“Who Are You?” Thumball Giveaway

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If  you don’t already have one, the Thumball (Thumb Ball) is a great ice breaker to use in your school counseling program at the beginning of the school year.   It is also great for small groups.  I’ve been using it this week during my visits with my fifth graders.  It’s always neat to hear some of the answers they come up with.  Some answers made me laugh, and others touched my heart.  I mentioned the Thumball in my last post and explained that as students catch the ball, they share an answer for whatever is under their thumbs.  The size of the Thumball is about four inches.

Some of the phrases on the ball include:

  • Three Wishes
  • Happiest Memory
  • Three Yummy Foods
  • Three Gross Foods
  • Favorite TV Show or Movie
  • Best Book or Author
  • Great Vacation Place
  • Funniest Cartoon

During one of my classes this week, several students told about their happiest memories.  One student said his happiest memory was when his football team won the super bowl.  Another said his happiest memory was seeing his dad for the first time in the hospital after his heart attack.  A girl shared about a time before her grandma died when her family washed the car with water guns.  Students sharing their three wishes often included things like having certain electronics devices or owning horses.  One student shared her third wish saying, “I wish my mom and dad were never divorced.” Another student wished he could just see his dad. Even during a simple ice breaker activity, I was able to make note of some of the concerns my fifth graders are having.

So today, I want one of you to have one of these Thumballs.

There will be one winner selected to win this prize.  I will contact the winner by email to request the mailing address where he or she would like the Thumball sent.  I have already ordered it with some other items of mine and will ship it directly to the winner once it arrives.  You may enter this contest by using the Rafflecopter widget below this post.  There are several ways to enter.  You will receive three entries for subscribing for email updates.   Two entries are given for liking Savvy School Counselor on Facebook or pinning this giveaway on Pinterest.  Also, one entry is given for following Savvy School Counselor on Twitter.  

Enter to win before 11:59 P.M. EST on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Thanks for participating!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A Bandage For Your Heart

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Hello all!  After a busy last week of summer vacation, I finally started back to work on Friday, August 17.  I was so excited to move BACK into my guidance office from the much smaller office I used last year.  While cleaning out one of the drawers in my file cabinet, I came across another lesson I’ve used for discussing when students should see the school counselor.   I want to share it with you today.

The activity is called A Bandage for Your Heart.  To make the bandages, I used manila paper.  I cut them 18 inches by 6 inches.  I used a brown crayon to draw the “look” of the bandage.  I cut small red hearts using construction paper.  On the opposite side of each bandage, I added some sentences giving some reasons students may want to complete a self-referral form to see me.

There are eight bandages which have the following sentences:

  • My grandmother died this summer, and I really miss her.
  • My daddy is sick all the time, and he never plays with me anymore.
  • There’s somebody who showed me a knife at school and told me I better not tell.
  • My mommy and daddy scare me when they fuss.
  • There’s somebody on the bus who keeps picking on me and hitting me.
  • I don’t have anybody to play with.  Nobody will be my friend.
  • I got a trophy at my soccer match last Saturday.
  • It’s my birthday, and I’m so happy!

Use the last two statements to give examples of non-urgent situations that do not require an appointment with the school counselor.  Explain that you definitely want to hear good news from them, but an individual counseling session just for that purpose isn’t necessary.

Also, you’ll want to wear a bandage on your shirt close to your heart.  If no one asks why it’s there, ask the students if they noticed anything when you came in the room. From there, begin to share and explain each of the bandages.  Many times,  I would talk about different sized rocks to help explain urgent vs. non-urgent referrals.  A big rock is urgent, and students might need to see you on the same day.  A medium rock means it’s important, but the counselor can see you sometime that week.  A small rock is something you want to talk about, but you can wait until the following week to see the counselor if necessary.  If you use this to assist with your discussion, have the students share examples of what they think a small, medium, or large rock would be.  This is also a great time to show students what the form looks like, where to find it, how to complete it, and where to return it.

Check out this Self-Referral Activity in my TpT store if you’d like to use this activity with your students.

Healing the Heart- Self-Referral Activity

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always,  I’d love to hear from you.  How do you explain self-referrals to your students?

School Counselor’s First -Aid Kit

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While looking for more meet the school counselor ideas, I found a familiar idea from an old magazine on my bookshelf.  The original article was written by Michelle Jordan.

Many of us have heard of placing items in a bag and relating them to the school counselor’s role.  The School Counselor’s First-Aid Kit follows the same concept.  First, you’ll want to find something to hold your items.  Your kit can be kept in a box, or you can find a child’s toy doctor bag.  Label your kit “School Counselor’s First-Aid Kit.” Inside the kit, you’ll need the following items: a tissue, a toothpick, a Hershey’s Kiss, a star, a penny, a bandage, an eraser, a Life Saver, and a cotton ball.

After asking the students to tell you what first-aid kits are usually for, you can share each of these items one by one.  With your help, the students can tell how each item relates to your role.

    • Tissue–  A school counselor wants to help students dry their tears.  Students need to know it’s okay to cry if they have a problem.
    • Toothpick–  A school counselor helps students “pick out” their problems and work on them.
    • Hershey’s Kiss–  A school counselor wants to help students feel better and a treat can do just that.
    • Star–  A school counselor can help students find their way when they are lost.
    • Penny–  A penny reminds students that they are valuable and special.
    • Bandage–  A school counselor wants to  help heal students’ wounds.
    • Eraser–  The eraser reminds students that everyone makes mistakes.  School counselors help students deal with their feelings about the mistakes they’ve made.
    • Life Saver–  Life savers serve as a reminder that students can see the school counselor if they need someone to talk to.
    • Cotton Ball–  This reminds students that the school counselor is full of warm fuzzies and compliments.
To make the kit, I found a container at The Dollar Tree. I also used Making Memories’ “Creative Letters.”  I used foam sheets to make the star and to decorate the lid.  I found a nice, large eraser at The Dollar Tree also.

This kit can be kept in a visible spot in your office to remind students about your role.  You can also use it as you meet new students throughout the school year.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What else would you include in the First-Aid Kit and why?

Using Thinking Maps in School Counseling: Careers

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Thinking maps are great tools that can be applied to all content areas including school counseling.  They assist students with thinking more in depth about a topic.  School counselors can use them in many ways to enhance the impact of classroom guidance lessons or small groups.  Today, I want to share how you can use these eight thinking maps when teaching about careers.

The eight thinking maps are the circle map, tree map, bubble map, double bubble map, flow map, multi-flow map, brace map, and bridge map.  In this post, I will show how to use each of these thinking maps when teaching students about career awareness.

The circle map is used for defining in context.  This example shows medical careers.

The bubble map is used to describe using adjectives.  This example shows the desired characteristics of a nurse.

The tree map is used for classifying or grouping.  This example shows three career areas.  Under each area are examples of jobs in those careers.

The flow map is used to show sequence and order.  This example shows the steps it might take to obtain a job.  I say might because people starting their own businesses could follow a completely different path.

The multi-flow map is used to show causes and effects.  This example shows what it takes to go to college and how college will in turn lead to knowledge, a degree, and a job.

The bridge map is used for seeing analogies.  This example shows that a chiropractor is a type of doctor just as a professor is a type of teacher.

You can use the double bubble map to compare and contrast two jobs.  It is similar to a Venn diagram.  The three bubbles down the center show similarities, while the bubbles on either side will only show attributes of the bubble they are connected to.

The brace map is used for analyzing whole objects and parts.  Students can chose one job, list three parts of that job, and then further analyze the three parts.

If you haven’t already used thinking maps in your school counseling program, just know they are a great tool to use in order to help students become better learners.

Be sure to check out my product in my TpT store for teaching careers to the lower grades.  It incorporates a circle map in the paper folding activity.  You can also find Careers- Go Fish! for upper grades.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.   Do you use thinking maps in your school counseling program?


Meet the School Counselor Ideas

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I recently received an email from a reader about finding ideas school counselors can use when visiting students at the beginning of the year.  Today, I am sharing three ideas I’ve used in my program.  I can’t show you the actual pictures in this post since the items are packed away at school, but I will do my very best to explain how each activity is done.


Use A Circle Map

A Circle Map is one of eight Thinking Maps and is used for defining in context.  To use one, put a word inside the inner circle and write words or phrases to define or tell about that word in the outer circle.  You can also use pictures to help define the word.

Create a Circle Map to introduce yourself.  Draw your circle map on a large poster board.  In the middle, glue a picture of yourself and write your name. Around the picture in the outer circle, write words and find pictures of things that tell about you.  Some examples could include:

  • a picture of your child(ren) to show you are a mother or father
  • a picture of the mascot of your favorite team to show you are a fan
  • a character word that defines you such as caring, kind, compassionate
  • a picture showing your favorite hobby
  • a picture of your pet(s) to show you are a pet lover
  • a picture of musical notes if you are a singer
  • the words listener, helper, and friend to define your role as school counselor
Think about who you are and find words or pictures that define you and what you do as school counselor.
This can be an opener for your main lesson, or you can extend it by having the students create circle maps about themselves to share with you.  Your circle map can be used with all grade levels.

“A Counselor Is” Cards

You may have heard of the book Who is Your School Counselor by Lisa Miller and Connie Brown. It includes a story called “Who the School Counselor is NOT” and a BINGO game.  I used the bingo game one time.  The game didn’t stick for me, however the calling cards were perfect for helping my Kindergarten friends learn about what a school counselor does.  I have used them every year for the past six years.

There are five cards:

  1. Question Mark– This card stands for “problem solver.”  A school counselor helps you solve problems by assisting you with deciding what the problem is and what you can do about. Then you decide what to do.  I use this time to tell students that I will help them think of solutions to their problems, but which one they choose is up to them.
  2. Hand Cupped Ear– This card stands for “listener.”  A school counselor listens to your problems.  I use this time to tell students where my office is and that they can come see me to talk if they are feeling sad or upset about anything.
  3. Touching Hands– This card stands for “friend.”  A school counselor is your friend.  I use this time to tell students that I am their adult friend at school.  They will never be in trouble when they come to see me.  I am their friend and want to help them make things right.
  4. Alphabet/Math Problems/Pencil– This card stands for “helper.”  A school counselor helps you do your best in school.  I use this time to tell students how sad or angry boys and girls sometimes have difficulty in school.  I am there to help them work through their problems so they are ready to do their best work in class.
  5. Lips With Finger– This cards stands for “secret keeper.”  A school counselor keeps your secrets unless the secret will hurt you or someone else.  I use this time to give examples of which secrets I can keep and which secrets I have to tell.

I share these cards one at a time and explain what each one means.  This is another activity I use before the main lesson.  I always bring the cards back for the next lesson to review.  I was unable to find this product on the MAR*CO site, and Amazon is currently not selling it.  This leads me to believe it is no longer being sold. However, it wouldn’t be difficult at all to make your own set of cards with similar pictures to use this idea.  You can also use these cards with first or second graders.

Meet the Counselor Game

Create “Meet the Counselor” game cards to use with upper grade students.  This game is good to remind students about how to make appointments, what secrets you can and can’t keep, and any other facts you want to review with them.  For this game, use 4 x 6 index cards.  You can hand write the cards, or type everything, affix each question to the cards, and laminate them. Put “Meet the Counselor” on one side of each of the cards.  On the other side, put questions about the school counselor’s role as well as specific questions for your school. They can be true/false, open ended, multiple choice, or a combination. You’ll want to make sure to have enough questions for each student to have a turn.  Some example questions are:

  • If I tell the counselor I got into a big argument with my brother before school, he or she will:   a)  tell my parents  b) keep it confidential c) let my teacher know
  • I am in big trouble if I have to go see the school counselor! (true or false)
  • How do I make an appointment with the school counselor?
  • If my uncle hit me and left a bruise on my arm and I show my school counselor, he or she won’t tell anyone. (true or false)

Divide the class into two teams. You can decide how you want the teams to earn points.  I enjoy bringing a Nerf basketball and hoop set for points to make it extra fun.  First, I ask the student the question.  If he or she is unsure of the answer, he or she can ask the team for help. (This guarantees the team will get one point.)  Next, the student gets to shoot the ball for a bonus point for the team.  My little future NBA and WNBA stars love it!  We discuss at the beginning how to respond to a missed shot appropriately.  I don’t usually have tangible prizes for this game.  One team just ends up with the most points.

If you don’t wish to use the cards as a class game, they can be used for a whole class discussion as well.  Either way, use the questions to jump start discussions about important information your students need to know about the school counselor.  

This meet the counselor game is available in my TpT store.  It comes with 26 pre-printed game cards.  CLICK HERE to check it out!

You may also like these “Whooo’s” the School Counselor Posters to use with your younger students and The Meet the Counselor Files great for both lower and upper grades. 

I’ve recently added a Meet the Counselor Bundle which includes the game, posters, a self-referral lesson and my August Activity Pack which is dedicated to Meet the Counselor activities.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!  How do you plan to introduce yourself and the role of the school counselor to your students?

Teaching Children About Self-Expression

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I recently found an adorable book about self-expression called Unique Monique written by Maria Rousaki.  I’m sure you have an idea of why Monique is unique just by looking at the cover.  However, her large, red glasses are not her only way of expressing herself!

Monique attends a school where everyone wears a uniform.  Everyday she must wear her blue top and brown skirt. She wants to be different, so each day she looks for a way to express her uniqueness from painting her nails to carrying a big fancy bag.  Sadly, all of her ideas are prohibited by the school principal.

Interestingly enough, every idea Monique comes up with is quickly embraced by her school mates.  They always return to school the next day repeating the same actions as Monique had done the day before.

It finally ends with Monique displaying her uniqueness in a way her principal could do nothing about!  You’ll have to read the story to find out how!

This book can be used to lead into a discussion about how we are all special and have unique qualities.  Shy or withdrawn students can benefit from a discussion like this as they work to develop positive attitudes toward themselves as unique and worthy people. Monique expressed herself in a variety of ways.  Like Monique, we all have gifts inside to share with others.

I looked in one of my favorite resources, Turn the Page for Play Therapy Activities, for an activity to tie into this discussion.  In order to assist shy or withdrawn students with “coming out of their shells,” it is important to help them realize the strengths that lie within them.  This great resource, by Dr. Michele Neace Page and Dr. Joy Wilson, has an activity called “What’s the Prize Inside?”   This would be a great small group activity.  Each student is given 5-6 plastic eggs, drawing paper, and a small basket.  You can make paper baskets out of paper bags or find some at the dollar tree.

The students will place “prizes” in each of their eggs.  The “prizes” are examples of their own special qualities.  They can cut pictures from magazines or draw their own pictures to illustrate their special qualities.  Each picture will go inside of an egg.  The students can then decide which “prize” they want to share with the group.

I love that this great resource is aligned with the ASCA standards.  Each activity lists the specific standards that are addressed.  It also comes with a CD which includes all of the reproducible pages from the book.

Of course if you don’t have any plastic eggs on hand, you can always have your students make foldables! (I love a foldable!)

I made this foldable with four flaps.  Since the “prizes inside” are like their special gifts to others, your students can decorate the outside of each flap to look like a gift.  Inside each flap, they can glue pictures from magazines or draw the pictures of each gift.  You can create a school counselor sample to share with students.  Behind one flap, glue a picture of an ear because one of your gifts to your students is to be a good listener.  Another flap can have a bandage because your job is to help children heal.

No matter how you choose to use Unique Monique, it will be a hit with your students.  This book also lends itself to a discussion about being who you are- even within a group.  You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing just to fit in.  Be yourself!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!  Tell me about books you use to teach self-expression.