Growth Mindset: Bubble Gum Brain

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BubbleGumBrainI know I am just one of many school counselors who LOVES Julia Cook and her great children’s books.  My school counseling program wouldn’t be complete without them!  Today, Julia’s newest book, Bubble Gum Brain: Ready, Get Mindset…GROW! was released.  I am so excited to already have a copy, and today I want to tell you why you’ll have to have it!

If you are already familiar with Julia Cooks many titles, you know how much children enjoy them and how she’s able to find creative ways to help them understand a wide array of topics from divorce and test taking to personal space and tattling.  This newest book doesn’t disappoint!

In Bubble Gum Brain , Julia creatively uses the characteristics of bubble gum to explain growth mindset.  The Bubble Gum Brain character says, “I like to chew on my thoughts, flex, bend and stretch my brain, and expand the way I think!  I make great mistakes that help me learn.”  She also has a character displaying a fixed mindset.  His name is Brick Brain, and he says, “With me, things are the way they are…and they’re probably not going to change much.  I am the way I am…and that’s just how it is.”

Throughout the book, both Bubble Gum Brain and Brick Brain are seen encountering the same situations, experiences, tests and trials.  We read how each character responds to each situation from both perspectives.  The examples are great and just right for helping young students understand the difference between a growth and fixed mindset.  Eventually, Bubble Gum Brain suggests that Brick Brain try using his own bubble gum brain by  peeling off his bubble gum wrapper.  It’s just a matter of time before Brick Brain begins to change his way of thinking, and his gray scale  image becomes full color.  I like the phrase near the end which says “becoming is better than being.”

This wonderful book teaches kids that the sky is the limit.  I absolutely LOVE it, and I can’t wait to incorporate it into my school counseling program next year. Her 7 “Tips For Growing a Child’s Mindset” on the last two pages of the book are excellent and include teaching kids the power of yet and helping them understand it’s okay and even necessary to make mistakes as we learn and grow.  You will undoubtedly be glad you added this book to your school counseling library!

Check out this YouTube video featuring Julia talking about her new book!

Would you like a free copy of Bubble Gum Brain?  Check out the giveaway post on my Facebook page.  Three winners will be chosen on Friday, April 28th.  The giveaway will end at 11:00PM EST that night.

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4 Stories for Primary Grades

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It’s always great to have books to go to when addressing various student issues. Today, I’d like to share four titles you may want to consider using in your school counseling program. Three of the stories are by Stephanie Jensen, and the fourth story is by Rosalinde Block.

The Princess Priscilla series is by Stephanie Jensen.  Priscilla is a bumble bee who helps students learn about feelings with Princess Priscilla and the Mood Ring Rainbow,  acceptance and belonging with Princess Priscilla and the Great Beezilla and bullying with Princess Priscilla and the Bully-Bee Day.









In Princess Priscilla and the Mood Ring RainbowPriscilla is excited to wear her new mood ring.  Priscilla experiences a rainbow of moods as she goes throughout her day.  She goes from happy, jealous, embarrassed and bored to feeling joy, anger, confusion and sadness, and her mood ring changes colors with each feeling.  I love how this book shares the ways Priscilla deals with each of the feelings she experiences which provides students with go to strategies.

In Princess Priscilla and the Great Beezilla, Priscilla demonstrates what acceptance looks like to the other bumble bees when a beetle wants to play with them.  Iris the Beetle wants to play with the bees so badly, she attempts to disguise herself as a bee so they will accept her.  However, because beetles are larger than bees, she ends up being called “Beezilla” by the other bees.  Although her friends refused, Priscilla still welcomes Iris to play.  She doesn’t judge Iris and encourages her to “bee” herself.  Iris washes away her disguise and enjoys being with her new friends.  I love how this book not only encourages children to accept and be who they are, but it also leads them to be accepting of those who are different from them.

In Princess Priscilla and the Bully-Bee Day, Priscilla wakes up in a bad mood and spends the day disrespecting her classmates and wanting everything her way.  As the day progresses, none of the other bees want to play with her and they say she’s a “Bully-Bee.”  Her mom, the Queen, reminds her that “hurtful words sting” and as a princess, she needs to use her words for good.  The next day she apologizes and feels much better using words that are “sweet like honey.”  I love that this book includes discussion questions and reproducible activities at the end.  It also includes a list of social skills to teach with the story including taking turns, being a friend, making an apology, accepting an apology, reporting bully-bee behaviors, asking for help and accepting “no.”


The fourth book is called Julia Morphs and Learns to Accept Herself  by Rosalinde Block.  This book is just right for young girls needing a boost to their self-esteem.  This story is all about self-acceptance and illustrates an excellent example of how to appreciate who you are regardless of what you look like.  Julia compares herself to her best friend Abena who is a slender rabbit.  She summons the “wishing fairy” and asks to become a rabbit.  Her wish is granted, but it doesn’t take long before Julia is faced with the challenges of her new self.  She could no longer fit her clothes and her classmates were scared when they realized the new little rabbit was in fact Julia.  As her day continued to go downhill, she was reminded by Abena that everyone has their own strengths.  Abena told Julia all of the things she does so well, and Julia decides to summon the wishing fairy once more.  She feels much better when she wakes in the morning, back to her normal size and feeling “peaceful and very wise.”  I love how this book demonstrates how important it is to accept your own uniqueness.

These stories can be used for classroom lessons, small groups or with individual students.  I’m glad to have them as part of my collection!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also follow my TpT Store to keep up with my latest products and freebies.  Additionally, I do giveaways through My Facebook Page with my new products.  Be sure to like Savvy School Counselor on Facebook and click to receive notifications so you don’t miss them!

It’s Almost Back to School Time!

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In just three more weeks, I will be back at my school preparing to see my students and starting a brand new school year.  Regardless of how much I love my summer break (and I mean LOVE…), there is something exciting about starting over with a fresh, clean slate!  It’s time to start thinking about setting up my office and planning for the school year.  Here are a few things I want to share again to get you thinking about ideas to incorporate at your school.

A few years ago, I shared how I made this Crafty Character Trait Collage.  If you’re like me and enjoy being “crafty” from time to time, this is a fun project to take on.  It’s just a matter of finding stickers and letters that appeal to you, scrapbook paper and a little time.  Check out this post if you’d like more information on how to create one yourself.  Walmart continues to sell these exact same frames in black and brown.


I plan to continue my College and Career Spotlight bulletin board this school year.  As I shared in January, half of the board highlights colleges and universities and half spotlights an individual career cluster.  Although I didn’t get through many schools during the last school year, the staff at my school was very helpful with supplying school paraphernalia for their Alma Maters. I’m looking forward to spotlighting more this year.


I have really loved using the book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives with my students.  This book helps facilitate everything you’ll want to touch on during your meet the counselor lessons or new student groups.

Book Cover

Finally, for anyone looking to add to your school counseling resources, starting at midnight tonight, the annual site-wide TpT Back to School Sale will be underway.  The sale will run through Tuesday, August 2nd.  During those two days, you can save 28% on all the resources in my TpT store.  All you need to do is use the Promo Code:  BestYear for the complete discount.

August 16 Sale

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College and Career Readiness

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If there is one area I want to see grow in my school counseling program, it is college and career readiness.  Today, I am sharing a great resource and a bulletin board idea.

First, I want to share a book from Youthlight.  Lisa King authored a great resource called How to Create a College Day.  It was created specifically for grades 3-8 so it can be used by both elementary and middle school counselors.

College and Career Readiness - Savvy School CounselorThis resource includes a CD.  It provides a timeline for creating a college day along with lesson plans and activities.  It also includes ideas for bulletin boards and decorations.  Letter templates and forms are already created for you, and the CD includes powerpoints for both a classroom lesson and a stakeholder’s presentation.

A Pre/Post Test is included for gathering data.  There is also a list of suggested speakers for the event.

I like the idea of students “choosing courses” which is how they determine which speakers they would like to hear.  I also like the college day lunch idea where students invite a family member who attended or attends college to come have lunch.  Everyone is encouraged to wear their respective college gear.

There are so many great ideas:  craft activities, reproducible sheets, door decorating ideas and college readiness articles.  I believe the ideas in this book could also be used when planning a career day.

If you are planning a college day or college week at your school, this book is an excellent resource and a great guide.  I am so excited to use it!

Bulletin Board

College and Career Readiness - Savvy School Counselor

This bulletin board is a display I plan to change at different points throughout the school year.  I got the idea from a school counselor I follow on twitter.  (@LFESCounselor)  She created a board similar to this at her school that she changes weekly.  Be sure to check her out on Twitter.  She shares lots of great pictures and ideas from her program.  My time always tends to get away from me, so I named my board “College and Career Spotlight” so I wouldn’t keep missing a weekly deadline…lol.  (Note to self…It’s time to change the board!)  I think it’s been well received.  I started by creating and sending a google form requesting the names of colleges and universities attended by our staff.  The colleges I spotlight will come from that list.  On the right side, I will focus on an individual career cluster.  Once the new school year begins, I’ll be more likely to get through all sixteen clusters.  Hopefully I’ll get through several some a few before the end of the school year. (Where does the time go?  I don’t know how @LFESCounselor does it! lol)

Another way the staff at my school promotes college awareness is by wearing college gear on the last Friday of every month.

Be sure to check out my career products in my store.

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Teaching Good Study Habits

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Learn about this study skills resource, STEP UP to Better Grades, by Robin Zorn. - Savvy School CounselorDon’t you just love when you choose a school counseling resource online and SCORE!?  Well, let me tell you about another resource from Youthlight that you should consider adding to your collection of resources.  STEP UP to Better Grades was created by Robin Zorn, the 2014 School Counselor of the Year.  As soon as I began looking through the book at the lessons and all of the activity options included, I began to think of so many ways to use this resource.  Let me tell you more about it.

The book includes a CD with all of the activities and games along with PowerPoints and letters for parents.  Pre- and Post-Tests are also included.  There are core lessons for each study habit and 66 additional extension activities.

Each letter in STEP UP represents a different study habit.

  • S is for Space:  This section focuses on making a suitable work space at home similar to the work space at school.
  • T is for Tools:  This section discusses the necessary tools students need to stay organized such as agendas, keeping back packs and desks neat and in order and creating a schedule.
  • E is for Ending:  Ending focuses on goal setting and prioritizing.  Setting and meeting goals will help students feel successful with their learning.
  • P is for Pay Attention:  The activities involve different ways for students to practice staying focused by challenging students using memory activities.
  • U is for Understand Directions:  This section provides a variety of activities for students to practice following verbal and written directions.
  • P is for Practice:  This area provides ideas students can use to help them remember and learn information by first discovering their learning style and then by learning helpful techniques such as using mnemonics.

One thing I really like about the activities in this book is that most learning styles can benefit from the activities.  Many of the these lessons really get the students involved and moving or using their hands.  That alone is exciting to me, because I believe it’s so important to reach as many learning styles as possible during my lessons.

Another great thing about this book is that it incorporates ASCA standards.  The standards addressed are included in a document on the CD.

Finally, I love how Robin provides activities that tie good study habits to career development.

Like I said before, there are so many ways this book can be used.  The activities may be used for classroom counseling lessons, small groups or individual counseling sessions.  I’m always excited to find new ways to spice up my school counseling program.

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Teaching Social Skills

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Social SuccessI recently acquired a wonderful new resource from Youthlight, Inc. that’s already a “go to” for my school counseling program.  It’s called First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn and is for grades K-6.  Whenever new school counselors ask me what resources I recommend, I always suggest resources by Diane Senn.  I believe I have at least 90% of the resources she has produced.  This latest book does not disappoint!  We’ve just completed our fourth week of school, and I am already excited about using this book in my program.

I often hear from my administration and staff about students needing improvement with social skills.  There are so many different skills that fall under the “Social Skills” umbrella.  Counseling sessions and groups really need to be tailored to meet the specific needs of the student(s).  First Steps to Social Success is a great way to determine exactly what the student needs.

I am already using it with a couple of my individual sessions this year.  It comes with a CD which includes printable handouts and interactive review lessons.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I previewed the interactive lessons.  I already have and use both volumes of Smart Guidance Multi-Topic Lessons, which are interactive Smart Board lessons, and the children really enjoy them.  The interactive lessons on this First Steps to Social Success CD are excellent ways to reinforce each topic and are sure to make your lessons fun, creative and grab the attention of your students.  This resource may be used with individuals, groups or classes.

First Steps to Social Success includes a Pre/Post Social Skills Assessment which addresses each of the topics included in the book.  The same assessment may be used for school personnel, parents or as a self-assessment for your older students.  The person completing the assessment ranks each skill as either a mastered skill, an emerging skill or a deficit skill.  As with any good pre-assessment, it helps you determine exactly how to approach each individual case.  If you find that several students are emerging or deficit in similar areas, a small group may be formed.

The following topics are included in this resource:

Section 1:  Knowing Myself First – This section is said to be a prerequisite of social skills that reviews skills that are necessary to master before interaction with others.  In these six lessons, students focus on appreciating and valuing themselves, understanding they have control over their thinking and actions and respecting and appreciating the differences in others.

Knowing Myself First - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 2:  Initiating With Friends – The five lessons in this section help students learn to successfully initiate and connect with others to build new relationships.  Lessons focus on body language and facial expressions, finding common interests, starting conversations and personal space.

Initiating With Others - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 3:  Learning Conversation Skills – This section has seven lessons that help students learn to maintain a conversation.  They learn that conversations should be shared, practice “listening” body signals and words, learn friendly voice tone and how to stay on topic.

Learning Conversation Skills - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 4:  Reading Social Cues – The last seven lessons center around reading others’ social cues.  Therefore, the lessons focus on feelings, correctly identifying feelings, observing and processing others’ body language and responding to other people and their feelings.

Reading Social Cues - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

The written and hands-on activities throughout the book are both relevant and well thought through.  Along with the interactive review lessons on the CD are graphic cue cards.  There are 25 social skills lessons in all.  There is also a student assignment form and parent/teacher reinforcement form that can be used to help students continue to practice the skills outside of the individual sessions or groups.

I truly believe I am just scratching the surface with what I can do with this resource.  If you can’t get this resource now, I encourage you to put it on your school counselor wish list.

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