Saturday, January 28, 2012


A web search for self-esteem small group activities led me to the following. I'm sorry to say, I didn't write down where I found the original idea. Whoever came up with this...kudos to you!

Most school counselors know the activity - IALAC (I Am Lovable And Capable) - in which students where some form of paper product on their back and peers walk around writing positive messages about the person on the paper product. It's a perfect activity to use as a keepsake for students.

The "I CAN" activity is similar...but students will create their own examples of what they CAN do, write on a slip of paper, and put in their own "I CAN!" On a rough day, they can open up the "I CAN" and read some of their strengths as pick-me-ups!

Trying to think of an economical can to use/buy, I searched my kitchen cabinets for ideas. There I found some cleaned icing containers which I thought would be perfect to use for this activity. I knew I kept those containers for a reason!!

I covered the plastic containers with scrapbooking paper and cut a hole in each lid. Next I added a label of "I CAN." I made one can for each student in the small group. I can't get over how cute these are! They are the perfect size and the lid can be easily removed to look inside.

After a lesson on strengths and weaknesses, I gave each student one of my creations. I discussed how to use the "I CAN" and we brainstormed a few examples to put inside. During the subsequent group session, we talked about "I CAN" slips they dropped inside over the course of the week prior.

1st Grade Behavioral Choices and Consequences

As I frantically searched for an idea on how to teach first graders about behavioral choices and consequences, I decided to use one of my favorite children's books.

I read the book: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. Throughout the story, the students and I discussed the various behavioral choices the characters made and the consequences of their choices. These consequences usually involved accidents, disasters, and the brief loss of a valued friend. During this discussion, I can remember being so impressed by the connections the students were making.

After the story, we brainstormed "safety rules" to write on stars. These "safety rules" followed this format: If I _____, then _____.
Here are some examples of rules that were created:
  • If I talk in class, then I will not learn.
  • If I push a friend, then he/she may get hurt.
  • If I don't let someone play, then he/she will feel sad.
  • If I finish my homework, then I will learn more and my teacher will be proud of me.

Over the holidays, I found the life-sized paintings of Officer Buckle and Gloria that I had made years ago! I couldn't believe that the heat and cold in the attic didn't ruin them!! I can remember making these -- a labor of love --complete with faux fur on Gloria's tail and faux hair on Officer Buckle.

So, before the students returned for the next week's small group session, I created a bulletin board for their star safety rules. 

This lesson could be easily adapted to other grade levels and for use in classrooms. While I focused on consequences, just plain ol' safety rules (home, school, neighborhood) could also be the objective of a lesson.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

No Two Are Alike

We have our first winter snowstorm here in Pennsylvania. So, today I'm thinking about snowmen!! 

Many folks on Pinterest have been posting really cute snowman ideas. So, I expanded on them and created a self-esteem small support group session for second graders. However, this idea could be adapted and used in any elementary classroom.

First, I purchased some snowflake cutouts and fadeless construction paper at my local Becker's School Supplies. Although their fadeless construction paper is not as thick as I would like, I always use fadeless for my projects. If I'm going to spend all this time making something, I want the color to last! Make sure the snowflake cutouts you purchase are different designs. Next, I purchased any other supplies I didn't have at A.C.Moore and Michaels. A great purchase was the transparent thread (to make the hanging snowflakes look like they are just falling from the ceiling).

Next, I made the poster and added the words: No Two Are Alike at the bottom (created using Word).

Prior to the group session, I created 3 - 6 inch or so snowflakes for each student in the group using Word. On each snowflake, I added one of the following:
     My name is
     I'm good at
     I'm not so good at
I would suggest printing and cutting each of these out ahead of time -- to save precious minutes during the group session.

During the group session, I first read the book: No Two Alike by Keith Baxter. As we read Baxter's book and his examples of creatures and things that are not alike, we discussed how each of us is unique - one of a kind. We discussed how each of us has strengths (things we do well) and weaknesses (things we don't do well).

Then, I handed out the pre-cut snowflakes I created prior. I had the students complete the statements I added to each of the snowflakes. They could use words and/or pictures. If they used pictures, I labeled each picture on the snowflake.

Finally, I punched holes in all of the snowflakes, tied on the transparent thread, lugged the ladder down the hall, and hung up the poster and snowflakes in the hallway.

An adorable winter scene!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Where is the school counselor?

After being inspired by Danielle Schultz's School Counselor Blog, I decided that I needed to have one of my very own Where is the school counselor? wheels!

Using foamboard for the background (I wanted something that would stand the test of time), I drew and cutout a half circle using an Exacto knife. It's a fairly large piece...about 2 feet in diameter. Next, I divided up the half circle into equal segments. Using various designs of educational scrapbooking paper/cardstock, I cut out the pieces of the pie and stuck them onto the foamboard (using a lot of scrapbooking doublestick adhesive). On my computer I inserted a circle shape in a word document and played around with the circle size until I found a size that worked on the wheel. I copied and pasted several, added text to each one (naming the locations I decided on), cut them out, and stuck them onto the wheel. Last, I used some more scrapbooking cardstock to create the pointer. I cut out a double layer of the pointer I drew and then used a brad to attach it to the wheel. Here it is...

Considering I feel like I'm running a marathon everyday, I'm doing my best at remembering to move the pointer every time I leave our office. Usually I head off in one direction in the school and end up making multiple other stops before returning to our I move the pointer to where I plan on going first!! When I forget, students who are walking by our room will move it for me...they'll take a peek in the office and if I'm not in there (when the pointer says that I am), they take a guess and figure I'm either "working with students" or "visiting a classroom." So funny!!