Kindergarten: Feelings and Responsibility

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One thing I really look forward to each year in my school counseling program is my very first visit with my new Kindergarten friends.  After seeing grades 1-5 over the last three weeks, it’s finally time to share my first lesson with Kindergarten.  I usually schedule them last intentionally.  I do this as to not disrupt the teachers’ firsts days with them.  They have so many new things to learn including classroom procedures.  Usually by the time I visit, they are ready to sit on the carpet crisscross applesauce with hands in their fish bowls and listening ears.

I had the opportunity to assist with the Kindergarten assessments, so I worked with most of them one-to-one during their staggered entry days.  So, many of them are already waving and saying hello when they see me.

I have thirty minutes to complete this lesson. The first part of my lesson includes my “A Counselor is…” cards I wrote about in a previous post.  These cards are great for explaining what a school counselor does.  As mentioned in my other post, the students learn that a counselor is a friend, a helper, a listener, a problem solver, and a secret keeper.  I make sure to stress that I can keep any secret as long is no one is being hurt.

Next, I introduce my Jellybean Friend Eugene, the emotional blue jellybean from Jellybean Jamboree.  This leads us to a discussion about feelings.  You can read more about Eugene and the other jellybeans here.  I read The Feelings Book by Todd Parr to Eugene and the class.  It is a great book which showcases many different feelings including some silly ones like “Sometimes I feel like eating pizza for breakfast” or “Sometimes I feel like kissing a sea lion.”  This year, I also have Todd Parr’s “Feeling Flashcards” which I am so excited about using.  For the purpose of this lesson, I will share the flashcards for happy, sad, angry, and scared as I discuss the different feelings Eugene has experienced.  I’ve decided to use the majority of the cards during Lunch Bunch and other small groups.  I will also use some cards here and there throughout the school year during future lessons.

Finally, I talk about all of the BIG words they’ll be learning about throughout the school year called character traits.  I share the first trait, responsibility, which is on their very first scoop of ice cream.  I mentioned my ice cream cone and scoops incentive  in the post They All Scream for Ice Cream.  I make a big deal about how big the word is, and we count the 14 letters.  (Then I make a big deal about how they can count to 14!)  I explain what it means to be responsible by sharing the book You Can Count On Me.  This is one of the character songs I sing with my kindergarten friends throughout the school year.  The words in the book are the words to the song.  After sharing it and having them repeat the chorus, we sing along with the CD and give ourselves a “round of applause” by clapping around in a circle.  If time allows, we will usually sing it two times.

To close, I review all the things we talked about during our lesson and add their very first ice cream scoop to their cone.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What special activities do you use with your Kindergarten students during your first visit?

Setting Up the Office: B-Boards and Displays

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It’s amazing how we, as educators, can work in our rooms all day long and feel like we’ve barely accomplished anything by the end of the day!  I’ve been so excited to start seeing my school counseling Pinterest inspirations come to fruition.

Today, I finished the small bulletin board outside my office, the bulletin board behind my desk inside my office, and one of my doors-for the most part! I also put my character trait sayings back up.  I’ve been so excited to be back in my guidance office this year with sufficient space for all I need to do.  I had no bulletin boards last year, so even though boxes and such are still all over the floor- I spent most of the day laminating, cutting, and putting together my boards!

First is my board inspired by Danielle from School Counselor Blog.  I couldn’t wait to do this board.  I purchased the puzzle pieces from a teacher supply store. (Trend- Classic Accents)  I traced and cut out the letters by hand.  I even punched holes to add the polka dots on them.  I found the border at Target in the $1 section.

Also inspired by Danielle is my “What you say in here stays in here” poster I ordered from Vista Print.

Next is my bucket filler board.  I first saw these buckets on a bulletin board here on Pinterest.  Here is my adaptation.  I purchased the buckets at the teacher supply store. (CTP- Designer Cut-Outs)  I decided to put the title “How will you fill a bucket?”  On each bucket, I added different ways to fill someones bucket such as saying kind words, smiling, and giving compliments. I have several extra buckets to add more ideas in the future. The smaller side of the board is for the monthly calendar, my lunch bunch schedule, and other schedules I’ll need to see at-a-glance.

I’ve always had this on my door to show where I am.  I came across this pin on Pinterest and decided to try something new.  This is the door on the main hallway.  I have another door that enters into the student services suite area.  I’ll be putting my buddy Garfield back on that door.


Finally, I have my character trait sayings.  I’ve had these for eight years.  I have no idea who created them, but I took them from a paper I received at a school counselor meeting and created this display.  I purchased to kids from a teacher supply store.  I’ll probably create a caption to go with it at some point.

I still have A LOT to finish in my office.  We have several meetings and open house this week, so I am hoping I can have some final pictures by Friday.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Is there something special you’ve done in your office this year that you’re excited about?

More Character Breakfast Club

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I want to share examples of the flyer, invitation, and exit tickets I will be using for my Character Breakfast Club.  I can’t wait to hold my first one in the fall.  I’ll be sure to update everyone on how things turn out along with any lessons learned.

I made a sample flyer using the Bullying topic I talked about in my first Character Breakfast Club Post.  I will change my flyer each time to tell specifically about the topic of each breakfast club.  If you would like a copy of this form in Publisher in order to make it your own, just email me through my contact page and I will send one to you. ( I can only post PDF documents.)

I ordered my Character Breakfast Club invitations from Vista Print.  I’m looking forward to receiving them soon.  Here are images of the front and back of the invitation.  They are pretty basic as any extra information will have already been included on the flyer sent home with students. If you don’t have time to write each invitation, you can always create labels with the information and attach them to the back of the cards.







I also created a very simple exit ticket.  In order to determine how things are going, you’ll want to know if your guests enjoyed the breakfast club, what activity they liked best, and if they would attend another one.  There is also an area at the bottom for comments or suggestions.  Have these available about ten minutes before the conclusion of the event.  You can also have special stickers on hand for the students as they return them.  I’m thinking about making some that say “Ask me about the Character Breakfast Club!” or “I went to the Character Breakfast Club today!”

I am super excited about including the Character Breakfast Club in my school counseling program.  I am tossing around ideas in regard to how I will invite families.  I am thinking about focusing on one or two classrooms to start in order to gauge the response.  If the response is good, I will offer more than one session in order to accommodate families.  My goal is to host one breakfast club for each grade level this year.  However, response will dictate how things go.  I’ll keep you informed!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates! As always, I’d love to hear from you!  Did I miss anything?  Do you have any suggestions for the flyer and/or the exit ticket?

Character Breakfast Club

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Before I was a school counselor, I taught second grade for thirteen years.  One thing I found very successful for parent involvement was hosting a Reader’s Breakfast Club.  These breakfasts were held once each grading period.  Parents were invited to bring breakfast from home or their favorite take-out restaurant and come to my classroom.  During their stay, they would eat breakfast with their children and read together.  The students really enjoyed it, and we always had a great turn out.

As a school counselor, you can host a similar event called the Character Breakfast Club.  This club offers another way to infuse character education into your school counseling program.  How often you hold your breakfast club will depend on your individual school, but once per grading period is a great starting point.  You can eventually hold it once per month if your schedule allows.  Character Breakfast Club can be held before school and does not interfere with the school day.

Decide on the number of families you can accommodate, and make that number clear on your flyer. The number will be determined by your breakfast club location and supplies available. Once you receive the allotted number of R.S.V.P.’s, you can send the official invitation.  You can make your Character Breakfast Club grade level specific, or you can supply a range of activities in order to leave it open to all.  You can also group your clubs K-1, 2-3, and 4-5.  The school where I work tends to have a higher parental involvement in the lower grades, so combining K-1 is difficult.  Once you get a feel for the demand at your school, you can better assess how to schedule each breakfast.

Character Breakfast Club Activities

You will need to schedule 45-60 minutes for your Character Breakfast Club.  This will allow time for families to eat their breakfast for the first 15-20 minutes and leave another 30-40 minutes for the character activities.  These activities may include BINGO games, crafts, and small group activities centered around the topic.  For example:  One topic I will address is Bullying.  I have the Bully-Buster Bingo game from Mar*co which shares several strategies children can use when dealing with a bully.  I also have the activity guide for Bullies are a Pain in the Brain.  This guide has a great true/false type activity about the characteristics of a bully that families can complete together.  Students can also make special buttons pledging to take a stand against bullying.  You can have crayons and stickers available for them to decorate their button inserts.  This will give them something to take with them to remember all they did at the Character Breakfast Club.

Mar*co Products has a lot of BINGO games to choose from including Character Education BINGO, Managing Anger BINGO, and Manners BINGO just to name a few.  They also sell Responsibility and Respect Bingo which I have and love to use.  These are additional topics you can use for your breakfast clubs.  It’s not difficult to find a couple of fun character education activities to keep your participants busy and enjoying some great family time.   Additionally, you’ll have excited kids ready to start their school day on a positive note!

One last thing:  Don’t forget to have an exit ticket at the end of each breakfast club.  It should be simple and easy to complete.  This will help you determine what is going well along with what you can do to improve the effectiveness of your event.

Stick around!  I’ll share more about the Character Breakfast Club in a future post.  I will include a sample flyer, invitation, and exit ticket.

You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!  Is the Character Breakfast Club something you might consider?

How School Counselors Can Build Student Vocabulary

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Did you know building academic vocabulary increases student achievement?  Of course you did!  School counselors play a key role in vocabulary development.  We discuss vocabulary all the time in our classroom guidance lessons, but how can we take it a step further?

Several years ago, I received this great deck of cards already prepared for my use. The deck of cards contains a variety of character descriptions in addition to words that describe feelings.  The words on my cards are geared more toward upper elementary grades.  They are definitely appropriate for middle school students as well.  Of course the activities in this post can be adapted for lower grades also by using words suitable for younger students.  Using these cards is a great way to build vocabulary which can be very helpful for students when end-of-grade testing time rolls around.

To make them, you’ll need a pack of one hundred 3 x 5 index cards in multiple colors. On each card, you will write words that describe a person’s character or how a person might feel.

Click here to view and print a list of words to use.

How You Can Use Your Deck of Cards

  • Categorizing– This activity can help you check for prior knowledge of the vocabulary at the beginning of the school year.  Number twenty of the cards on the back anywhere from 1-20. (These words are in bold on the PDF document.)  First, place those twenty cards on different desks and/or tables throughout the room.  Next, divide the remaining cards in the deck among small groups of 2-4 students  until they are all given away. Then, each group will decide which desk or table each of their words best fit.  For example-  Your group goes to the first table or desk and you see the word “unfriendly.”  Your group has the following words: lazy, thankful, clever, harsh, scared, silly, impolite, and active.  Your groups decides that an unfriendly person can be “harsh” or “impolite.”  Your group leaves those two cards on that desk and move on the the next desk and vocabulary word.  After the students have categorized their cards, you can use a couple of the vocabulary sets for discussion.  During this time, you will get an idea of which vocabulary words the students really need to learn more about.  This will help you with the next activity.
  • Vocabulary Building–  Use the cards to help build student vocabulary during your guidance lessons.  Each time you visit a class for guidance, bring 2-3 word cards to share and discuss with your students.  Even as school counselors, we can assist teachers with increasing the vocabulary knowledge of students   As a former classroom teacher and as a parent, I’ve learned that many times not understanding the vocabulary causes a student to choose an incorrect answer.  These words often describe the main character’s feelings or traits they have displayed throughout the passage.  Therefore, adding a few vocabulary words to your guidance lessons can’t hurt, right?  In order to build vocabulary, we have to infuse it in all subject areas.  That includes guidance!
  • Role Playing–  This would be great to do near the end of the school year after you’ve infused these vocabulary words into your guidance lessons.  Divide students into groups of three or four.  Give each student a card.  Have the group create a short skit where each student acts out the trait or feeling on the card during the performance.  The remaining students will try to guess which trait or feeling words the group used.  In this case, it would be great to have a word bank for students to refer to.  

Use activities such as these to really play an active part in the vocabulary enrichment of the students at your school.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates. I would really love to hear some other ideas on how to use this deck of character cards as well as additional words you would include.  Tell me what you think!  Leave a comment below.

A Very Respectful Foldable

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I have continued to spend time thinking about how to use foldables in my school counseling program.  I teach students about a different character trait each month during classroom guidance at my school.  My latest idea is this four flapped foldable where students can list or illustrate the different ways they show respect.

Whenever I discuss the character trait respect with my students, I always make sure they understand that it can be shown in many different ways.  Many times, the focus is on how to show respect to others by saying that respect is “treating others the way you want them to treat you.”  To extend this, we discuss how to show respect at school and at home.  We also include showing respect to the Earth.  So when I came across this foldable style, I thought it would work well to teach respect.  It can be adapted to fit the needs of lower or upper elementary students.

First, I folded the paper the long way leaving a small section for writing on the side.





Next, I folded the paper in half.





Afterwards, you can fold it in half again to make the four sections.  Because I used card stock for my sample foldable, I folded each side to the center.





Once it is opened, you can cut across the folds on the shorter side to make the four flaps.





Across the bottom, I will have the students write “This is how I show respect!”  On the flaps, they will write “To Others,” “At School,” “At Home,” and “To the Earth.”  The students will also be able to draw a simple illustration on the front side of the flap.

Under each flap, younger students can draw a picture showing how they will show respect.  Older students can list a variety of ways to show the trait in each area.  You could also have students write an idea under the flap and then illustrate the idea at the top (behind the flap).





You could use this foldable for other traits too.

  • Responsibility- How I show it at school, home, with my things,  and with other’s property
  • Courage- Illustrate or write about four examples of times you showed courage.
If you can think of other ideas, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear more suggestions!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates. Also, be sure to enter the Character Readers and CD Giveaway which ends at 11:59 P.M. EST on Friday, June 15.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!