How to Explain Red Ribbon Week to Our Little Guys

I struggle each year with a creative way to explain Red Ribbon Week to my younger preschool and elementary-aged students. I don’t think this community of children need to hear the repeated “Don’t Do Drugs” mantra. It just doesn’t make much sense to them. In fact, I didn’t even buy red ribbons for my students this year. 

GASP! I know. What a terrible, terrible counselor. But I’ll be honest. I wanted a more meaningful activity. One that they might actually remember and keep as a momento. Not a red ribbon that will be splattered with ketchup and mud in 4 minutes, fall off before lunch, and find stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe on their way out to carpool. 

How To Explain RRW to Young Students

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What Does Self-Respect Have To Do With Group Norms?

This year I became an adivsor for our middle school boys. I know it sounds crazy, but as a school counselor in a PreK-8th grade school, I hadn’t been permitted to work with our middle school students until this year. Remember it’s a year of change and I LOVE CHANGE! Continue reading →

My World of Colorful Feelings

More change happened for me yesterday . . . not a major change, unless you considering buying a new book major change.

I bought, Puzzle Pieces: Classroom Guidance Collection, a collection of character education lessons for K-5. I was looking to add some extra lessons into my 2nd grade repertoire before I began with my Connecting With Others lessons (my modified lessons from this book can be found here, here, here, and here). I figured before we start focusing on personal space, empathy, and caring, we should probably begin talking about different feelings and things that make us feel different ways. Puzzle Pieces has a great (well the verdict is still out . . . I’ve only done one lesson, which was great) unit on feelings. Continue reading →

I’m Listening

I think a while back I promised I would write up some awesome lessons from Connecting With Others: Lessons for Teaching Social and Emotional Competence. And somehow with everything going on, I forgot!

I began 2nd grade using Skill Area 4 of the program, Communication Skills. Continue reading →

Self-Esteem Quilt

There are so many things that have surprised me about counseling this year. How often I’m needed, how much the boys love coming to me, how many times the boys can tell me they’ve had lunch bunch, how many times I see boys doing exactly what my textbooks told me they’d be doing, how often I’d actually have parents thanking me . . . I could probably write an entire post about all the things that have surprised me.

But NOTHING surprised me more than the amount of boys I’ve seen who struggle with self-esteem issues. I thought this was primarily a “girl” issue. Yes, I know  . . . way to be sexist, way to hold misconceptions, way to totally miss that by 3rd grade (even though I spent most of my teaching years in this grade) boys are becoming hard on themselves, embarrassed by most things, insecure about their decisions, the list goes on! I’m ashamed to even admit it. Continue reading →

Partly Cloudy

I have to give credit where credit’s due. I got this lesson from Marissa over at elemetaryschoolcounseling.org. But, since I always put my own little twist into things, I figured I’d write up how it went over here at our all boys’ school!

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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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