Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kindness Counts and The Potato Chip Champ

One of my favorite authors is Maria Dismondy.  I have purchased several of her books and recently came accross the "Potato Chip Champ".  This book can be used in so many ways AND there is a fabulous teaching guide on the author's website! I divide my students into centers for this unit and the students always have a lot of fun! 

The Potato Chip Champ

Book Description (from Maria's Site):  Champ and Walter Norbert Whipplemoore are about as different as two kids can be…well, except for their love of baseball and potato chips. Champ had everything, but always wanted more. Walter had very little, but was never seen without a smile on his face. In the end, it is Walter and some crunchy potato chips that teach Champ a lesson about character that can't be taught in school.
You can purchase the book HERE.
I love that the character's in this story are BOYS who love baseball and potato chips.  I have a hard time finding stories that the boys relate to and my 3rd graders seemed to love this one.  The story has a great message and reminds kids to be kind to others. 

Centers: All of these activities can be found HERE.

1)  Discussion Center 1:  Comprehension Chips

2)  Discussion Center 2:  Comprehension Catcher

3)  Writing Center 1:  Catching Connections

4)  Writing Center 2:  Share the Good News

5)  Service Center:  R.A.K. challenge

6)  Drama:  Sing about Character

7)  Game Center 1:  Kindness is Catching

8)  Game Center 2:  Pathway to Empathy

9)  Creativity:  Character Cards-Create a baseball card for champ

You can find the teaching guide here:  Teaching Guide

My students loved the potato chip comprehension questions!

You can connect to other lessons HERE and HERE

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

School Anxiety/Refusal

It isn’t unusual for a students to have some anxiety at the beginning of the school year.  In fact, I spend a good chunck of my time calming down crying children that first week of school. But for some students, school causes so much anxiety that they will do anything to avoid going.  This behavior is called school refusal. 

Student's who fall in this category are students who are cronically absent, constantly ask to see the school nurse, or who cry excessively as the school day is starting.  Once any medical issue is ruled out, it is time for the school counselor to step in.  

Here is some information on school anxiety/refusal:

School Anxiety/Refusal

School refusal is a BEHAVIOR and a CHOICE!

The student thinks:  When I don’t feel well I CAN’T go to school.

I’m not going to school because I don’t feel good.
I will use my coping strategies to get to school.

Somatic Symptoms:  Stomach aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting

These symptoms most often occur during PE, Math and lunch.

What causes school anxiety/refusal?

Starting school, moving, and other stressful life events may trigger the onset of school refusal. Other reasons include the child’s fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student.

Often a symptom of a deeper problem, anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven, and at times of transition, such as entering middle and high school.

Children who suffer from school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence. But they may develop serious educational or social problems if their fears and anxiety keep them away from school and friends for any length of time.

There are four functions of school refusal:

·        Avoidance of negative affect (somatic symptoms)

·        Escape from evaluative or social situations (social phobia, OCD, perfectionism)

·        Attention seeking behaviors (separation anxiety, gaining sympathy from family)

·        Pursuit of tangible reinforces (video games, internet, sleep, drug use)

If you allow your student to stay home:
·        Their world gets smaller and smaller.  Anxiety starts with school and then it spreads to other situations/places.

·        Your child will not learn to manage feelings of discomfort.

·        Your child will not learn to experience disappointment.

·        Your child will not learn appropriate conflict resolution.

·        You child will not learn how to appropriately communicate his/her needs.

·        As an adult they will stay home from work when they experience somatic symptoms.

·        You are teaching your child that they CANNOT manage.

·        You are sending a message to your child that they cannot handle school.

·        Your child may turn to unhealthy ways of dealing with anxiety as they get older-such as alcohol, drugs, self-harm, etc…


School Anxiety/Refusal Parent tips
Things you should NEVER say to your child when they are feeling anxious:
·         You’re not sick
·         You are making yourself sick
·         You will be fine
·         You’re going to have a great day
What you SHOULD say to your child:
·         How do we manage that feeling? (ask once)
·          I know you and I know that you can do this.  Tell me what you are going to do if you start to feel sick. (once)
·         Nothing else-Do not respond to pleas to stay home or complaints about somatic symptoms. 
Parents need to:
·         Be consistent!
·         Talk to the student the night before
·         Show that the PARENT is in charge
·         Have the child ride the bus when possible
·         Make being sick unpleasant-no tv, no attention, no sympathy

·         Let your child manipulate you
·         Show that you are upset
·         Give in!
·         Act anxious yourself-this makes the child more anxious
·         Coax or reassure-the child needs to take responsibility
·         Dote on your child when they are sick.  This reinforces the behavior
·         Talk about the teacher/school/other staff in a negative way in front of the child
What the school counselor can do:
·        Provide information about anxiety
·        Give suggested response techniques
·        Graph anxiety
·        Teach ways to manage somatic symptoms
·        Analyze situations that cause anxiety
·        Match student up with a peer
·        Provide fidgets, stress balls
·        Provide time for journal/drawing
·        Match physical symptoms with coping skills and provide time to practice
·        Teach mindfulness and grounding techniques
·         Provide a worry box

I will be sharing a 6-week unit on school anxiety/refusal in an upcoming post.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Connecting Bully-Prevention with Common Core Standards

I will be back to share some bullying lessons that I have created, but for today I wanted to share some great links.  These links will take you to bullying lessons that are already connected to the Common Core Standards. 

This first link alignes a toolkit of bully-prevention activities with the Common Core Standards.

This is an awesome resource!  The ABC's of Bullying Prevention shares 3 lessons for each grade level.  I was so excited to find this and wanted to share:

Think Twice Play Nice uses children's literature to take a stand against bullying.  They did a great job connecting their information to Common Core.  I will be ordering some new books for my classroom after reading this packet!

There are also some free samples of the Bully Free Program out there.  These are written for 2nd and 3rd grade:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Alexander's Bad Day

I use Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for individual, small-group and classroom counseling.  After all, everyone has bad days! 

Here are some links to lessons that I have used:



Why did Alexander have such a bad day?

Did anything good happen to him?

List the bad things that happened to Alexander:

What do you think was the worst thing that happened to Alexander on his bad day?

Could Alexander have done anything to make his day a little better?

What did Alexander’s mom say at the end of the story that made him feel better?

Why do you think Alexander wanted to go to Australia?

What are some things that have happened to you on the worst day you’ve ever had?

I have also used this:

I like to have students rewrite this story with a new title: Alexander and the wonderful, fabulous, very good day. (or something similar). Before we write the story, we brainstorm strategies for managing anger. In this new story, Alexander comes accross the same obstacles, this time using the strategies that we have talked about (for example, walking away, cooling off, talking it out).

Follow up: Have students share times that they used the conflict resolution/anger mangagment techniques.

ASCA Standards:  

PS:A1.5Identify and express feelings
PS:1.6 Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior
PS:1.8 Understand the need for self-control and how to practice it
PS:1.2 Understand consequences of decisions and choices
PS:B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems
PS:C1.10 Learn techniques for managing stress and conflict

Common Core (I used this lesson with 3rd graders):  

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace
  • Everyone has a talent!

    Another book that I just love is Jack's Talent:  You Can Buy It Here

    Description (from Amazon):  On the first day of school, Miss Lucinda asks the students to share their special talents. Francesca is a star soccer player, Matthew can catch huge fish with his grandpa, and Candace is an excellent artist. It seems that everyone has something to share. But Jack is worried. He doesn't have any talent at all . . . or so he thinks.  Acrylic paintings that pop with energy and charm make this story by veteran author and illustrator Maryann Cocca-Leffler the perfect boost for any child who questions his or her abilities.

    Counseling activities:  Use your name to create an acrostic poem showcasing your talents. 

    Draw a picture of your special talent and write about it.  If you use this activity for a classroom lesson, put the pages together to make a class book.

    I have students write their talent and illustrate a picture on here: 

    Connection to Careers:  Make a list of possible careers that go along iwth the talents mentioned in the book.

    Website:  http://www.maryanncoccaleffler.com

    ASCA Standard:  A1.1  Develop positive attitudes toward self as a unique and worthy person


    Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

    One of my favorite counseling books is, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow.  It can be used for so many different topics:  bullying, self-esteem, confidence, conflict resolution, overcoming obstacles, respecting differences, etc...

    Molly Lou Melon is the shortest girl in the first grade.  She has buckteeth and several other traits that make her different.  Her grandma told her, “Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you". Taking her grandmother’s advice, Molly Lou doesn't worry about being different at her new school.  She deals with the school bully by showing him that her faults are actually talents.

    I found several great lesson plans online that I will share:
    Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon- lessons FREEBIE

    Free Worksheet




    alongside:  side by side
    boa constrictor:  a snake covered with spots
    proudly:  having or displaying excessive self-esteem or being proud of yourself
    foolish:  lacking good sense or judgement (silly)
    glee:  high spirited/joy
    revealed:  to make known or to show something
    bully:  A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
    unique:  Being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else
    flaw:  An imperfection
    strength:  being strong
    fumble:  to drop something
    glee:  happiness


    Before Reading:

    • Looking at the cover, what do you notice about Molly Lou?
    • What do you think this story is about?
    • What do you think "Stand Tall" means?
    • Have you ever had a time when someone was not nice to you?
    • Have you ever been called names because people thought you were different?
    • How did that make you feel?
    • How did you solve the problem? (we talk about using Kelso's Choices here) http://kelsoschoice.com/

    While Reading/After Reading:

    • What made Molly Lou different from her classmates? (use pictures in story for reference)
    • What advice did Molly Lou's grandmother give her?
    • What did Molly Lou do when Ronald picked on her?
    • How did Molly Lou feel about herself?  How do you know?
    • How did Molly Lou “stand tall”?
    Follow-up Activities:

    • Common Core encourages cooperative learning. Pair students and have them interview each other in order to find unique facts about one another.
    Common Core Connection:
    CCSS.ELA-Literacy RL.1.3  Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

    CCSA.ELA-Literacty.RL.1.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL1.7 Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas

    ASCA Standards:

    A1.1  Develop positive attitudes toward self as a unique and worthy person
    A2.3 Recognize, accept, respect and appreciate individual differences
    A2.6 Use effective communication skills
    B1.3 Identify alternative solutions to a problem
    B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems
    B1.6 Know how to apply conflict resolution skills