Tag Archives: Guidance

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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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!

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! 🙂

Who is Your School Counselor? Back to School Lesson!

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My supervisor at my elementary school internship used this activity at the beginning of the school year to introduce herself and her role to the students, and she even used it in interviews to show the principal what she could bring to their school! I wanted to use this activity this year, but couldn’t for the life of me remember all of the things that she put inside of the first aid kit. I googled and pinterested and could not find the activity anywhere…until the next day, when I decided to search again, and Savvy School Counselor had posted it 2 hours earlier! Many thanks to her and her ever-creative blog for brushing up my memory on this great activity!

My first aid kit looks very similar to Savvy School Counselor’s and the pieces that I included inside of it are almost identical to her’s. I used a pencil box that I got for .99 cents at Target and taped the label onto it that says “School Counselor’s First Aid Kit.”

Inside of the kit I included the following items… (most of which were already at my school, I just had to find them and put them together!)

  • Tissue: Counselors help you dry your tears when you are feeling sad or overwhelmed. Counselors  remind you that it is okay to cry – letting out our feelings is healthy and helps us heal!
  • Toothpick: Counselors help you “pick out” your problems and make sense of them.
  • Milky Way: Seeing the counselor is always a “treat” – it never means that you are in trouble! Also, just like a treat, counselors can help you feel better when you are sad or upset.
  • Star: Explorers from long ago used the “North Star” as a guide to help them stay on track and  find their way when they were lost. Like the North Star, the counselor can help you if you are feeling lost, confused, or unsure about how to solve a problem.
  • Penny: Pennies have value and are often considered lucky – “Find a penny, pick it up…all day long you’ll have good luck!” The penny reminds us that each and every one of us is valuable, special, and lucky to be who we are!
  • Band-Aid/Bandage: Counselors can help heal your wounds (the invisible ones that are deep inside of us) and make you feel better.
  • Eraser: Everyone makes mistakes and the counselor can help us deal with our feelings when we make mistakes. She can also help us learn how to not make the same mistake again in the future!
  • Life Saver: Counselors are there to talk to you and help “save” you from scary, sad, or stressful situations. Counselors will help you “stay afloat” throughout the school year by giving you support, guidance, and love!
  • Cotton Ball: Counselors are full of warm fuzzies and compliments! Seek us out when you are feeling blue, and we’ll help cheer you up!

Also, I can’t find mine at the moment, but including headphones would be a great idea to remind students that counselors are great listeners.

I included these index cards “cheat sheets” in the inside of the box to help me remember the purpose of each item (just in case I forget!)

I plan on using this kit with K – 2nd graders as a way to introduce the role of the counselor in a fun, easy to understand, and engaging way. I will begin the lesson by asking students what a first aid kit is usually used for. Then, I will open the kit and choose one item at a time. I will pass the item around the room and let students feel it. I will ask students, “What is this item and what is it normally used for?” I will then ask students, “How does this item relate to what a school counselor does?” Once students have answered, I will then give them my explanation for each item.  At the end of the activity, I will ask students to summarize what they have learned with the following questions:

  • “What does a school counselor do?”
  • “How can a school counselor help you?”
  • “What is an example of a time when you might want to talk to the school counselor?”

Next, I will explain to students the self-referral process for counseling. If they would like to talk with me, they should tell their teacher. I will then work with their teacher to set up a time to meet with them as soon as I can. I will also tell students that I will be coming to their classroom once a month to talk about all sorts of important topics, such as how to be a good listener, how to stop bullying, and how to be a good student. We will be playing games, reading stories, and doing art projects together.

My K classes are 30 minutes long, so I will end the lesson here. My 1st- 4th grade lessons are 1 hour, so I will continue the lesson by reading the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We all have bad days sometimes, and it is often helpful to talk to someone who can help us get our feelings out and feel better. I thought that Alexander’s description of his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day is a great example of a time in which students may want to seek the counselor’s help, guidance, and support. Counselors can help turn Alexander’s day into a great, excellent, good, and amazing one! 😉

After reading the story, I will generate the following discussion with students:

  • Why was Alexander having such a bad day? What are some of the things that happened to him today?
  • What could Alexander have done to make his day better?
  • How could the school counselor help Alexander?
  • How could Alexander set up a time to meet with his school counselor?

Finally, I’ll close the lesson by saying that I am looking forward to working with each and every student and am so excited to be starting a new school year!

And…onto the next lesson!