thanks to Danielle at School Counselor Blog for sharing on Facebook!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Infinite Learning Lab

For today's Friday Find, I wanted to share a website that I found recently that is fun to use in small groups, individual counseling, or classroom guidance.  It features our favorite orange cat, Garfield!  The website is called Infinite Learning Lab and there are even iPad apps for each of the topics.  Garfield discusses topics in math, language arts, science,and life skills.

In the life skills section, there are videos on self control, Internet safety, self esteem, listening, cyber bullying, diversity, etc.  I love that kids can easily learn these topics from a character that they recognize. Students watch a video about the topic, try the will, and then apply it.

This website is easy to use with kids in individual counseling, small groups, and classroom guidance. I would love to try it on the smart board in a classroom.  Students are easily engaged and the videos open up discussions and serve as a great opening to my lessons.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Lose All Your Friends

How to Lose All Your Friends (Picture Puffins)How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson is one of my staple lessons in first grade.  This is a time when students are beginning to learn behaviors that can help them or hurt them in developing friendships. When starting this lesson, I always ask students, "Why do you think I would read you a story about how to lose your friends?"  They quickly come to the conclusion that I want for them to learn what NOT to do when making friends.  This story goes through some of the "big" mistakes that children sometimes make in making friends, such as being grumpy, tattling, not sharing, being a bully, etc.  The story is cute and the kids love to say "No!" or "that's wrong!"  as we go through the story.  After the story, I tell the students that they will have the chance to write their own book.  This book will be called How to Make Friends.  We brainstorm some ways that we can make friends (smiling, sharing, helping) and then I show them how to fold their paper into their book.  I tell them that just like my book had words and pictures, I want for their book to have the same.  The students love making these little books, and are so excited when they get to take them home.  The bonus is that they will have a take-home reminder of our lesson and how to effectively make and keep friends.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Seeing Red! An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum

Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for KidsEarlier this week, I posted about a Sesame Street video that touches on a common intervention for anger management, but I thought I'd share the incredible resource that I use in my Anger groups.  It's called Seeing Red:  An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum by Jennifer Simmonds.  This book has a comprehensive plan for each group session and goes through the step by step procedures for every group.  I love how simple it makes my planning.  I usually don't have my groups for longer than 6-7 sessions, so I'm never able to complete every lesson, but I have my "go-to" lessons and then pick and choose depending on the group's individual needs.

What I love about this book the most is that it makes my planning so easy.  It goes through every group session starting with the introduction session, and ending with a celebration.  I also love that it includes a self-assessment and Icebreakers for every group session.  The lessons are easily adaptable, and I've added my own spin to some of them.  She even includes an "estimated time" for each part of the session. My favorite session is the one on discovering our anger triggers.  There is a list of triggers and students are asked to lay down a "yes" or a "no" card depending on whether it makes them angry or not.  I took it one step further and made little signs with "yes" on one side and "no" on the other.  Students hold up their popsicle stick sign depending on their answer.  We then discuss how knowing what our anger triggers helps us to manage our anger in a healthy way.  Kids easily understand that by knowing what our triggers are, we are able to identify our anger early enough to make a good decision.

As I stated earlier, the book includes steps for every group session--from beginning to end.  The book includes 12 sessions, however, my groups typically only last 6-7 weeks, depending on the need.  When I start planning my groups, I alwasy have my "go-to" sessions--the ones I do with everyone.  These include "discovering my anger,"  "Warning: I'm getting Mad!," and "Digging Deeper: What's under all that anger."  With the other sessions, I decide which to use depending on the group dynamics and developmental level.  Another adjustment I made was with the session called "Digging Deeper."  I have used the anger mask in the past, but recently saw a blog post about creating "anger sandwiches."  I love being hands on in my groups so I decided to give it a try before Christmas.  It was a hit!  The kids were easily able to identify underlying feelings beneath their anger and put those inside the sandwich.  The top peice of bread was "Anger."  I also loved that they had something to take home after to review.

Have you used this resource?  How have you added your own "spin" to it?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sesame Street in Counseling

As I have been perusing Pinterest, I'm always finding new ideas to use in my counseling program. I have seen several videos from Sesame Street which promote pro social skills and align with my standards and counseling goals. Tonight while watching Sesame Street videos with my 1 1/2 year old niece, I was so excited to come across a video called Belly Breathe where Elmo sings along with Common and Colbie Caillat about taming the "monster" inside of you. I am so excited to use this video with my anger groups and individual students, but I also wanted to share with you!

Also, check out some of the other great Sesame Street songs that teach counseling related skills such as:

"What I Am" by Will.I.Am
"Don't Give Up" by Bruno Mars

Plus, there are tons of other Sesame Street videos on topics such as friendship, conflict resolution, feelings, etc.!

I love that I can use these videos to review concepts that I am already teaching children, and the catchy songs will help them to remember the skill.  Be sure to check out Sesame Street's website or YouTube channel for more videos that you can use in your counseling program.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Get Organized Without Losing It

Get Organized Without Losing It (Laugh & Learn)

For this weeks Friday Find, I wanted to share a resource that I use for Organization groups.  It is part of Free Spirit Publishing's Laugh & Learn Series.  The title is Get Organized Without Losing It by Janet S. Fox.  The back cover reads "Is yoru desk at school a distaster?  Is your school locker a shocker?  Do you spend tons of time looking for things you need to do your schoolwork or homework?"  This book is chock-full of tips and tools to help any child be organized, and covers all aspects of organization from organizing your things to organizing your time.

My favorite part of this book is how inclusive it is!  It  goes over all apsects of organization, and even uses a little humor.  I love that I can make copies of the after school scheduler, homework checklists, and project planner for my students to use.  The book also includes some great chapters on organizing your time, using your agenda, and how to successfully get ready for school (the night before, and the morning of.)  Kids really seem to enjoy the book, and I have enjoyed using it.  It even inclues a note to send to teachers or parents.

I have used this book for all aspects of my counseling program--individual, small group, and classroom guidance--and I've even recommended it to teachers.  In my small groups, I pick certain parts of the book to use, depending on the needs of my students. One year, I decided to make an "Organization Boot Camp" packet that included all types or tricks and tools to help students be organized.  We went through the packet in our group, and then the kids got to take it home.  In classroom guidance, we talked about some of the tips from the book and then got to go through our agendas and cubbies to do some cleaning and organizing!

I hope that you can enjoy this book as much as I have, and check out some of the other books in the Laugh & Learn Series.  Another favorite of mine is Dude, That's Rude!  (Get Some Manners) by Pamela Espeland & Elizabeth Verdick.  Maybe I'll write about that another day...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Self Care

In our classroom guidance lessons, small groups, and individual counseling sessions, we so often teach about coping strategies.  In my school, we teach about Habit 7: Sharpening the Saw--we even have a class about it in our "specials" rotation.  It's so funny that we spend all of this time teaching our kids this important habit, but often forget to do it ourselves.  So often, I find myself feeling like i'm right below the surface of the water--just paddling and paddling trying to get my head up, but not quite there.  It's easy for us counselors to feel this way--we take on everyone's issues while trying to balance our daily schedules and comprehensive counseling programs at the same time.  When I get like this, I know that I'm not dedicating enough time to self care.  I decided to put together a list of some ways that help me sharpen the saw, that I think could be helpful for any counselor.

  • Schedule a lunch!  I learned this lesson pretty quickly.  My first year or so was definitely a learning experience, and I figured out that stuff was going to come up!  Issues would come up, and before I knew it, the bell was ringing at the end of the day and I didn't eat a thing.  Every day, I have my schedule written out in my daily planner.  When i'm making my schedule-making time for students, classroom guidance lessons, and groups-I also schedule my lunch.  I dedicate 30 minutes to it.  It's written in my schedule and when something else comes up that I need to schedule, it has to be at a different time, or the next day.  My lunch is at a different time each day due to scheduling, but every day--it's in there.
  • Leave some openings.  On the same note, I also try to keep a couple of openings in my day.  I schedule the most important things first and then fill in with other things.  This year, I have been giving myself 15-30 minutes at the end of the day to catch up on writing my notes, finish up phone calls, or take care of emergencies that come up.  My school is on a block schedule, so I pretty much know the times that I can meet with kids, which makes scheduling this a little easier.
  • Leave on time on Friday.  I got this idea from another blogger, and it's something that I try to do as well.  We stay late so many days, so Friday is my day that I can leave right on time.  Every now and then a meeting comes up, but if not, I'm out the door!
  • Keep it at school.  There are 2 parts to this. 
    •  When you leave school, allow yourself to process the day on the ride home, and then leave it there.  Whatever chaos happened that day, whatever sad story you heard, leave it at school.  This is so hard to do, but it is important too.  While you're at school--work your hardest at helping the situation, but once you leave, it is no longer in your circle of influence.  Focus your time on things you enjoy, your family, your pets, and your friends.
    • If at all possible, try not to take schoolwork home with you.  I really strive to do this.  I am more likely to stay late after school, or taking time during the day to finish things up so that I don't have to take them home with me.  My time at home is dedicated to my family, myself, and my dog! 
  • Find a hobby.  This is something that I'm trying to dedicate more time to.  Go out and learn to do something new--crafting, hiking, bike riding, etc. 
  • Get outside.  There really is nothing quite like a breath of fresh air!  Make sure that you spend some time outside, doing something active.  What a great way to refresh yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Network.  Blogging has changed my life!  Reading experiences from other bloggers, and writing my own blog has reinspired me.  I feel refreshed, and I know that anytime that I'm feeling down or helpless, I can read school counseling blogs to get back on track.
Here's a picture with me and my #1 self care helper!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What To Do When You Worry Too Much

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids) [Paperback]
For my very first Friday Find, I wanted to share a resource that I have absolutely fallen in love with.  The book is called What to Do When You Worry Too Much:  A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner  I ordered this book to use with a small group, but I have found myself using it in individual counseling as well.  The book has several chapters that go through the different aspects of anxiety and has some really useful strategies.    I love how it explains anxiety in a kid-friendly way, and helps kids recognize anxious feelings.  The best part is that it is an activity book, so it makes it really easy to plan your sessions. 

I love the chapter about the worry bully!  Kids get to draw a picture of what they think their worry bully looks like.  Next we talk about telling the bully to "Buzz off!" or "get out of here!"  We even practice flicking the bully off of our shoulder and stomping on it.  I have a student who was in one of my worry groups and shows me how he flicks his worry bully off of his shoulder everytime I see him in the hallway.  I love it!

When I use this activity in small groups or individual counseling, I make copies of the "activity pages" and put them in a folded big piece of construction paper to create a worry book.  On the first day of our group, we go over the guidelines of the group and do the other activities I do when starting a new group, and then the kids get to decorate the cover of their worry book.  Then, as our group progressing, we go through the book and the kids get to do the activities in their own worry book.  The best part is, they can take it home at the end of our group and show it to their parents, look at it to remind themselves of strategies, etc.

I hope you will enjoy this resource as much as I have.  Also, be sure to check out more of Dawn Huebner's "What to do" books. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Feature!

I am excited to announce a new feature that I will begin on my blog!


Check here on Fridays to see recommendations on books, websites, games, and any other resource that I share.  I can't wait to share with you and hope that you'll share some great ideas with me as well!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

School Counseling Linky Party 2013

I was so excited to hear about the linky party that Marissa Rex over at Elementary School Counseling started, so here goes:

This is a tough one for me.  I haven't really added many features, except for the Shelfari widget :)  I hope to add more features in the new year.  Creating this blog has been a release for me.  It's a way to share and become refreshed as I journey through the challenging job of School Counseling.  Reading what others are doing and experiencing in their school helps me keep moving and stay motivated.  As I keep writing, I hope to come up with some creative features, so I hope that you will keep reading, if you have been reading my posts.5, so I've just spent about 20 minutes searching through my blog posts to find my favorite, and It's so hard to choose!  If I absolutely have to pick, I'd have to say that I really enjoyed writing about my daily schedule.  "A Day in the life."  It is rewarding to me to look back on my days work and think, WOW!  I'm one busy lady, and I DO make a difference.

According to my widget, my most popular blog post is "Whats the best part of an M&M?"  This is always one of my favorite lessons to do with students because it's fun for all of us...but more importantly, the students really have that "ah-ha" moment, which is so exciting.  I have been so excited to see my blog posts linked on pinterest this past year, which has really inspired to keep sharing!

This is a really tough one!! I have been inspired by so many of you!  I have celebrated with your successes, cried with your struggles, and been motivated by your ideas.  Some of the ones I'm always excited to see new posts by are: