Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Masters in Counseling Website

I was excited to receive an email from "Masters in Counseling" requesting permission to post my blog on their website, along with SO many other great counseling websites! WHAT AN HONOR! If you are looking for great information on school counseling, please check out the Masters in Counseling website by clicking this link!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Different Perspectives and Showing Empathy

"How Do I Stand in Your Shoes?"

The purpose of this lesson is to teach children the importance of taking the perspective of others and showing empathy. I always love to have fun when teaching my little ones and I thought I would try a new method of presenting my lesson through Prezi, which is a cool and updated version of a slide show. You can insert videos, pictures, etc. just like a slideshow you would present through PowerPoint; however, Prezi offers a little more pizzazz! 

My Prezi Slide Show on Empathy

I hope you enjoy using the Prezi slide show I created in your classroom! 

To start the lesson, we looked at several pictures that could be looked at in different ways. Here are just a few…

Old or Young Woman?

Do you see a landscape or a baby? 

 Which one is right?

The kids had a blast discussing these pictures! It was also a lot of fun to hear their different perspectives and thoughts about each picture.


This video is a fun way to discuss the word "empathy". Although it's a Sesame Street video, my 4th grade students even got a kick out of it.


If you have not seen the "Wilting Rose" by YouthLight, Inc., go to this link. I would highly recommend purchasing it for your counseling program. It can be used in many different ways. I used it in this lesson to practice our "empathy" techniques. 

To start the activity, I began bullying the rose and telling it, "You stink!", "You're an ugly color!", "Nobody wants you!", etc. Each time I said something negative, I would make the flower wilt. (It's a "magic" rose, so the kids are totally amazed when it droops!) We talked about how the rose feels just by looking at its body structure. This is a great opportunity to discuss body language and watching other people's reactions to know how to respond to their feelings. We discussed ways we could show it empathy and how using our positive words would make it feel better. Therefore, the kids started giving examples of how to make the rose feel better. They would say things like, "You're beautiful!", "You smell nice!", "I like your color.", etc. Every time the kids would say something nice, the flower would perk up. The kids LOVED this activity!
After our empathy activity, I read the book "How Do I Stand in Your Shoes?" by Susan DeBell. This is a great book to read with the younger students; however, for my older students, I read, "Stand in My Shoes" by Bob Sornson.


We created a circle and put our feet in the middle. We talked about our shoes and how they are all unique and different, just like each one of us. We also talked about how each person has a special story. It's called their "Life Story". We discuss the importance of their "Life Stories" and how equally important it is to show empathy to each other's life story because we never know what someone is going through.
I brought in different shoes from home and gave each one a character. For example, I would hold up one of the shoes and say something like, "This one belongs to the janitor of a school and each day the kids at his school would show disrespect by throwing paper on the floor and not picking up after themselves. Were those kids showing 'empathy' to their janitor? What are some ways the kids could show their janitor 'empathy'?" This gave students the opportunity to see things from another person's perspective. It also gave them another avenue to practice their empathy skills. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sometimes It Just Takes ONE! 

The purpose of this lesson is teach children how to be an "upstander" in a bullying situation.
I started the lesson by drawing this diagram on the board. We talked about how Bullying can involve many people and how we can go from being a Bystander to an Upstander!

After discussing the diagram, I showed my students this quick video created by The NED Show! If you have not had The NED Show visit your school, you are missing a real treat! This show is entertaining and fun and it teaches students to Never give up, Do your best, and Encourage others. The presenter teaches this message through magic tricks, student participation, yo-yo tricks and pep talks.  
For more information about The NED Show, click here.

For a FREE copy of The NED Show's lesson plan guide that goes along with the video I posted, click here. 

After watching the video and discussing the steps to being an upstander, I read the book, "One" by Kathryn Otoshi. If you have not read this book to your kids, yet, it's a must! Every single class that I read this book to stay glued to it until it was over. If you do not have a access to this book, you can also watch the video of Kathryn Otoshi reading it to an audience as students reenact the book.  VERY CUTE!

To end the lesson, we played "Bully Bingo" that our school purchased with counseling funds.

If you are interested in purchasing a pack of 30 Bully Bingo cards like the one above for your school, the cost is only $17.95. Here is the link to order your set. 

I let the students use "Smarties" to cover up their spaces on the Bingo board. Once the game was over, the students were able to eat their "Smarties" as their prize for listening, participating and for working on their "upstanding" qualities!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Positive Words + Positive Actions = KINDNESS

Preparation for World Kindness Week

World Kindness Week is set for November 11th-15th this year, and World Kindness Day will be held during that week on November 13th. Although kindness is something that should be demonstrated throughout the year, we are ultimately preparing our hearts and minds for World Kindness Week as we focus on this subject for our school. I hope you find this lesson helpful and useful to your counseling program. Thanks for letting me share!

Since most kids can identify with action figures or super heroes, I chose to show a familiar character to my students to open the lesson on kindness. We talked about the "Hulk's" appearance and some of the  characteristics he possessed. My intentions were to have the students discuss his muscles and strength, and then we talked about how we don't have to have muscles and super strengths to destroy or hurt people. Then, I asked the students to answer a couple of riddles for me. 


What is a part of our body that has no bones but can be broken?

What is a part of our body that contains muscles but has no bones and can be used to break something?


To review, I reminded students of the lesson we had last year on speaking kindly to others. I used the book "Chrysanthemum" and also the "toothpaste lesson" to help students grasp this concept. You can find my lesson on speaking kindly, here. 


I chose to read, "The Giving Tree" to my students this year since it is one of my all time favorite books. It depicts the true spirit of giving. The tree gives and gives to the "boy", and never expects anything in return. After reading this book, we discuss TRUE acts of kindness and doing things to make others feel good and happy without expecting anything in return.

Best. Short Movie. EVER!

If you have not seen this video before now, YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT! I found it through that lovely word we call "Pinterest", and it's a keeper! Although it's only 5 minutes long and contains no words, the message is powerful! My students never took their eyes off of the video because they didn't want to miss what was going to happen next.

The Boomerang Effect

I talked with the class about a boomerang and the cool part of it coming back to you after you throw it. Ultimately that is what happened in the video. The acts of kindness the man showed at the beginning of the video cam be back to him full circle at the end. Isn't it great when that happens?!? 


To practice our kind actions and words of encouragement, we gave a classmate a "Pat on the Back"! (I used a piece of contact paper and cut out a hand print and wrote the kind words from the students on each finger.) This idea was modified from Mrs. Giglio's Kindergarten Class Blog Spot. Thanks for the great idea! The kids loved it - especially the student who was receiving the "Pat on the Back"! 
Mary Elizabeth said that all of the responses that were given by her classmates made her feel great and special. Mary Elizabeth was given the choice of either wearing the "Pat on the Back" around school or having it put on a piece of paper as a keepsake. She chose to put it on a piece of paper. ;-)


Each student had the opportunity to do the same thing for another classmate, except we called it giving each other "High Fives". I gave each student a piece of paper and asked the class to trace their hand on to the piece of paper I gave them, and then I came around to each person and secretly gave them the name of a student in their class. Their job was to write the student's name in the palm of the hand they had drawn and then write 5 kind things about that person on each finger. When they were done, they gave their paper to the person they wrote about, and all I can say is there were smiles all over the room.


Examples of some of my students' work

For more information and ideas on kindness, please visit THIS AWESOME SITE!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hands On - Hands Off

Drug Free Lesson for PreK and Kindergarten

To start the lesson, we talked about what Red Ribbon Week stands for and why we celebrate this special event. We discuss ways to keep our body healthy. We also talk about the importance of having drug free bodies. Since most young students aren't sure what drugs and alcohol are, we talk about how drugs and alcohol are like poison to the body. It can make you sick and can hurt you. 
I showed this short film about poison so that students could understand what "poison" meant incase there were still any doubts or confusion. I liked the way this video talked about how some things look safe or look like other things and that it's always important to ask first! I would highly recommend this video. The kids loved it and were singing the chorus at the end with the characters. 

Hands On/Hands Off Oral Assessment

To assess students' knowledge of what is safe and what is necessary to ask first before touching, I played a game called "Hands On! - Hands Off!" The red hand represented the color of a stop sign; therefore, that was our "Hands Off (or Stop and Ask First) Bucket." The green hand represented the color of a green traffic light which stood for "Hands On (or GO ahead and touch it - It's safe!)" Something that was a REAL EYE OPENER for me was that most kids thought the itch cream was toothpaste and they thought the sunscreen block was lipstick - This was confirmation to me that this lesson was utmost important for my little ones since some things are bottled or packaged the same way and they thought it was "safe". 

 Speaking of "Hands Off" and Being Healthy…

Since Halloween is right around the corner and we were talking about keeping our "Hands Off" of things, I chose to introduce the "Booger Ghost" to my young kids and we talked about keeping our hands out of our nose and hands off of our "boogers". I chose to read, "I am a Booger… Treat Me with Respect." Oh yeah… it's a real book and it's real gross, but it was also REAL NECESSARY (if you know what I mean)!
The kids were seriously all about this book and listened to it intensely! I hope this will stop some of the "booger issues" we are having in our classrooms since some of our students have been getting sick due to the change in weather and winter months approaching. 
Yes… it's totally gross, but if you want to throw this in just for fun, they sell this candy at Target during Halloween and this could go in your "Hands Off" Bucket!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week 2013

All I can say is, "WOW!" What a wonderful Red Ribbon Week we had at Gulf Shores Elementary School! Here are just a few things we did this week that I will be discussing in my long overdue blog!
  • Dress Out Days
  • Estimation Jar with Drug Free items
  • "Pennies for Puppies" Collection
  • Drug Free Photo Booth
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Instagram Account


MONDAY - "Band Together Against Drugs"(Everyone wore red bandanas with a white shirt and jeans.)
TUESDAY - "Join the Fight Against Drugs" (Everyone wore their camouflage.) 
WEDNESDAY - "Our Future is Too Bright to Use Drugs" (Everyone wore yellow shirts and their sunglasses.)
THURSDAY - "Team Up Against Drugs" (Everyone wore their favorite team colors.)
FRIDAY - "Proud To Be Drug Free" (Everyone wore red.)


Each day there were different "Drug Free" items in the Estimation Jar. Some of the items included; tattoos, mints, suckers, rubber ducks, pens/pencils, etc. Each class turned in their class guess every day  by 1:30, and the class that guessed the correct number of items or the closest won the prizes in the Estimation Jar and they received recognition over the intercom each morning for being the winners!


"Pennies for Puppies" is a campaign that partners with Baldwin County Schools, and it's goal is to raise money for the purchase of a new dog for the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office. The hope is to raise $14,000, which is about what it would cost to purchase a new dog that can help with drug investigations. 
Since Alabama and Auburn football teams are the biggest rivals in the state of Alabama, we decided to make the campaign a little fun by adding some competition to it. Each day, students had a choice to put their money in either the Alabama jug or the Auburn jug. Each day we announced who won the competition for that day. Auburn won two days and Alabama won three days out of the week. Together, Auburn and Alabama fans raised $427.00! Way to go, Gulf Shores Elementary School!


I must say, this was probably the biggest hit of all for the week! We had our first "Drug Free Scavenger Hunt" at Gulf Shores Elementary School, and the kids loved it! Each teacher had a bag, which included; directions with a post-it note, a piece of chalk, a set of QR code clues and a set of Red Ribbon pledge stickers. 

The scavenger hunt took them to several locations! Here were the places each class had to visit; 

1. My Mailbox

Together, each class had to think of a different "dress out" day for next year during Red Ribbon Week. The class wrote their ideas on the post-it note I provided and stuck it in my mailbox. We received MANY GREAT IDEAS from each class! The 2013 Red Ribbon Leader and our school principal will use the ideas that were given during the scavenger hunt to create our "dress out" days for next year! 

2. Red Ribbon Wall

The next stop at their scavenger hunt was the "Drug Free Pledge Wall". Each student took their sticker they had signed in class and placed it on the wall to pledge they would live a drug free life!

3. Drug Free Photo Booth

The third place students went on their scavenger hunt was the "Drug Free Photo Booth". The backdrop was provided, as well as, silly glasses and photo booth props. 

4. Drug Free Chalk Message

For their fourth stop, each class was asked to write a drug free message somewhere on the sidewalk for others to see! Each message was different and unique and you could find these messages all over our school property on the sidewalks!
Mrs. Altmyer's Class left a Spanish "Drug Free Message" for our Spanish speaking population!

5. Open the Locker and You Get a Prize

For the fifth and final clue, students were asked to walk to the middle school (which is right next door) and find locker number 503. They were given the combination and when they opened it, they found their surprise, which were their red, drug free bracelets. 


We set up a Red Ribbon Instagram Account for our parents and community to see how we celebrated the week! If you'd like to see our pictures, look us up on Instagram by searching "RRWeek". 

Ms. Waggoner and I "mustache" you a question! 

Are you drug free? ...It's the way to be! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Listen Up!

Now that I've got to know the kids a little better and we have started our year off with being "Bucket Fillers", our next lesson focused on the students using their listening ears! We talked about the importance of hearing vs. listening and REALLY paying attention to detail and following instructions.

Listening Activities:

I always like to start the lesson off with some type of "attention grabber"; therefore, I used a ball to help me with this task. During my first lesson of the year when I was getting to know each class, the students had to show me their good listening ears by closing their eyes and listening for the number of times I bounced the ball. Therefore, the students were familiar with the bouncy ball I brought to class previously; however, this time, the question was different and I explained to the kids that their job was to pay close attention, watch and listen. Before I bounced the ball, I coughed really loud... (I mean REALLY, obnoxiously loud)!!! As the kids watched and listened, most of them were counting or focusing on the number of bounces. When I finished bouncing the ball, most of them immediately raised their hand (thinking they already knew the answer); however, when I asked the students, "What did I do right before I bounced the ball?", some of their hands went down. Usually there is one student in the crowd that picked up on what I did before bouncing the ball, and then that opens up the floor for us to discuss paying close attention when listening to others so that we don't miss any important details.

 Lego Listening Game:

This is a listening game I've read about in a professional learning book and I've also seen it on one of my personal favorites... PINTEREST! :) For more information about this listening game, please see my previous post by clicking here.
I read, "The Worst Day of My Life Ever!" to my 1st-4th graders, and I read the book "Listen Buddy" with my PreK and Kindergarten students to go along with my lesson on listening. Both books discuss the importance of listening and following directions.  

Follow Up Listening Activities:

So... today I went to a workshop and the presenter TOTALY fooled me with this game! He first asked the crowd if we had ever heard of the game "Simon says", and of course everyone nodded in agreement. Next he tells us, "We are going to play a quick game of Simon Says... I need everyone to stand up." Of course, ALMOST EVERYONE falls for it and stands up. There were only two people that got it and didn't stand up... because SIMON DIDN'T SAY TO STAND UP! Ugh... how dumb did I feel?!? I am SO going to do this quick/fun little activity with my lesson come Monday as an extra activity!

End of the lesson Game:

This is a listening activity that I bought from The Sublime Speech Website and used last year; however, I changed it up a bit this year using technology and the latest QR craze!
 I always separate the class in to two teams. Each member of the team selects a card from the bucket that has directions on it. The student that pulls the card has to follow the directions exactly as they are given to receive a point for their team. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.
Students had the opportunity to choose QR cards I made instead of the red cards. These were considered the harder ones because the computer reads them instead of me and sometimes she reads the directions fast! This was my way of using a great idea that the Sublime Speech Website had to fit my own personal needs and to incorporate technology. This also gave me a chance to change things up a bit from last year. If you'd like a copy of the QR (following direction) cards I made to go along with this lesson, please click here.