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  Shy or withdrawn students can benefit from a discussion like this as they work to develop positive attitudes toward themselves as unique and worthy people.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  In order to assist shy or withdrawn students with “coming out of their shells,” it is important to help them realize the strengths that lie within them.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.


8 thoughts on “Teaching Children About Self-Expression

  1. AdOrAbLe . . . I LOVE your foldable!! I’ve seen the prize inside the box idea before but never thought about doing it as a foldable . . . cool! Oh, and this year I’m asking for a classroom so maybe I could do it with a whole class, not just a small group. I’m pinning Unique Monique onto my must-reads list and calling to order it today. Thanks, Vanessa.

  2. Vanessa This is a wonderful story. I love the foldable activity which can be adapted to whole group/classroom. Thanks for sharing. Yvette

  3. Hi Vanessa! Dr. Page was my professor at IU Southeast in New Albany, Indiana during my Master’s program. She is excellent! She has so many great ideas, resources, etc. Her book is great and she is a beautiful person, too! I thoroughly enjoyed her classes and learned so much from her. You’ll LOVE “Turn The Page”! Thanks for your wonderful blog and ideas! I am a school counselor in Indiana and am in my second year. I also taught second grade for 14 years! Hope you have a great school year and keep up the blogging!

    • Thanks for your comment, Beth. Yes, Turn the Page is a wonderful resource. It’s awesome that you had the opportunity to take a class with Dr. Page. I’m so glad you stopped by! I hope you have a great school year also.

  4. Unique Monique. LOVE! We actually just visited a Monique we have in our family and she is quite unique. Must be the name :-) Love your blog! Monique obviously gets pinned. And may we all embrace our quirkiness and whimsy.

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