Saturday, November 26, 2011


Our school PTA publishes a monthly newsletter that is distributed to every family in our school. I'm sure this project is a huge undertaking, but it is a great way for administrators, teachers, and other school staff to inform parents and other school community members of what is happening in our school.

 I include a page titled, Counselor Connection, in each published newsletter. 

Counselor Connection
  • At the top of the page - Counselor Connection flanked by my name, school, role, counseling office phone number, main office phone number, and my email address.
  • The first section that spans across the page, is my monthly message. In this section, I describe the past month's events and happenings from the counseling office perspective. Highlights from school functions, a message of encouragement, or a short personal story may show up in this section. It is through my message that I hope the readers will be able to see a bit of my personality.
  • Classroom Lessons - This section tells readers what grade levels I visited to do large group guidance lessons, what topics were covered, and some highlights that parents/guardians can bring up in discussions at home to reinforce the skills/concepts learned. This is where I inform readers of upcoming lessons and topic areas.
  • News Flash - Readers will find upcoming events or other helpful information in this section. I will list information about programs I'm running during the school day that require parent permission (such as small groups), after school programs, summer camps/programs, upcoming events for parents/guardians, community service/agency information, and highlights of school events related to the school counseling program. I remind parents/guardians to call for further information and/or applications (if needed), if they have any questions, or if they need any assistance accessing the mentioned services or programs. I include my name and phone number again in this section.

Holiday Season.

Every year I find myself headed into the Holiday Season with shock that it is "that" time of year again!

Our school PTA puts out a monthly newsletter in which I include a page titled The Counselor Connection each time it is published. The Holiday Season and the approach of the harsh winter months is difficult for many families.This year, in The Counselor Connection, I included information for local agencies that provide holiday assistance, utility assistance, and food and clothing assistance.

Considering we may not always be aware of those families who need community services to help get them back on their feet or who are suffering behind closed doors, this reference in the newsletter may be just enough information to encourage those folks to reach out.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hot, Hot Anger!

Wowza - was it a hot day today! This time of year is always challenging in a non-air conditioned school building. Everyone seems to be a bit more temperamental due to the uncomfortable weather conditions. You may need to employ the perfect "cooling off" lesson when those tempers are flaring! Below you will find a lesson on anger management for your younger elementary students.

Purchase the book, When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman. You will also need some red paper, markers, and a water spray bottle. Towards the middle of the book, there is a page devoted to a picture of the very angry rabbit. I drew that picture (to a size that is about 2 or 3 ft. in height) onto poster board, colored the picture, cut it out and then laminated it. You will need these props later in the lesson.

I first teach the students the three anger rules. We talk about each of these rules in depth and give a few examples of how someone may break one or more of the rules.
1.  You may not hurt yourself
2.  You may not hurt others
3.  You may not hurt property.

These anger rules are discussed in detail in Diane Senn's book, Coping with Conflict. This book is a real staple in any elementary school counseling program!

Next, I read the book, When I Feel Angry. As I am reading, we look to see if any of the anger rules are broken and we discuss any anger consequences in the story. We also discuss how the rabbit is such a smart cookie -- she figures out ways to deal with her anger in a healthy way!

Finally, I prop the laminated life-sized rabbit up against something on the floor and put paper towels underneath it. Then, I have each student think of what he/she could do to cool-off when he/she is angry so that none of the anger rules are broken. Each student gets a chance to approach the life-size rabbit, squirt her with water from a spray bottle (to cool off her anger), and then tell the class how he/she will cool off the next time he/she is angry. I write down all of the ideas on red paper and hang up the ideas in the classroom.

The students love squirting the angry rabbit and telling her their own unique ideas for handling their angry feelings appropriately. Every time I do this lesson, I get the cutest ideas!

On a hot day...maybe you can quickly squirt each student with the water bottle! Ahhhhhh!!

When I Feel Angry (Way I Feel Books)     Coping with Conflict: An Elementary Approach  Liquid Fence 82413-32 24oz 3pk Spray Bottles  Whitney Design Plastic Spray Bottle

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sandwich Swap

As I shopped earlier this year, the illustration on the cover of the children's literature book, The Sandwich Swap, caught my eye. I picked up the book and began to read it...a lovely story and gorgeous illustrations! Not only does it portray a wonderful lesson about friendship, but the book can be used for a variety of other topics: conflict resolution, anger management, diversity, or active listening skills to name a few.

I used this book in my kindergarten classes for a lesson on friendship.

First, I gathered the students in front of me on the floor and introduced the book. I did a little demonstration with a willing student volunteer to illustrate the word "swap." I then asked, "If this book is titled The Sandwich Swap, what do you think the story is about?" We talked about how the girls look on the cover; their emotions, what they might be thinking or talking about, etc.

Next, I read the story. I stopped throughout to ask pertinent discussion questions. I highlighted the emotions of being friends with someone, the activities that friends do, what hummus is, the emotions of being hurt by a friend, the behavior of the bystanders, the consequences to poor choices, etc.

Finally, I had the students sit in a circle on the floor. I asked the students, "What friendly activities did the girls do in the beginning of the story?" I said, "Later, the girls realized that each other's sandwiches looked unusual. The truth is, all of us enjoy eating different things, but that doesn't mean we should ever say EEEWWW to our friend or argue with them because of it. We need to really cherish how different we are!"

Prior to the lesson, I printed out (on card stock) life size colored pictures of all the sandwich toppings (and breads) I could think of and laminated them. Toppings such as: mayonnaise, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, chips, ham, cheese, hummus, and various types of breads, etc. I showed the students each of these pictures and laid them out on the floor in the middle of the circle. I put down a long piece of paper on the floor titled: Our Friendship Sandwich. Students were directed to choose a sandwich topping, pick it up and add it to the sandwich we were "building" on top of the large piece of paper (going lengthwise on the paper - putting one topping on at a time). Each student then had to tell us something friendly they enjoy doing with a friend. The sandwich was built on the left of the paper and I wrote the friendly acts along side each topping.

After every student had a turn to add a topping, we pretended to eat our huge friendship sandwich. No "yuck" comments from anyone!


Saturday, May 14, 2011


The school year is quickly coming to an end!!

After doing a lesson on the transition to middle school, I was in search of an idea for a final classroom guidance lesson for my fifth grade students. I had wanted to read a picture book to these classes and as I was searching through my counseling office library, I re-connected with a fantastic book - One by author Kathryn Otoshi. I quickly began planning for this lesson because I just had to use this book! A book about being the "1" to make a difference in someones life (especially in bullying situations), I focused on the simplicity of the message in this book.

First, I had a discussion with the students. For me, springtime in 5th grade is particularly sentimental. As the 5th graders leave us, I often wonder what has become of these bright youngsters as they become teenagers and young adults. It's unfortunate for us at the elementary level because we don't often reconnect with these students. I encouraged them to return to visit us or send us notes.

Second, I introduced the book. I told them that I chose this book because it is a book of few words and illustrations but has an extremely powerful message. 

Third, I read the book. Along the way, I paused for discussion points. The students were very invested in the conversation and discussion. In every classroom, there was much active participation! The kids were so insightful and gosh, the connections they made were unreal!

Fourth, I asked the students if they could think of anyone in history, in the country, in the world, in their neighborhood, in their life - that made a difference (single handedly). I wrote their responses down; Martin Luther King Jr. was the top response. Other examples from the lists were: President Obama, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, and Amelia Earhart. The biggest shocker came when a student in every class said, "You, Dr. Fuller." I have to say, I cried every time! We added the word "educators" to our list of "1's."

Next, I handed every student a small paper number "1." I asked each student to think of how he/she will be the "1" to make a difference in someones life. Each student was to write his/her name on the "1" and their personal idea. After this task, they re-gathered with me and we shared their amazing ideas.

Finally, in a prominent place in the main school hallway, I put up an outline of a large number "1" with blue painter's tape. Inside the "1" I will be adding all the student's personal paper "1's" so that everyone can view how this class of fifth graders will make a difference in this world.

It was a sentimental, powerful, and timely lesson. I encourage you to give it a try.

"It just takes one."