Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Gifts on a Counselor's Budget (approximately $12 per gift)

I am always looking for cute gift ideas for coworkers, neighbors, coaches, teachers, etc...  This year I have decided to do "winter survival kits" in a jar.  These are super easy to make and are easy on the wallet. Each jar can cost as little as $12.00! (Amazon prices change by the minute so these prices may change).  I found the idea at  Head over to her blog to check out some of her other ideas.  This is The Holiday Survival Kit in a Mason Jar that inspired my own jars:
Holiday Survival Kit in a Mason Jar

Start with a Mason Jar: (This set is $21.50 for 12 jars)
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***Amazon prices change quickly

Add packs of hot chocolate ($10.77 for a pack of 15)
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or a $10 Starbucks Gift Cards (pack of 4)
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Add the Chapstick (Wine Flavored):  This is the chapstick that I purchased.  I thought they were fun:)  There is a cheaper option below.
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Chapstick (Pack of 24)-I would add two to each jar.
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Finally, wrap a cute scarf around the jar and tie it with some twine or cute ribbon:

Plaid Scarf ($5.52) (multiple colors available)
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Plaid Scarf ($7.80) (multiple prints and colors available)
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A more expensive scarf (I bought this one for a family member): 
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You could also switch the scarf out for pajama pants:
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Ideas and inspiration found at:

Amazon has 30% off of select women's fashion today as well so be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Good Bye Bully Machine, Hello Kindness!

My fifth graders just finished their bullying unit using the book Goodbye Bully Machine! 

Description from Amazon:  Kids learn what bullying is, why it hurts, and what they can do to end it with this fresh, compelling book.  The unique format of Good-Bye Bully Machine helps kids understands the definition and impact of bullying by comparing git to a mean machine-the bully machine.  Kids can see how bullying makes the machine grow more imposing, while kind behaviors dismantle it.  Through the machine, kids gain awareness of their roll in bullying, whether they are targets, bullies, bystanders--or all three.  The role of the bystander is especially important.  Good-Bye Bully Machine helps kids see the power of the bystander to becoming an ally, which means learning how to show empathy, engage in kind acts, and take a stand against bullying.  It's a perfect way to engage reluctant readers and hard to reach kids.    

 This book does a great job at explaining the different types of bullying as well as the feelings that the victims of bullying feel.  We used the free reader's guide and worked on this unit for 8 weeks.  You can download the reader's guide here.   You can purchase the book here.  Here is the breakdown of our lessons:

Lesson 1:  Read Goodbye Bully Machine!
Use the discussion questions on pages 4-9 in the Reader's Guide to lead a group discussion.  We discussed the questions as we went through the book verses saving all of the questions till the end.

Lesson 2:  Make Bully Machine Collages
You can find this activity in pages 12-14 of the Reader's Guide.  Here are some examples:

Lesson 3:  Our Classroom is A Place Where...
You can find this activity on pages 15-17 of the Reader's Guide.  Directions for leading this activity are on page 11.

Lesson 4: Class discussion on the perspectives of the bully, the victim and the bystander.  This group read the Weird Series last year as fourth graders so we referred back to the main characters in Weird, Dare, and Tough. I first did my Good Bye Bully Machine lesson two years ago and really wanted to build on it.  As I was looking for ideas I came across the school counseling by heart blog.  She also used the weird series as party of her Bully Machine unit so I am sharing a link to that as well.   You can find her blog HERE.

Lesson 5:  Class discussion on I messages.  "I-Message" worksheets (found in the Reader's Guide on pages 18-19)

Lesson 6:  Bully Book Review
I divided the class into small groups and assigned each group a book about bullying.  The students were given this worksheet from school counseling by heart's blog to complete.  These are the books that I assigned them:  Mookey the Monkey Gets Over Being Teased, Bully B.E.A.N.S., Tease Monster, Alley Oops, My Secret Bully, Just Kidding, Nobody.  

Lesson 7:  Bully Book Review Continued
I had students return to their groups from the week before and gave them time to finish their book review worksheet.  They also had time to create a poster about their book

Lesson 8:  Students Presented their Bully Book Review Book Reports

Bulletin Board/Hallway Display:  We used the "Our Classroom is a Place Where..." lesson from the activity guide to create our bulletin board.  We cut out the different sayings on pages 15-17 and pasted them to the display.  

You can purchase Goodbye Bully Machine! HERE.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

There Is a Bird On Your Head! (Being Assertive)

I found the perfect book for teaching assertiveness!  I was in our school library and stumbled across the book There Is a Bird On Your Head!  The book is hilarious!  I use Second Step in grades K-2 and one of the skills for learning is Be Assertive so I used this book with my first graders and they loved it.  I also created a worksheet to go along with the book and had each child share their completed worksheet with the class.  If you don't teach Second Step or teach in the classrooms this book is still great for teaching assertiveness in individual or small group sessions.  So many of my referrals list "doesn't ask for help when needed" or "pouts and sulks when work is difficult" as a concern so I do a lot of work on assertiveness.  I would check your school library for this book as a lot of schools seem to have the Elephant & Piggie Books.  If not you can purchase it on Amazon for $6.00.

 I have students draw a picture of themselves with a bird on their head and then write on the lines below:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mindfulness Monday (Breathing Ball)

I arrived at work to find that my most recent Amazon order had arrived!  Four HOBERMAN SPHERES were delivered over the weekend and I am very excited to start using them.  I am going to be using the Hoberman Sphere as a visual for breathing techniques.  

If you are incorporating mindfulness into your school counseling program you already know that breath awareness is essential to focusing on the present. When we pay attention to our breathing, we slow our heart rate and lower our blood pressure.  This allows us to think more clearly and we are able to use the thinking part of our brain (prefrontal cortex) to respond to stressful situations in a calm, thoughtful manner.  

How I use the sphere:  I refer to the sphere as a "breathing ball".  I ask students to breathe in deeply from down in their belly (also known as a belly breath if your students use Second Step) and at the same time, slowly expand the sphere.  Once the lungs are full of air and the sphere is fully expanded instruct students to hold their breath in their belly for a second and then to slowly close the sphere as they slowly close the sphere.  Repeat this 10-15 times.  

I ordered the Original Hoberman Sphere but there are smaller spheres available as well.
You can purchase the original size here:  Original Hoberman Sphere 
You can purchase the smaller sphere here:  Mini Hoberman Sphere
There is also a Mega Sphere that would be amazing to have but was out of my budget:  Mega Sphere

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