Monthly Archives: August 2012

Kindergarten Listening Skills Lesson

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After finishing my rotation of the “Meet Your School Counselor” lessons, I thought that listening skills would make a great topic for my second classroom guidance lesson. We all know that elementary school students struggle BIG TIME with being good listeners – they often interrupt each other and the teacher, and expect attention to be on them 24/7. My friend Sally and I brainstormed to create this lesson together based on this GREAT poster that we found on pinterest.

Based on this poster, I created 8 listening “puppets” that help students remember the 8 ways that they can use their whole bodies to be good listeners.

At the beginning of the lesson, I introduce the “Whole Body Listening” poster to students. I call the boy on the poster “Listening Larry.” As a class, we go through and discuss each of the 8 listening “puppets.” I hold up each “puppet” individually and ask students to explain 1) What it is and 2) How it helps us be a good listener. As we go through all 8, we continuously review the past “puppets” to keep them fresh in students’ memories. I also like using gestures (I’m a huge fan of TPR!) to help students remember the ways to be a good listener. For example, for the “brain” I have students point to their brains and say, “Think about what the person is saying.” For the “eye,” I have students point to their eyes and say, “Look at the person who is talking.”

After reviewing each of the 8 tips on the “Whole Body Listening” poster, we make “Listening Ears” hats as a class. Sally and I found this idea on pinterest as well. Here are the supplies needed to make “Listening Ears”…

  • My Listening Ears¬†worksheet (created by Sally)
  • 1 piece of construction paper per student
  • Stapler
  • Markers
  • 1 glue stick per student

Before the lesson begins, I cut construction paper strips that make the band part of the “Listening Ears” hat. I cut the construction paper in half and stapled two pieces together. They turned out like this…

I also pre-cut each of the listening ears for my K students. The teachers told me that their students are working on how to cut straight lines, but that they would struggle too much with curved lines this early in the school year. My pre-cut listening ears look like this…

And here is my sample “Listening Ears…” I like to wear it as we make the ears – as a model and just for laughs! ūüôā

So, to make the “Listening Ears”, I start by giving each student a “MY LISTENING EARS” strip of paper, two pre-cut listening ears, crayons, and a pair of scissors. I ask students to cut along the dotted lines and when they finish cutting, to hold up their strip of paper. Some K students needed help cutting out their strips, but others were able to do it independently. After students have cut out their “MY LISTENING EARS” strips, I model for them how to glue it onto the center of their construction paper band.

Since it is so early in the school year, the teacher and myself worked together to glue the listening ears on for the students. As we came around and glued on their ears, the students decorated their hats with crayons. After all of the ears were glued on, the teacher and I came around and stapled the construction paper bands together so that the students could wear their “Listening Ear” hats.

Students absolutely LOVED their hats and teachers thought they were the funniest and cutest thing. It has been hilarious to see little Kindergartners ¬†walking around school and getting into their cars at dismissal wearing their hats! The exceptional education teacher stopped by my office to tell me that this activity was a “huge hit” and that she saw students still wearing their hats days later!

I highly recommend this activity to any counselor, but keep in mind that it does require a lot of supervision and individualized help to the students. Having a teacher present in the classroom is crucial – I was SO thankful to have such helpful and supportive teachers for this lesson! Also, this lesson took longer than the scheduled time – I had 30 minutes to work with K, but it took us about 45¬†minutes¬†to finish. Again, the teachers were so flexible and loved the activity so much, that they didn’t mind it lasting longer than the scheduled time!

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Group Counseling Behavior Strategy

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I LOVED this idea from the Elementary School Counseling Blog¬†to use with my 1st grade boys social skills group. I created a good cup and a bad cup. The good cup has a picture of a happy puppy on it and the sad cup has a picture of a sad puppy on it. The cups look like this…

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When students show good behavior in group (i.e. taking turns, giving each other compliments, being respectful), I put a chip inside of the good cup. When students show bad behavior in group (talking out, acting out, teasing), I put a chip inside of the bad cup. At the end of group, I dump out both cups and we count the chips together. For every good chip, we get 1 M &M. For every bad chip, we take away one of those M & Ms. So, if the group had 3 chips in the good cup and 1 chip in the bad cup, they’ll each get 2 M & Ms.

I tried this today in our first group session and it worked SO well. The boys were even telling ME when to put a chip into the good and bad cup, and were motivating each other to be good so that they could earn more M & Ms. I will definitely use this strategy for each of our 7 group sessions!

Anger Management Worksheet

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I receive A LOT of referrals for anger management every year – especially with 3rd and 4th grade boys. I really like the ideas found on this website and thought that they did a great job of explaining WHY so many children are angry, and what is lying behind their anger. It is CBT-based and also offers coping strategies and tips to make their thinking patterns more productive and positive.

I used that website as a guide and created this 5 Anger Distortions Worksheet¬†for use with 3rd and 4th grade students. It breaks down each of the five (I combined global labels and overgeneralization) anger distortions into a picture and a simple description. It then provides space for students to share “An example of a time that I used this distortion is…” and “What I can do differently next time is…” This worksheet could lead to a great discussion of the distortions that students use the most often, why they lead to anger, and how we can change our mood by changing our thinking.

Changes to the First Aid Kit Activity!

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Although the School Counselor’s First Aid kit is adorable and creative, unfortunately, my 1st and 2nd grade students were not able to comprehend it as well as I would have liked. They couldn’t grasp the fact that the objects had a concrete, typical use, (i.e. a band-aid helps you when you’re bleeding) but also had a more abstract use relating to a counselor (i.e. counselors are like band-aids because they help you when you’re hurt). The whole concept was too abstract for my students and left them saying things like, “School counselors help you when you have a scratch or you fall down on the playground.” Keep in mind that my students come from high poverty backgrounds and are almost all English learners. So, I decided to scratch the first aid kit idea and change it to simply a “School Counselor’s Kit.” I made the objects inside of it more concrete and simple to understand. Here’s what I included in my kit ¬†and its connection to a school counselor…

  • Tissue:¬†Counselors help you dry your tears when you are feeling sad or overwhelmed. We also remind you that it is okay to cry – letting our feelings out helps us heal!
  • Eraser: Counselors help you fix your mistakes and learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistake twice!
  • Ear: Counselors are great listeners and will always pay close attention to you.
  • SHH!: Counselors always keep your secrets. When you tell us a story or something about your life, we will keep it to ourselves and not share it with anyone else. But, if you are being hurt or someone is in danger, we will have to tell someone so that we can keep you safe!
  • Candy: Seeing the counselor is a treat! We will talk through your feelings and even play some games to help you feel better. You are NOT in trouble if you are asked to see Miss Mac!
  • Heart: Counselors love and care about you. They have big hearts and want the best for you!
  • Life saver: Counselors can help “save” you from scary, overwhelming, or sad feelings. Counselors will help you “stay afloat” throughout the school year by offering you support, guidance, and love!

Here’s a picture of my new and improved kit and the items inside of it…

I also created this worksheet to help the students remember what we just learned and for their parents to become familiar with my role.

Has anyone else struggled with this lesson as well? Hopefully this plan will work much better for my students!

“Meet Your Counselor” Game – Back to School Lesson!

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With my 3rd and 4th graders, I wanted to do a “Meet Your Counselor” activity that would be more mature and developmentally appropriate than the School Counselor’s First Aid Kit¬†activity. I found this game¬†on¬†Savvy School Counselor‘s blog and thought that not only would it be fun for the students, but it also did a really great job of¬†introducing¬†my role and responsibilities to the students.

Materials Needed:

  • Game cards¬†(see below, at least 1 per student)
  • Two bells (or another object that students can use to “buzz in” and answer the question)

  • ¬†Toy basketball hoop and soft ball¬†(I borrowed this from our PE ¬†teacher who had it in his supply closet!)

I started by creating the game cards. I thought of true/false, fill in the blank, and open-ended questions that would help the students become more familiar with my role and the ways that I can help them. Here are the cards that I created…of course you can alter these to fit your school and your specific role!

So, here is how the game works…

I will divide the class into two teams. Then, I will ask one representative from each team to come to the front of the room, and one student will ¬†choose a game card from the pile. I will display the card on the Elmo projector and read it aloud to the students. Once I finish reading the question, the two representatives will try to be the first to “buzz in”/ring their bell to answer the question. If the student doesn’t know the answer, he/she can ask his/her teammates for help. Students who answer the question correctly will earn 1 point for their team. After students answer the question, I will explain the answer and add any additional detail that would be important for them to know.¬†¬†Then, both students will have a chance to score a bonus point for their team by shooting a basket into the basketball hoop that I have set up (this is just a way to keep the game more fun and exciting!). We will keep playing until we run out of cards and each student has had the chance to answer at least one question.

If you have any ideas for game cards to use or ways to improve this game, please let me know! As always, I’d love to hear your feedback! ūüôā