How Does Your Jellybean Feel Today?

Mine feels like it should be Friday . . . or summertime . . . or Friday during the summertime. Wishful thinking, right?

Well, sadly enough the Kinders saw Emotional Eugene for the last time last week. Surprisingly enough, they were SUPER excited to know who they were going to meet this week. I’m going to hold out on you . . . you will also find out in due time! Continue reading →

Moving From Bullies to Buddies

Do you recall when, ages ago, I attended the TCA conference? I still have 5 sessions that I REALLY wanted to share. I decided I’d share one of my favorites with you today. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll probably start using this lesson with my 3rd graders starting next week. And on another fact, I am presenting about this session at my Catholic Counselor’s Meeting Feb. 15th. Writing this post is probably going to help me get my thoughts for that presentation organized (or just emphasize how much more planning I need to do). Continue reading →

Not Your Average Name Tag

I’ve been doing a lot lately with helping the boys appreciate each other’s differences. I wanted to give them a chance to see some positive things about their classmates and communicate these through praise and compliments.

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And because I was on a lack of creativity, I called this lesson . . . . Continue reading →

Boundin

I can only take credit for 3/8ths of this idea. The other 5/8ths belong to Marissa at Elementary School Counseling.

I used this lesson for Kinders, 1st, and 2nd graders (pretty versatile). The Kinders got the second part during their small group Social Skills lessons, while 1st and 2nd graders got it during their bi-monthly guidance lesson.

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Continue reading →

Blah Beaters

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In Kindergarten, we have been doing a lot of talking about feelings. Feelings that make us feel good and some that make us feel, well, bad. This lesson is dedicated to a feeling us, adults, probably identify with often. Let’s play a game . . .

Oh, on that note, have I ever talked to you about my teaching philosophy? My motto/teaching philosophy came about one day when one of my Kindergarten teachers said to me, as I was picking up 5 incredibly hyped up Kindergarteners, “Whatever you do in there must be pretty fun.” And my exact response/motto/teaching philosophy was, “Any thing called a game is fun!” And off we went, momma duck and her 5 hyped up ducklings. So, am I right or am I right? Anyways back to the game I want to play with you. It’s called, “Guess what feeling I’m talking about.”

This feeling is not a happy feeling. But it’s not a sad feeling either. This feeling might make you want to watch a funny movie or just relax in bed. Any guesses?

It’s called “The Blahs.” Now, do you know what I’m talking about?

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Well, anyways Kindergarteners definitely don’t have a CLUE. So, I ended up talking about many times that I’ve felt the blahs. I pretty much described it like those days that you wake up and you just don’t feel like yourself, but you don’t really know what’s wrong. For Kindergarteners, this is probably the morning that they tell their parents that they don’t want to go to school when they are normally bounding around at 6am.

I had the boys try to identify times that they may have felt this way. I explained that normally we do not like feeling “the blahs.” So . . . what do we have to do? We have to find ways to beat the blahs, appropriately named “Blah Beaters.”

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Emotional Eugene beats the blahs by watching a funny movie that makes him laugh. We all pulled out our Thinking Mes and began brainstorming things we would like to do to beat the blahs.

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I made a big list on the board.

  • Playing outside
  • Eating a cookie
  • Talking to my mom
  • Playing video games
  • Watching T.V.
  • Fishing
  • Decorating the Christmas Tree
  • Playing in my room
  • Petting my dogs

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The activity asked them to decide on the best “Blah Beater” for them and draw it on the paper. Simple, yes, that simple.

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Oh, by the way, this is just another lesson adapted from the Jellybean Jamboree. How many copies of this book do you think I’ve sold? One of these days you will see a commercial of me with a Jellybean on a stick, smiling, and teaching Kindergarteners.

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Thanking Friends

. . . a 1st and 2nd grade approach to the “Tree of Thanks.”

Continuing with my goal of recognizing the GOOD things our friends do (and not just spending our time “tattling” on one another at recess), I took my Tree of Thanks lesson and adapted it for my 1st graders. They really (and I mean REALLY) liked it, so I actually did the exact same lesson with my 2nd graders (who also REALLY liked it).

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Thanking Friends

Topics Covered: Responsibility, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Respect, Communication Skills

I started my lesson off by reading a very, very, VERY old book that must have been passed down to me from someone else. The illustrations in the book are so old that color on them is really faded and one of the second graders was pretty sure it was a 3-D book and I was missing the glasses that went with it. By the looks of the cover I’m 110% positive it is not a 3-D book, but hey I’ll continue to look for those glasses just in case.

Anyways, the book is called That’s What Friends are For by Florence Parry Heide (to emphasize the oldness of my book, please note the differences in book covers – mine vs. Amazon’s). In the book, Theodore (an elephant) is trying to figure out how to visit his cousin on the other end of the forest, but he can’t walk because (somehow) he hurt his leg. Throughout the story, various friends come to give Theodore advice. Pretty much the book talks about how giving advice is nice, but a real friend is meant to help. The book ends by saying, “Friends should always help a friend. That’s what friends are for.”

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So after reading the story we talk about the kinds of things for which Theodore could thank his friends. Then, I pass out a slip of paper to each boy. It simply says, “Thank you ______________. You are a good friend because _________________.” Anonymously the boys are able to thank one friend for anything they would like. Just like the Tree of Thanks lesson, I had to explain to the boys that they needed to write a more detailed thank you than, “You are a good friend because you are nice/good/kind, etc.” Once the boys had written their thank yous, they folded it in half and gave it to me.

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Now here comes the fun! We all sat in a circle and passed a ball to one another. Each time the ball was passed the person would thank the other friend for something. Maybe not the best explanation . . . I admit . . . here’s an example:

Me: (I’m passing the ball to Johnny) Johnny, thank you for holding the door for me earlier today.

Johnny: You’re welcome, Miss LeBrasse. (Passing the ball to Sam). Sam, thank you for playing with me at recess.

Got the idea?

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So, once that round was over, we played one more round. Example:

Me: (I’m passing the ball to Paul) Paul, you are a good friend because you always listen to me when I’m teaching a lesson.

Paul: Thank you, Miss LeBrasse. (Passing the ball to Dave). Dave, you are a good friend because you helped me pick up my crayons when they fell on the floor.

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Once we had played the game twice, I passed out the folded thank yous. Now, here’s the deal, not every boy got one, but to me that was okay, because during the game they would have received 2 additional compliments. So, anyways, that’s how it went. I hope it doesn’t sound too complicated because it really wasn’t!

In fact, the boys were so quiet and intently listening during the game because they truly wanted to hear what their friends would thank them for (plus they really wanted to throw and catch that ball)! Give it a try and let me know how it works out! I’d be really curious!

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A Tree of Thanks

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am getting caught up! I’m about to share with you a lesson I did right before Thanksgiving! Thank goodness I’ve at least gotten out of my October lessons. But don’t fear you really could use this lesson at any time of the year, just change those leaves to green and a spring tree you’ll have!

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Special Places

This lesson allowed the 3rd grade boys a chance to think about a Special Place in their life. I adapted the lesson from an idea I saw on the Teaching Tolerance website.

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Special Places

Topics Covered: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Communication Skills, Self-Confidence Development, Decision-making

I started the lesson by reading the boys a book my mom gave to me my first year of teaching, The Forest Has Eyes by Elise Maclay and illustrations by Bev Doolittle.

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The Forest Has Eyes is a Native American poetry book that really helps illustrate the Native Americans’ passion for their land and animals. Through poems, the book illustrates a mountain man passing through Indian territory, a brave Native American boy searching for his animal guardian spirit, an Indian’s call for the buffalo spirit, and these are only a few among many other beautiful poems. Bev Doolittle is known for her exquisite paintings that camouflage hidden pictures into historically accurate artwork.

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So, while the boys were interested in the Native American stories, they were also mesmerized by the hidden pictures and stories in each illustration.

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After reading the book, we held a discussion about the important place the land and animals had in Native Americans’ hearts. I told them that during this lesson they were going to get to think about a place that held a special place in their hearts.

With all of the boys back at their seats, I handed out a blank sheet of paper. I never usually specify whether or not their name needs to be on it. The work we usually do is only to help the boys process, not normally a production piece.

I used Teaching Tolerance’s questions to guide our exploration.

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Once the boys had listed many places (based on the questions above), I had them choose just one that they could regard as their “Special Place.” I had them think about why this one place was more important than the rest and what this specific place says about them, as a person.

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Next, I had them flip their papers over (hopefully the back side was still blank, but with a room full of boys there was no telling . . luckily I had some extra sheets of paper) and on the back, I had them describe their special place to me through a drawing. They could do the drawing however they wished.

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This is how far I got with both of the 3rd grade classes. If I had some more time (which I always wish I had), I would have had the boys volunteer to show their drawings and explain what made this place more special than any other.

I think the reason this lesson was so powerful was because it gave them a chance to only think about their lives, what made their special place unique, and how lucky they were to have memories from this special place. I bet their parents would have been surprised to see just how simple their special places were, because let me tell you it wasn’t Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, or Italy.