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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Introducing the School Counselor Giveaway

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~A great new book about Introducing the School Counselor by Erainna Winnett~I recently received my copy of a new book for introducing the school counselor.  The book is called Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives by Erainna Winnett, and it is geared toward Kindergarten through 6th Grade.

The role of the school counselor is explained throughout the book as a new student, Raymond, meets and talks to his new counselor for the first time.   The following description is found on the back of the book:

“Mrs. Joyce, the school counselor at Emerson Elementary, uses high-fives to connect with her students. When Raymond moves to town he’s not sure what to think of Mrs. Joyce. He enters her office nervous and full of questions, but it doesn’t take long for him to trust the caring counselor. By learning exactly what a school counselor does, Raymond finds he has nothing to fear and much to gain from friendly Mrs. Joyce.”

“Building relationships is one of the primary jobs of a school counselor. Whether it’s giving a high-five, a thumbs-up, a fist bump, a handshake or a hug, finding a way to connect with students is vital. “Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives” is a fun-loving story that explains the important role of the school counselor.”

The very last page includes an idea from my Meet the School Counselor Ideas post!  I am very excited to be a part of Erainna’s great book.

Enter this giveaway to win your own copy of Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives signed by Erainna.  This giveaway will run through Thursday, August 14 at 11:59 P.M. EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My School Counselor- Freebie Download

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FREE TpT Download- My School Counselor ActivityIf you are already thinking about your Meet the School Counselor lessons, let this FREEBIE be one activity on your list.  It’s a simple activity sheet for school counselors to use with students as they discuss their role within the school.  It can be used like a note taking sheet or a review activity to be completed after meeting the counselor.

The sheet offers a space for students to list reasons to see the counselor.  You may have them brainstorm and share, or you may give them reasons to list on their sheets for future reference.

There are two sentences to complete also.  One says “The counselor is my adult friend because…”  It’s important that students realize how your relationships with them differ from those with administrators and teachers.  The other says “My counselor keeps my secrets unless…”  Your first meeting with students should always include this discussion.  School counselors keeps secrets unless someone is being hurt.

The cloud at the top is a space for students to write what they want to talk to the counselor about.  You can give the students an opportunity to share their clouds privately with you during the lesson as you circulate the room.

You can download this FREE sheet at my TpT Store.

Meet the Counselor GameI’ve also created a product to go along with my Meet the Counselor game shared in my post Meet the School Counselor Ideas from last year.  In this post I shared about a game I play with my 5th graders which incorporates a Nerf basketball  and goal set.  This product sells for $3.00 on TpT.  However, it is discounted to $2.50 today through Tuesday, July 16th.

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.

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?

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?