I thought I would add a section for school counselors. I will be glad to share any of my classroom counseling ideas with you. You may also post any ideas that you want to share. We can expand our options we can give to our students.
In this activity, I work with the students on problem solving, positive communication and working together. I put the children in groups of about 4. In each group, I give them a christmas tree hand out, a yellow, green, red, and blue crayon. Each student has a crayon and they cannot trade out or use someone's crayon. All colors must be used on the christmas tree. Depending on the class, you may assign the crayon to each person or put the 4 in the middle and let them work out the job assignments. You can give instructions such as 2 items must be yellow, 2 red, 2 blue, and 2 green. Other ideas could include a blank paper, 1 person draws the tree, 1 cuts the tree out, 1 makes the ornaments, 1 glues them to the tree.
This activity is a challenging one, but very rewarding. In this activity I see them actually practicing the process of working with each other and speaking nicely. They have to say at least one compliment to each person on their job in the project.
If I have a small group getting frustrated, I freeze the group or class and process/script what needs to be said or do to trouble shoot the issue.
I wanted to share an idea from a recent school counselor meeting. Many children have a hard time figuring out the appropriate words to use in social situations. This of course takes lots of practice. I like to use a lesson called "Think Bubble/Talk Bubble" I use cartoon boxes and the box that looks like a cloud is a think bubble. The box that is a solid rectangle is the talk bubble. Sometimes the words can be the same in each bubble. However if the words are inappropriate then it is best left in the think bubble.
For example, If you are angry with someone, saying you are so stupid would not be right. Saying I am mad would be acceptable.
Another counselor at the meeting suggested red paper/green paper. Appropriate words would be written on green and inappropriate would be on red. I took that further an thought it would be very helpful to put the think bubble on red paper and the talk bubble on green paper. By doing this, the child could think about the words on the red paper(think bubble) and decide if it is appropriate for the green paper(talk bubble).
Since the students have been studying butterflies and their metamorphosis, I have incorporated a lesson to teach patience. I read a story called "Percival the Plain Little Catepillar". Percival was very sad that he was not as colorful as all of the other insects. Percival had to learn that he had to be patient and wait. Once he turned into a butterfly, he saw that he was all of the colors of the rainbow. I had the children practice their skills at being patient by closing their eyes before they saw the last page. While their eyes were closed, I talked about how hard it was to keep their eyes closed and not peek especially knowing something exciting was coming. I positively commented on how good they were doing at keeping their eyes closed. I was proud of them. Their response to the picture was one of excitement because of the anticipation. Afterwards, each student from each class decorated a portion of a butterfly. The butterfly is hanging in our cafeteria for all to see. It took all students to complete the project.
In this counseling session, I focused on our actions and words. I told the story of The Lion and the Mouse. In this story, the mouse was able to convince the lion that if he let him go then he would promise to help him in the future. The mouse kept the promise and was able to save the lion from being captured. I also discussed the poem Circle of Friendship since it was my first session with the K students. We are all here to help each other. I had the students trace their hands and decorate them. Later, I cut out the hands and connected them in a circle to post in the hallway as a reminder to treat each other friendly. I posted a picture in the photos section. You could also do this activity with the story Hands are not for Hitting.
I have found a fabulous book for my first graders to complete and put together for my January lesson. I get several ideas from the site www.teacherspayteachers.com . Several of the items on the site are free. The title of the book is "Looking Ahead into 2013" . It allows children to contemplate what they will accomplish this year, how much they think they will grow, how many teeth they will lose, what friends they will play with, along with other favorites. At the end the book concludes with a checklist of behaviors they will improve on. What a great keepsake for parents as well.
This is one of my favorite lessons. I create an island in my class for the students. When they are on the island, they can use their imaginations to make the island the most fabulous island ever (gumball trees, animals, slides, etc.) There is one bad thing that visits the island and that is the big bad wolf. He likes to eat small children.
There is one way that the children can remain safe and that is to have power shield. The power shield is created by finding 2 eggs. I do not go into anymore details about the eggs. I don't correct them when they get more. I don't answer their questions about finding more. I don't tell them that I have only hidden enough eggs for everyone to have 2. The goal is for the kids to figure this out.
I always have kids grab more eggs than needed causing others to have 1 or none. When they return to the island spot, the ones with no "power shield" have to get off the island. I praise the ones on the island for being safe and how wonderful they are. They ususally are excited and happy. I then focus on the ones not on the island and ask about feelings. They are usually mad, sad, teary, pouty and disappointed. I let this play out for a little while and tell them all of the stuff they will be missing out on.
There are usually a couple of kids that start to feel uncomfortable about this and I point this out. "Are you ok with some of your friends not getting to be on the island?" "It is too bad that they aren't with us but wouldn't it be great if they could be?" The rest of the ones on the island start considering this. I never give them the answer but allow them time to figure something out.
They start looking at the eggs they have and realize that if they give up some eggs then it could keep their friends safe on the island. They are so proud of being able to figure this out. The ones that originally had two eggs want to be the ones to give their eggs away but they can't . The egg hoarders have a harder time. They eventually understand that they have to give them up to save everybody. I make sure to tell the ones with two eggs already figured this out because they only got what they needed and not what they wanted. They left eggs for others to find.
I am able to acknowledge the goodness that comes from everyone. Of course I tie this in to being a bucket filler and how much better we all feel when we help others.
His feelings are hurt. He feels left out. His heart has broken by the words they have spoken. The kids see he is sad. They said they were sorry and felt really bad. Hooper felt better and at the party he played games. His heart was on the mend but not quite the same. Pay attention to what you say and always be kind. Let your words not hurt but help people shine!!!
Poem by Stacey D. Guthrie-Aldinger
After reading this story, each child decorated a heart. We looked back through the book to see how the words hurt Hooper Humperdink. When we found a place showing harmful words, the children would tear a piece of the heart. By the end, the hearts were in pieces. They worked hard to put them back together like new. We were successful in finding all of the pieces and putting them in the right places. We did see at the end that even though the hearts are back together, they aren't the same. When we say unkind words, we can say I'm sorry but we can never take back hurtful things we have done. It is always best to be kind all of the time.
The children took home their taped up hearts as a reminder to always be kind.
This is one of my favorite lessons. I read to the students a book on penguins and we talk about how they have to work together to survive. Penguins depend on each other and everyone has an equally important job. When everyone participates, everyone benefits. The lesson is to think of the needs of everyone and not just yourself.
After talking about this, I have the class participate in an experiment. I turn the air conditioner on as cold as possible. The children start complaining that it is freezing. I ask them if they want to get warm. I have the children pretend to be penguins and form a tight huddle. There is a huge temperature difference in the huddle with everyone and sitting alone on the carpet. The children actually experience the purpose of working together.
Finally the students complete an art project to take home as a reminder of how penguins work together. I close with having them tell me how they can work together in their class and at home. I like to send the children home with an expressive art piece to keep them mindful of their interactions with others.