Tuesday, July 08, 2014

ASCA14 Highlights - Fun Find - Tacky Box

I just returned from my second ASCA Annual Conference with much to share with all of you. I will be writing about my ASCA14 Highlights: Fun Finds and Professional Learnings. Today, a Fun Find!

For anyone who loves shopping, walking through the ASCA Exhibit Hall is like a professional dream come true. Exhibit Hall is a place to make personal connections, get all kinds of resources and information, some free office supply stuff to use over the next school year, some fantastic stress ball freebies, and of course some amazing materials to use with students.

During my first trip through Exhibit Hall, I was drawn to this booth (on right). I was so glad that Chris posted this picture on her Tacky Box Facebook Page so I could show all of you what I saw as I walked by! As you can see, Chris and Cindy displayed a whole bunch of "Tacky Word" posters that caught my attention...I couldn't help but stop by! The words on the posters were words that I hear daily - either at school, in the community, or with my nieces/nephews.

So, I got involved in a fantastic conversation about the background story of the book that Chris Kent Phelps and Cindy Kent (her mom and book illustrator) wrote: Margo's Magnificent Choice. Then I had the opportunity to hear how the "Tacky Box" came to be - a tool put into place in their family to put unkind (Tacky) words and actions to rest! After hearing "Tacky" words or seeing "Tacky" actions, they were written down on a slip of paper and placed in the "Tacky Box" - never to come out (or be used) again.

I think this is a simple yet ingenious way to take a step back and critically examine the words the children around us are using to tell others how they feel, as they attempt to join in social interactions, or as they communicate with their peers. The use of the word "Tacky" is incredibly clever in it's own right to help describe, in a very concrete/novel way, how unkind words and actions are perceived by others.

The Book: Margo's Magnificent Choice

The book is adorable - colorful illustrations and not too wordy. The message is easy to understand. In the book, Pete the Parrot repeats a lot of "Tacky" words. These are the words he hears other animals in the jungle say. Margo loves new words and thinks that the way to make new friends is by then repeating Pete's "Tacky" words when meeting new jungle friends. Unfortunately for Margo, she offends the animals she says the "Tacky" words to and they walk away leaving Margo all alone. Margo learns from Mr. Owl that it is important to choose the words we say, very carefully. He taught her to use kind words and not "Tacky" words in order to make and keep friends. Mr. Owl showed her how to write down the "Tacky" words she heard/used or "Tacky" actions she saw on small slips of paper to place them in the "Tacky Box" never to come out again! 

This book is written for young audiences - maybe K-2 - but the message could certainly be stretched to the upper elementary grades. There is a book written specifically for boys titled: Max's Magnificent Choice.

How will I use the Tacky Box and Book?

As a school counselor, I plan on reading the book and using the "Tacky Box" during core curriculum lessons in the primary grades. After the story, we will brainstorm "Tacky" words or actions they said, heard, or saw and write them on small slips of paper to put into the "Tacky Box." I would also highlight how our words and actions are a reflection of who we are inside and out. 

The book and "Tacky Box" could also be used in small group sessions for the younger kiddos when discussing words and actions used to make and keep friends, reputation, or feeling confident/proud of ourselves.

I want to reiterate, again, that this concept is "back to basics" - just what I think many of of our younger elementary students need. This set will help us, as school counselors, refocus our efforts on the the basics in building character - kind words/actions vs. unkind (tacky) words/actions - at a young age. This concept paired with any other pro-social skills lessons we do will be a fantastic start to helping our students build a kinder space around them.

Where can you find the Tacky Box and Margo's or Max's Book?

You can find Margo's Magnificent Choice, Max's Magnificent Choice and the Tacky Box on the Tacky Box Website. Don't forget to "Like" the Tacky Box Facebook Page



  1. Susan, Thanks for sharing this resource!! I wasn't able to go to ASCA14!!

  2. What a great take-off on the "worry box" idea. Thanks so much for sharing!