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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?