Kindergarten Feelings Lesson

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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…

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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:

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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:

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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!

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Social Skills WANTED Posters

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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

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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.

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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! 🙂

Listening Skills Worksheet for 3rd/4th Grade

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I made this worksheet with 3rd and 4th graders to go along with the “Whole Body Listening” poster that you can see in the post below! It can be used in two ways:

  1. As an assessment tool. At the end of the lesson, give students this worksheet and see how many questions they answer correctly. The percentage correct can help the counselor understand how well the students comprehended and retained the material.
  2. As a reinforcement of the material. The counselor can give students 10-15 minutes to complete the worksheet independently  and then can review the answers with the class. This will help students process and retain the material.

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! 🙂

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!

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!