Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Okay To Be Different-We All Fit In!

I was recently introduced to Todd Parr's books and I have to say that I am loving them!  They are bright, colorful and pretty funny.  I just finished a lesson using It's Okay to be Different.  This is a lesson that I have done for years but I always used the book What I Like About Me!.  I like to switch things up but I could probably use both books and make the lesson even more meaningful!

Both of these books teach remind children that it's okay to be different. These books teach kindness, empathy, diversity and most importantly, self-acceptance.
Discussion:  What does the term diversity mean?  Take some time to discuss student's thoughts and ideas about diversity.  Do you know anyone who is like the characters in the story?  Why do you think the author used the colors that he did?  
Activity:  Play a version of "Simon Says" where students do something if they meet certain criteria.  Some examples:
If you are 7 years old stand up
If you have brown eyes put your hands on your head
If you wear glasses turn around
If you like green beans stand on one foot

Activity:  Play compliment tag  Have students sit in a circle and pick one person to be "it".  This student says another student's name and then gives that student a compliment.  The student responds by saying "Thank You".  The student who received the compliment is now "it" and must compliment another student in the group.  This continues until each student has had a chance to receive a compliment.

Activity:  Give each student a puzzle piece (link below).  You can have them draw a picture of them-self on the puzzle piece OR you can have them decorate it however they would like.  I have done both ways.  Once everyone is fineshed, put all of the pieces together.  Lead on discussion about all of the unique pieces coming together to create one beautiful picture.  

Diversity Puzzle:  Puzzle Pieces  or Puzzle Kit

Todd Parr's Webpage has some FUN stuff:  Fun Stuff

It's Okay to Wear Boys Socks-A Very Diverse Lesson
It's Okay to be Colorful and Creative
It's Okay to Feel Different
Ipad App
It's Okay to be Different
Class Book Idea

Common Core Connections:
RL.1.1 Ask and answer questions about key details in text.
RL.1.2 Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
RL.1.3  Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

Speaking and Listening
SL.1.1a Follow agreed-upon rules for discussion.
SL1.1b Build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Day It Rained Hearts

I always teach my "Bucket Filling" unit in February so that I can use this book:  The Day it Rained Hearts.

Cornelia August has a big heart and when it starts raining hearts, she catches them and uses them to make Valentine's Day cards.  Cornelia August puts a lot of thought into her cards, using just the right heart for each friend. This story can be used at any point during the school year but I try to use it around Valentines Day.   We have a discussion about kindness/thoughtfulness and relate this to the bucket filling concept.

Discussion Questions:
1.  Why did Cornelia Augusta make Valentines Day cards for her friends?
2.  Why did she study the hearts?
3.  Why did she cut holes in one heart?
4.  Why do you think that it was so important for Cornelia August to pick the perfect heart for each one of her friends?
5.  How do you feel when you get a thoughtful gift?
Activity:  After your discussion, have students create their own heartfelt gift.  You can keep this super simple and provide only paper and markers or you can provide simple materials such as paint, tissue paper, glitter, string, heart stickers, etc...

Connections:  you can find free printables here:  Teachers Pay Teachers.  Free Clipart images from the story HERE.  You could also get this activity for a few dollars:  Teachers Pay Teachers.

Some ideas for heartfelt projects:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spreading Rumors

One of the books that I use to introduce the topic of rumors is She Said What About Me?   

The main character in She Said What About Me? discovers that her "friend" has told lies about her. She can't understand why her friend would do this and becomes so upset that she doesn't want to go to school.  She ends up talking to her parents who bring her to talk to the school counselor.  With their help, she decides to talk-it-out with her "friend".  

I like this book for several reasons:
1.  I love that the school counselor is involved.  This story is a great reminder that students can go to their school counselor for help.
2.  I love that the girls "talk-it-out".  I use the Kelso's choice curriculum and this is one of the 9 ways to solve a problem.
3.  The story shows how hurtful it is when someone spreads rumors.
4.  I like that the girls are able to repair their friendship.
5.  There are 12 discussion questions at the back of the book.

Telephone:  We play the traditional game of telephone to show how a message can change as it is passed from one person to another.  I usually pull one student into the hall and tell them a simple message.  I instruct them to return to the classroom to whisper it in the next person's ear.  The process continues until the "rumor" has been spread to each student in the classroom.  The last person announces the message as they heard it.  The final message definitely changes after it goes through a class of 15-20 kids!  

Toothpaste:  Start by telling students that they will each squeeze a large amount of toothpaste onto a paper plate.  Explain that each glob of toothpaste represents a rumor coming out of their mouth. Once the toothpaste tube is empty ask for a student volunteer.  Instruct this student to put the toothpaste back in the tube.  Obviously, the student will not be able to put the toothpaste back in.  This can lead to a great discussion about the power of words and how words can't be taken back once they are spoken.  Once a rumor is out there, damage has been done and we can't undo it.  We also talk about how easy it was to spread the rumor (squeeze out the toothpaste), but impossible to take the words back (put the toothpaste back).

Posters:  Each student can pick a topic and make a poster to hang in the wall or in the classroom. (idea from the back of the book).

For Small Groups: A coworker recently recommended the book, The Drama Llama.  This book includes a story as well as worksheets/activities.  

Another great book about spreading rumors is The Secret that Olivia Told Me.  

You could also use the She Said What About Me Card Game.  I don't own this game but it looks like it would be good for a small group setting.  

More lessons on rumors/gossip can be found here:

Don't Spread Rumors

Monday, February 9, 2015

Counseling Documents (Data Collection and Parent Contact)

Today I am sharing two forms that I use on a daily basis.  The first form is a form that teachers fill out for new student referrals and the second form is the form that I send home with students after each counseling session so that their parent/gaurdian knows what they are working on in counseling.

Referral Process.  Anyone can refer a student to see me for school counseling services.  I get the majority of my referrals from teachers.  Either way, once I have a student referred for services, I give the teacher this form:  Data Collection.  The teacher fills out the form and returns it to me.  I then use this information to come up with goals for the student.  This form usually stays between the teacher and I but there have been cases where it has been shared with parents.  I usually begin seeing the student within one week of the referral date.  I then begin using this form:  Parent Follow-up.  I use the parent follow-up form so that parents feel in-the-loop.  I make a copy for myself and keep the copy in my file.  This form has been a life saver.  I have had great feed-back from parents.

Connections to other referral forms and counseling documents:
School Counseling Referral Form by Music City School Counselor

TPT: Self-Referral for school counseling

TPT: Self-Referral Form For School Counseling

Individual Counseling Forms From Elementary School Counseling

Guide to the Referral Process (with forms)

Elementary Counseling Office

Today I am going to share some pictures of my counseling room.  I am lucky enough to also have my own classroom to do classroom lessons in so I actually store a lot of my movies and games in that room.  My counseling office is located right off of our 5th-8th grade hallway so that I am easily accessible to our middle school students.  My room is the perfect size and I really love it. I know that I am quit lucky to have the space that I have!  I will show some whole-room pictures at some point but due to confidentiality reasons I am just showing some important areas of my room.  

I love having a white board in my room.  I also love that each side has a bulletin board.  I use my white board every single day.  Students love to write on it and it gives them a break from  having to look at me/maintain eye contact.  You can see that this lesson was on expected verses unexpected behaviors.  If you don't already use "Social Thinking" you should definitely check it out.  This Social Detective Book is a good starting point.  

This is another area that is used daily.  I use the Zones of Regulation materials with so many of my students and wanted to have a place where they could check in and report their zone/feeling.  If you use the Zones of Regulation materials with your students then I would recommend also checking out My Book Full of Feelings (how to control and react to the size of your emotions) and The Incredible 5-Point Scale.  

I store a lot of my books in these labeled file holders so that I can find them easily.  I bought mine at Target but you can find similar ones HERE

This is my "Calming Down Corner".  You can see my cue cards hanging on the wall.  I will admit that these don't get used very often but I do keep them there "just in case".  I also have a container of sand,  Kinetic Sand, JENGA, PLAY-DOH, WORRY DOLLS, FIDGETS, STRESS BALLS,  and a CALMING/TIME OUT JAR.
 I have my Zones of Regulation materials on one side of my counseling table and this train on the other side.  I found the train in a book that I use ALL THE TIME.  Groups To Go: Small Groups for Counselors on the Go/k-3 is a great book for a busy counselor.  Anyway, back to the train.  You can see the different skills that we work on are printed on each train car.  This is perfect for an 8-week small group focused on ADHD type behaviors.  If you buy Groups to Go you will find lesson plans and activities for each skill...making your job much easier!   

This is the wall right above my desk.  I wrote to several universities asking them for pendants and all of these schools sent them to me for free:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teaching Self-Control with Clark the Shark

Clark the Shark loves life but he acts impulsively and struggles with self-control. He struggles with self-control in the lunchroom, in the classroom and on the playground.   Clark's energy and excitement cause him to become so out of control that he gets himself in some trouble.  Clark uses rhymes to help him remember appropriate ways to behave.

Clark the Shark is the perfect book for starting a conversation about classroom rules.  I have used this book during kindergarten classroom guidance lessons and the kids loved it. This book is also great to use in small group lessons focused on self-control, behavior, impassivity, friendship behaviors, etc... I usually use this book with students in K-2 but I have also used Clark the Shark with older students. My older students have had a lot of fun creating comic strips about Clark.

Here are some links to some supplemental materials:   Clark the Shark Activity Pack and  Activity Pack.

I also found two lessons at Teachers Pay Teachers.  One is free and the other is a few dollars.  You can see those HERE and HERE.

Discussion Questions:
1.  How does Clark feel about school?
2.  Are Clark's friends having fun playing jump rope at recess?
3.  How do Clark's friends feel about his behavior at the lunch table?  How can you tell?  Why do they feel this way?
4.  Why did the other fish stop playing with Clark?  Why did they stop eating lunch with him?  Why didn't anybody want to sit by Clark at circle time?
5.  What did Mrs. Inkydink tell Clark to do?
6.  Did that suggestion work?
7.  What was Clark's solution to his problem?  Did it work?
8.  What did Clark do to control himself when he felt like bouncing out of his seat?
9.  How did Clark stop himself from eating his friend's lunches?
10.  How did Clark make recess more fun?
11.  Can you make up a rhyme to help you stay in control of a behavior?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pink Tiara Cookies for Three-A lesson on Friendship

If you don't already have Pink Tiara Cookies for Three I would strongly recommend adding it to your resources.  I have used this book many times in the past two years.  I originally ordered this book to be used during a girl's only "Lunch Bunch".  I am currently using it with a group of fourth grade girls who are dealing with some friendship issues.

Maria Dismondy is one of my favorite authors (along with Trudy Ludwig and Julia Cook) and this book might be my favorite of hers.  The story is about two best friends who's friendship is challenged when a new girl moves in.   This book teaches that children can have many friends and also touches on the topic of exclusion.

Discussion Questions:
1.  What is a friendship triangle?
2.  How does Sami feel when Jasmine moved in?
3.  Sami threatens that Stella can't be her best friend anymore if Stella keeps playing with Jasmine.  Is this fair?  Why or why not?  Have you ever had a friend say this to you?  How would you respond?
4.  How did Jasmine feel after Sami ignored her invitation to make cookies?
5.  Was it Jasmine's fault that Sami played alone at recess?  Was Sami being left out on purpose?
6.  How did Sami react to being paired up with Jasmine in Science?  Do you think that Jasmine was hurt by her reaction?  Have you ever witnessed this happen in your own class?
7.  What does Empathy mean?
8.  Sami remembers how it felt to play alone and recess.  What does Sami do to show empathy?
9.  What lesson did Sami learn?
10.  How can you apply this lesson to your own friendships?

You can find the  Reader's Guide and Lessons on Maria's website.  I would definitely recommend using it with the book.

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