Monthly Archives: October 2012

Self-Esteem Portraits


I LOVED this idea that I found on found on the Art Class Works blog and thought it would be PERFECT for my 4th grade girls self-esteem group. Before group, I drew an outline of a head and neck onto a piece of card stock using a black sharpie.

When the girls arrived, I gave them each a blank portrait and a black marker. I first asked them to write 10 things that they like about themselves or that make them special inside of the head on the portrait. For example, the girls could write “I am beautiful,” “I am smart,” or “I am a great big sister.” Once the girls finished writing their 10 positive affirmations, I asked them to pass around their portraits to the other students. On the outside of the head, each girl wrote one nice thing about the other group members. These portraits were just oozing with positivity, kindness, and love – and the girls were thrilled and beaming when they saw what the other girls had written about them!

At the next group session, I had watercolor paints, paintbrushes, and cups of water ready for the girls. I asked them to paint their portraits however they would like. We talked about how certain colors may symbolize certain qualities – yellow could symbolize happiness, red could symbolize strength, and green could symbolize success. Here is how some of the girls’ portraits turned out…(I have blocked their names out for you!)

The girls REALLY enjoyed this activity and created beautiful, meaningful, and sentimental portraits. These portraits are a wonderful tangible item for the girls to remember their experience in group, and also serve as a reminder of how incredible, unique, and amazing they are! I’d highly recommend this activity with 3rd – 12th graders – it could even work well with adults!


Kindergarten Feelings Lesson


I thought that learning about identifying and expressing feelings would be a helpful lesson for beginning K students. The majority of our students are EL and learning this vocabulary is very important to their success and well-being at school.

First, I created feeling faces cards with the help of my friend Sally. Sally found these GREAT photos of kids’ faces online that describe 5 basic feelings – happiness, sadness, anger, excitement, and fear. I glued the faces onto pieces of construction paper and aligned the color of the paper with the feeling word (blue for sad, red for anger, etc). Here’s how they turned out…


I start the lesson by using these 5 cards with the students. First, we discuss how we have all different feelings and can even have all different feelings in the same day – or even at the same time! I show students each of the cards and ask them to identify how the child is feeling. Then I ask them HOW they knew how the child was feeling – for example, the happy child is smiling, the sad child is crying. EL K students tend to struggle with this question but they caught on more at the end! Next, I ask them WHY the child might be feeling this way – what might have happened to cause him/her to feel like this? The children were VERY creative with their answers – the funniest two that I got were…Me: “Why does she look so mad?” K Boy: “Because a tiger ate her momma all up!” and Me: “Why does he look so sad?” K Boy: “Because he fell on a pile of walnuts!” The kids never cease to amaze me, haha! We also talked a bit about coping strategies – so if we’re feeling sad or angry or scared, what can we do to feel better? Some of the best answers that I got were play outside, talk to a friend, talk to a counselor/teacher/parent, or take some deep breaths.

After we have talked through the 5 feeling words, I introduce the Magic Coloring Book of Feelings by Robert P. Bowman and Kim (Tip) Frank. I tell students that I will be doing a magic trick for them today to help them learn more about feelings and they get SUPER excited. If you don’t already have this book, buy it now! It is a true counseling staple! Here is what the book looks like:


I hate to ruin the magic, but just so you know…the pages of the book change based on where you place your thumb. So if you place your thumb at the top of the book and skim through the pages, the pages are black and white. If you place your thumb in the middle of the book, the pages are colored. If you place your thumb at the bottom of the book, the pages are blank.

I start the “magic trick” by explaining that we all have lots of feelings. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are angry, and sometimes we are sad – just like the kids in the pictures that we just looked at. I then show the students the black and white pictures in the book that look like this:


I ask them to tell me how the people in the pictures are feeling (i.e. the family is feeling happy because they are celebrating a birthday and the boy is feeling scared because a mean dog is chasing him). Then, I ask them what the pictures in this book are missing – colors! I then explain how colors are a lot like feelings – I like to think of red as an “angry” color, yellow as a “happy” color, and blue as a “sad” color. This idea was a little abstract for the students, but having the feeling faces card visuals helped a lot! Next, I ask the students to rub their hands all over the colorful carpet and their clothes and hold the colors in their hands. Then, on the count of 3, the students throw their colors at the story. I jerk the book back when they throw their colors as if they have really thrown something. And TADA! I show the students the colorful pages of the book…

ImageWhen they see that the book has become colored, the students gasp, cheer, clap, and get SO excited! It’s as if they have seen the coolest magic trick of their lives, haha! We then talk more about these pictures and how it is now easier to tell how the people in the pictures are feeling since they are so colorful. Then, I ask the students to stick their arms out and take their colors/feelings back from the book. On the count of 3, the students take them away and I jerk the book forwards. Then I show them the completely blank pages of the book…

Again, the students clap and cheer because they cannot believe that the pictures have vanished! I then ask the students to throw the lines back onto the pages and I show them the lined pages, and later the colors.

Needless to say, the students absolutely LOVE this book and ask me about it for weeks (and months!) later! The older students (3rd and 4th grade) were jealous of the K students and were offended that I didn’t use the book with them, haha! Our assistant principal was so amazed with the book that she could not stop playing with it. The book combined with the feeling faces cards makes for a very memorable (and educational!) lesson that I would highly recommend to any elementary school counselor!

Social Skills WANTED Posters


I got this GREAT idea from one of our 2nd grade teachers who makes these every year with her students and turns them into a cute friendship book. I made these with my 1st grade boys social skills group and they did SO well with it! They really understood the idea of a WANTED poster (looking for bad guys!) but how our WANTED posters are helping us look for a true friend! First, we drew a picture of what our true friend might look like. Their true friend could be a boy or girl of any color, shape, size, ect. Then, we talked about what qualities our true friend would have and wrote them on the bottom half of the paper. We talked about everything from loyalty to silliness to generosity! I’d definitely recommend this activity with any K-4 students – they did a wonderful job with it and had a lot of fun!

1st Grade Behavior Plan


I am working with a female 1st grader who is very defiant and disrespectful of authority. She physically and verbally bullies other children and needs to be the center of attention at all times. After meeting with her teacher and her mother, I developed this behavior plan to use with her.



First, I will meet with her individually and talk through the 3 behavioral expectations on the back of her behavior plan card. We will talk about what each of them mean and talk through examples of how she can show her teacher that she is meeting these expectations. Every Monday morning, her teacher will talk through the expectations with her and ask her to circle 1 reward for the week. If possible, the teacher will review the 3 expectations with the student at the beginning of each school day. At the end of each day, the teacher will assign her either a “smiley face” – (I followed all 3 rules MOST of the time) or a “sad face” – (I did NOT follow all 3 rules most of the time) for the day, Monday – Friday. For Week 1, if she earns 3/5 “smiley faces,” she will earn the reward of her choice. For Week 2, if she earns 4/5 “smiley faces,” she will earn the reward of her choice. And for Week 3 and moving forward, she will have to earn 5/5 “smiley faces” in order to earn her reward. If she has met her “smiley face” goal for the week, she will come to the counselor’s office on Friday afternoon to discuss her behavior and receive her reward. If she has NOT met her “smiley face” goal for the week, she will come to the counselor’s office to discuss her behavior but will NOT receive her reward. Since this child is very attention-seeking, I hope that giving her this extra reward and one-on-one time with the counselor will make a difference in her behavior.

Have you tried any behavior plans like this before? If so, have they been successful? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂