Kindergarten: Feelings and Responsibility

Posted on

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?

Pass the Mic: Singing About Good Character

Posted on

One of the first purchases I made before starting my school counseling job was two sets of books and CDs.  I remember going to my neighborhood teacher supply store to find resources for my new job, only to find out the terrible truth.  You won’t find any school counseling resources at your regular teacher supply stores.  You can, however, find a few things supporting character education.  So after grabbing some character ed. resources, I stumbled upon these character education readers published by Creative Teaching Press.  Each set contains six books and one CD.  I can tell you, I haven’t skipped a year without using them!I really enjoy singing songs with my Kindergarten friends.  They have come to expect a new song each time I visit.

Our school system focuses on eight specific character traits, and I have a song to go with each one.

  • Responsibility- You Can Count on Me!
  • Respect- Following the Rules
  • Courage- Dare to Have Courage
  • Kindness- Everyone is Special and Unique or Show You Understand
  • Self-Discipline- Think Before You Act
  • Integrity- Telling the Truth
  • Perseverance- Never Give Up!
  • Good Judgment- Would It Be Right?

It doesn’t hurt that I enjoy singing. The words in the books are the lyrics to the songs.  The chorus is usually easy enough for the kids to pick up.  By the second play, they are singing right along with me.  I love it!  It is a great way to help the smaller ones understand what those BIG character  words really mean.  Once they are in first grade, I’ll sing a line or two to remind them of the meaning of the character trait we are discussing.  Many of them will still remember the choruses.

There is a resource book that goes along with the character readers.  You can make individual student readers for small groups and use the additional activities to go along with each of the books.  Most companies sell these books individually or as a complete set.  You can still find them in six packs as well.  You can also purchase the CD separately.  There are four additional books about various topics including sharing, friendship, compassion, and cooperation.  These books are great for lower elementary age groups.

Stick around! You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me!

It’s A Jellybean Jamboree!

Posted on

I really, really enjoy visitng my Kindergarten friends.  They are like little sponges and are always ready to hear something new.  A few years ago, I came across the resource Jellybean Jamboree by Susan Jelleberg.  As with many school counseling resources I order, many times I can only go by written reviews of the product or just the description alone.  This purchase was a great choice for me.  It is amazing how you can copy, color, and laminate a picture of a jellybean, tape it to a ruler and have the complete attention of a Kindergarten class!  I call them my “Jellybean Friends” and bring all six of them on separate occasions.  I usually have my jellybean friend hiding as to not be seen before the big reveal.  Because each jellybean friend comes with a different lesson to portray, the students are always very eager to find out about it.  What color is the jellybean?  Is it happy or sad?  Is it nice to the other jellybeans?  Whenever possible, I try to tie the jellybean’s story in with the character trait of the month.

I begin the school year with Emotional Eugene, The Feeling Blue Jellybean.  He comes with me to my first lesson of the year as I introduce myself to our new Kindergartners and talk about feelings.  As I teach them about what a school counselor is and does, Eugene’s situation warrants itself for a referral to his jellybean counselor.  They begin to understand that if they ever feel blue, as Eugene does, I am available and they may come and talk with me.

Me Maureen, The Self-Knowing Lavender Jellybean, visits when I talk about respect.  I use her to remind the students to show respect for themselves. We spend a lot of time talking about how to show respect for others, property, and the environment as well.  Maureen helps me tie in eating healthy foods and exercising in order to take care of (respect) oneself and to also have confidence in individual abilities.

Ornery Ordean, The Misbehaving Green Jellybean, helps me talk about Self-Discipline. He doesn’t always think before he acts and ends up making poor choices.  He can be a bully, at times, towards the other jellybean friends, so he also helps me facilitate a discussion on a kindergarten level about bullying.

Friendly Francine, The Neighborly Pink Jellybean visits when we discuss the character trait kindness. She is a very friendly jellybean, shares with others, and fills others buckets with kind words and good deeds.

Angry Arlene, The Grumpy Red Jellybean visits when I focus on anger management.  My kindergarten friends are so cute as they listen in disbelief to the things Angry Arlene does to the other jellybeans.  By the end of the lesson, we hope we’ve given Arlene some helpful tips on being a good friend and controlling her anger.

Decision-Making Dean, The Problem Solving Orange Jellybean, visits when I talk about good judgment.  Dean thinks about the choices he makes and tries his best to always show good judgment.

Since I’ve used Jellybean Jamboree, not one school year has gone by where I haven’t visited my first grade friends for our first guidance lesson and heard, “Which jellybean friend did you bring today?”  When I tell them the jellybeans only visit kindergarten classes, they are actually pretty disappointed! This reminds me that the jellybeans really make an impact, and as long as they do, I will continue to share them with my kindergarten friends!

Do you use the Jellybean Jamboree units?  How do you incorporate them into your school counseling program?  I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!