March 26, 2017

Girl's Group (Interactive Book)

At least three times a week I get complaints about the dreaded girl drama. It never fails. Girls these days are mean to each other. Sometimes it’s on purpose, sometimes it is on accident. Whether it be unintentional or malicious, in every grade level grades 2-5, there are multiple students guilty of this girl on girl drama.

It may sound silly. You may be thinking, “They’re so young! Just tell them to get over it.” While it may be true that some of the drama and reasons for the fighting are absolutely ridiculous, right now that’s their whole world and their main focus. These girl drama problems mean a lot to them in the moment and can leave lasting damage. It can also take away from their learning and cause classroom wide issues.

I decided that I had enough of the inflow of young girls running to my office in tears because someone was being a fake friend to them, or a “frenemy” as they called it. I decided that maybe I could help them realize how painful their actions were to the people they call their friends.

I started different variations of Girl’s Groups throughout second-fifth grades (I tried it with first but it was a little over their heads). The length of the group depended on the needs of the group and severity of their issues/drama. There are ten possible sessions, I mixed and match and skipped sessions as needed to create different versions of this interactive Friendship Book to fit each groups unique needs. Below is an outline of a group I did utilizing the full ten sessions, creating the full Friendship Book:

Session #1: Group Intro

Session #2: What is a Friend or Frenemy?

Session #3: Quality Sorts

Session #4: Situation Sorts

Session #5: Questionable Friendships

Session #6: Healthy Friendships

Session #7: How to Deal

Session #8: Role-playing Friendships

Session #9: Letter Writing

Session #10: Self Reflection

In the end the girls have a clear understanding of behaviors of a good friend, how to avoid being a frenemy, how to handle a frenemy and how to respectfully break up with a friend who isn’t the best for you.

I’ve seen a major decrease in drama in the groups that I’ve had create this book.

You can download your own copy HERE.

March 8, 2017

Worry Flipbook

Students are filled with worry and stress this time of year due to end of the school year demands and test success pressure. Now more than ever they need help with anxiety and worry. Students have been showing up in my office left and right with complaints about worry. It is nice to have a quick to make activity on hand to help them work through their worry and get back to learning.

This flipbook is perfect for just that. All together it takes about a minute to make. I double side print it on colorful paper (make sure to set your printer to flip on the SHORT side or else it won’t print correctly), line up the pages, fold the pages over and staple them together. 

Just like that, your flipbook is ready for use.

It came in handy this week when a little girl and her male best friend came to my office. She was in tears about have to take the FSA (state test in Florida). He was trying hard to make her feel better, but he himself was pretty nervous about the test too. 
I immediately thought of this book.

As we worked through it together, they realized they were also pretty worried about their friendships. They both didn’t really know how to talk to others and make new friends. It broke my heart when I saw them draw these. 

They explained that they didn’t know how to talk to other people. They said they like each other but wanted new friends but didn’t know how to make them. This was great information for me to find out because I now knew that if they learned some social skills surrounding friendship some of their extra anxiety would dissipate. I planned to meet with them the next week to help tackle that issue.

For today, we just tackled their FSA worries since that was the reason they came in and was the most pressing issue at the time. This flipbook had them explore what exactly worry means, identify their worry, recognize and explain how worry makes them feel, ways to take control of their worry, ways to manage worry and what strategies to control their worry may work best for them. 

They seemed to feel much better when we were done working through it together. She decided she was going to utilize the “write it out” strategy when she was worried. She said she was going to write down her problems and let them be the paper’s problem. He really liked the visualization technique and was going to picture himself on a beach with his family acing the test.

It really makes me happy when I can help little ones cope with their big emotions.

You can download this activity by clicking HERE.

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March 6, 2017

Turtle Flipping

“I am here today to talk to you about what it means to be helpful. Who can tell me what being helpful means?”

“It’s when you help someone!”
“Doing things that are nice to help people!”
“When someone falls you help them up!”

It’s interesting how hard it is for kids to put the definition of helpful into words.

“I’m going to show you a video and we’re going to see if the creatures in the video decide to be helpful or not.”

I then put on this video.  I do not own this video nor do I know who created it. It’s just super cute, hooks their attention and makes my point really well. I mute the volume and let it play.

While the video is playing, I start the meat of the lesson by saying, “This turtle over here is flipped over on his back (point to the upside turtle). Who has ever seen or knows what happens when a turtle is flipped over?”

Eventually we get to the answer that they cannot flip themselves back over and have to wait until someone comes along and decides to help them get back on their feet.

“That’s right, he’s upside down and helpless. He needs someone to come help him get back on his feet, he can’t do it by himself. How do you think that turtle feels?”

I get a wide array of answers such as scared, sad, mad, frustrated, upset, hopeless, etc.

“He’s probably pretty sad, wishing he hadn’t gotten himself into this situation hoping someone is nice enough to come help him get back on his feet. If we saw a turtle flipped over, it would be super easy for us to flip him back. We would use our hands and just pick him up. Turtles don’t have hands. The only tool they have is their head. Imagine if I fell on the floor right now and the only way you could help me get up is by using your head. How easy would that be?”

They usually get wide eyed and whisper about how they would break their necks if they tried that. I have to add that I am eight months, beyond super pregnant right now, so it is even funnier to see their reactions to this question since I have so much extra weight to throw around.

“It would be really hard right?! That’s exactly how hard it is for this guy to help him. How easy would it be for him to give up and walk away?”

“Super easy!”

“It would be! Look at him, he already needs a break!”

Usually we’re around minute two in the video and at this point the turtle really is taking a break.

“He needs a drink and a snack and probably wants to go hang out with his other turtle friends who didn’t get themselves into this situation! Let’s see what he does.”

I skip through the video by 30ish second intervals making a big deal about how hard he is still trying. When we get to minute four, I take a vote to see who thinks he’s going to be able to do it and who thinks he’s going to give up.
They watch in anticipation and every class I’ve had starts to cheer the little turtle on. One class even chanted, “You can flip him! You can flip him!” and clapped loudly and applauded when the turtle landed on his feet.

“Yayy! He did it! His turtle friend is now on his feet and ready to go. How do you think he feels now?”

I get a mix of happy, excited, calmer, etc.

“What I want you to remember about this video is that it was difficult for this turtle to accomplish this. He had to work really hard, but in the end it was totally worth it because he might have saved the other turtle’s life. It may not always be easy to help someone else, but it is almost always worth it.”

I then move into my situation card game.
“I have some cards here that have situations on them that challenge you to help out, to be turtle flippers, just like the turtle in our video. Let’s do a few together.”

I read three or four situations and let them answer in a class discussion format. We then give every student a card and have them utilize the stand up, hands up, pair up Kagan Strategy to partner up and discuss their cards.  

They each stand up, put their hands up in the air, find a partner and put their hands down. Students who still need a partner look for someone with their hands still up. Once they are all partnered up, they read their card to their partner and their partner answers. The other partner then reads their card and waits for an answer. After a few minutes, I say, “switch cards, hands up, pair up”. The students switch cards and are off to find a new partner.
When ready, I collect all the cards and have all the kids go back to their seats.

We then start on our activity sheet. I put the sheet up on the overhead and have a student read the sheet and then we talk about what they are supposed to do with the activity sheet.
After they understand that I want them to draw a picture and write a sentence about how they can be helpful, I pass out the sheets and let them get to work.

It is so fun to see where their minds go!

When finished, I let them keep the worksheets as a fun memory of our time together. Some teachers have decided to collect the sheets and put them in the student’s leadership notebook. I love that I am doing a lesson the teachers feel is worthy to include in such an important notebook.

Download your own copy of the “Will You Help Flip the Turtle?” cards HERE.

Download your own copy of the “I Can Be Helpful” activity sheet HERE.

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March 4, 2017

I Am Special Because...

Kids are extremely honest. Sometimes way too honest. They can easily hurt each other’s feelings and not even realize it. At times they say things that can have a lasting impact and damage someone’s self-esteem. Kids are also extremely resilient; sometimes a quick confidence boost is all they need to completely change their day.

Here is how I did that for a few girls that were feeling particularly down about themselves.

I took a piece of paper and drew a tree map on it. I wrote my name at the top and underneath I wrote the sentence, “I am special because” I labeled the three parts of the tree map “I can, I like, I’m good at.” I drew three blanks under each category and used this as a model for them to copy.
I grabbed the girls, we chatted for a bit and then I gave them each a blank piece of paper. I put my model in front of them and they created their own copy.
It was so fun watching these three friends pump themselves and each other up and talk about how awesome they all are.  I loved hearing them say things like, “You’re really great at singing!” and “You’re always super helpful!” or “Remember when we played on the trampoline? You’re so good at jumping!”
We only spent about fifteen minutes together, I cannot believe how much their confidence soared in that time frame.

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March 1, 2017

March Counseling Plan

March Counseling Plan
Monthly Goal: Teach all students how to be have the courage to do their best and face their fears. The character word of the month is courage, which is appropriate since most students will take state tests next month. Also I will continue to create and close out small groups while being available to students for one-on-one support as needed. 

Guidance Classes:
Kindergarten, First and Second Grade: 
I am Special Because...
Friendship Chain

Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade:
Small Groups:
Mission:Test Taking Success
Check it out on my blog

Managing Worry Flipbook
Calm Down Anger Control Flipbook

School Wide:

Friendship With Yeti

Use “Friendship with Yeti” to help your students make new friends!

In this world of video games, tv taking over and internet consuming us, all too often I have students come to me because they have no "real" friends. They can give me the screen names of their online friends, yet have no friends in class. After a brief chat, it is clear to me that they do not know how to communicate in real life with other kids. They haven't yet learned the social skills that allow them to make friends. They could potentially be the best friend someone could ask for, but no one will ever know because they do not know how to set the stage for friendship. This resource attempts to change that by teaching children how to make friends by following the moves to the "sifting dance".

I first show them the posters to help explain each step of the “sifting dance”.

S- Say Hi
I- Introduce yourself

F- Find out what they are like

T- Talk about something fun
I- Invite them to do something with you
N- Name something fun you can do together in the future
G- say Goodbye

I like how it breaks apart each step into understandable pieces that can be displayed students to utilize. You can also put them on a ring and create a book out of the posters for easy storage!

If I have a lot of time, I then move on to the twelve conversation starter cards.

These cards include common scenarios that could lead to friendship such as a new student in class or a game being played at recess the student may want to join, as well as thought provoking questions such as "what do you do to make friends?"

It helps me to understand their thinking patterns and opens up some great conversation. It also allows them to think about how they would approach each situation and role play what they may say. 

Once students are more comfortable, we work through the “How to Make a Friend” workbook (if I don’t have a lot of time, I go straight into the workbook activity and skip the conversation starter cards).

This workbook allows students to dive deeper into each step of SIFTING by breaking apart each step into easy to manage components. It helps them create a plan and learn the steps to making a friend! In the end, students will fully understand how they can approach someone to start a potential friendship.

Before they leave, I give them each a Takeaway Card they can use as memory joggers to refer to long after they leave my office.

After utilizing these activities, my kids have a much clearer understanding of how to make a friend and more confidence to put the skills into practice.

Download your own copy HERE.