Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Using Target Dollar Spot Items in Your School Counseling Program

The Target dollar spot is a gold mine for school counselors!  I'm always on the lookout for fun, interactive items to add to my school counseling program. Target always seems to hit the mark! Since my school budget is next to zero, I appreciate finding high quality items for a reasonable price. In addition to lower prices, I love that Target changes its merchandise frequently. This has given me the opportunity to update some of my older lessons and helps me avoid falling into a rut of doing the same old things over and over again.

I frequently use hooks or props in my school counseling program. A prop is an object that is introduced in a lesson that illustrates an important point or concept. Incorporating props in your school counseling setting can increase student engagement and can be a valuable resource in helping to add enthusiasm. The pressure to keep students attention is a daily struggle and can feel overwhelming, especially this time of the school year! It's amazing how small trinkets or props can make a huge impact with classroom lessons and individual/group counseling sessions. Here are 3 easy examples of using props from the dollar spot in your school counseling program.

Items bought at Target dollar spot

There were so many fun things to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down! I loved ALL the bright, colorful items. My office is quite small, so I try to be really selective regarding what things I bring into my work space.


These colorful ice cubes come in a bag of 12 cubes for $1. The "Cool Down Cubes" have become a great interactive activity for my students.  My students have related well to the concept of completing a calming strategy to "cool down" when having negative feelings. You can write calming strategies on each ice cube or CLICK HERE for this FREE download. Place ice cubes in bucket, have students pull out one ice cube at a time and complete the calming strategy listed. 


These "Stay Cool" drink coasters complemented the "Cool Down Cubes" perfectly! They come in a package of four coasters for $1. This activity brings good discussion of a variety of different calming strategies students can use when feeling anxious, angry or stressed. CLICK HERE for this free download. Cut out calming strategy circles and glue on back of coasters. Play like the game of Memory.  The student with the most matches, wins the game.


I have a soft spot for anything thing lemon related! How fun are these decorative lemon tags?? They come in a package of four for $1. I spend a lot of my time helping students reframe their fixed mindset to a growth mindset. CLICK HERE for a free download of this activity. Cut out circles and glue on back of lemon tags. Place lemon tags in cup. Students take turns pulling out lemon tags and reframe fixed "sour lemon" mindset statements to a positive "sweet lemonade"growth mindset statements.

Adding props to your school counseling program gives you a chance to have fun and be creative! Dollar spot items are an easy way to help increase student engagement and help make your lessons more memorable. Want to read more about using props in school counseling? I wrote an article for Confident Counselors on this subject.  CLICK HERE for more details.

What fun things do you use in your school counseling program?

Monday, July 10, 2017

3 Easy Ideas to Help School Counselors Learn Students Names

In elementary school, I was a very shy and quiet student.  I didn't like to stand out and I only participated in class when called on by my teacher.  I would say the majority of my elementary school years I felt invisible.  It wasn't until the fifth grade that I felt like my teacher really "got" me. My teacher, Mr. Bellon, invested his time and energy to develop a strong relationship with ALL his students. Every member of his class felt valued and appreciated. To this day (25+ years later), my heart is filled with such gratitude when thinking about him and the impact he had on my life.

School Counselors have A LOT of students.  It is difficult to know and memorize the names of every student at school.  At the end of my first year on the job, I thought back and reflected on who were the students that made it EASY for me to to remember their name? They were the students assigned to my caseload, the ones who raised their hand after every question asked, the ones with behavior challenging issues, and the ones who went out of their way to engage with me on a regular basis. Due to the large number of students at school, it's easy for the quiet and shy students to fly under the radar. Since my first year on the job, I have made it my goal to seek out those students and to do my best to get them engaged in my classroom lessons and to develop a positive connection with them. Although it may be unrealistic to know every student's name, here are 3 EASY IDEAS that can help with name recognition for the beginning of the school year.

1. Class List With Individual Pictures and Names: At the beginning of each school year, I print a list of every class which includes each student's picture and name.  When teaching classroom lessons, I pull out that particular class list and refer to it often as a way to help me memorize student's names. This has been a useful method to learn their names quickly and helps me avoid calling on my students like...."You, in the back with the blue shirt!"

2The Name Game:  Have the class sit in a large circle. Tell the students you want them to pair an adjective that starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name. Example: Joyful Jodi. One person starts by saying..."I'm joyful Jodi."Then, the student to their right goes next and says "This is Joyful Jodi, and I'm Rockin' Rachel." Then it's the third person's turn and he/she has to name the two prior students and so on around the circle. The last person has to see if he/she can remember the name of every class member. With younger aged students, I like to do the same type of game but use animals that start with their first initial of their name. Example: Jaguar Jodi, Rhino Rachel etc.

3. Name Tags:  The BIGGEST help for me to learn my student's names is having name tags. The first lesson of every year, I have students pick out a name tag that best resembles them.  I have them color and personalize their own name tag. I have my students place their name tags on their desk during my classroom lessons. When my lesson is over, they store their name tags in their desks until my next lesson.

This FREE download includes 30 different Name Tags from which students can select.

I would LOVE for you to use these editable name tags at your school as a way to help you get to know the names of your students. Click HERE to snag these name tags from my TpT store for FREE! Comment below any ideas you have found useful at your school for name recognition.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Turn to Talk Cards

Last week I came home from school exhausted! My school went from a year round schedule to a traditional schedule.  This has had a HUGE impact on the behavior of my students.  Being on a year round schedule, students were never off track too long to forget about classroom procedures. After having the whole summer off, it has been a difficult transition back! I have never had so many classes with issues of blurting out and not listening. In one 2nd grade classroom, I noticed I had two extreme examples. I had a handful of students blurting out whatever came to mind and a handful of students that didn't say a word. I wanted that to change! So, I created these My Turn to Talk Cards to help teach the skill of self-control.  In addition, the cards serve as a visual reminder to me of which students need to be called on and invited to participate more in my lesson.  After using these cards, I noticed a HUGE difference in the reduction of blurt outs. When having to turn over a card, my students wanted to make their comment count so they really thought about what they wanted to say before speaking.

Here's how it works-

I give each student 2 cards for my 30 minute counselor lesson.  When a student answers a question or makes a comment, they turn their card over (or they hand it to me) indicating they've had a turn to talk.  If a student blurts out, I have them give me one of their cards. This helps them stop and think the NEXT time they are tempted to blurt out.

Before each lesson, I always comment about how as a class, we are practicing taking turns TALKING and taking turns LISTENING. When students have all their cards turned over, their turn to talk is over and it is now their turn to be good listeners. I don't use these cards in every classroom. I use these cards mainly in the classes that need reinforcement in this area.

This product can be found for $1.00 in my TpT store.  These cards come in color, ink friendly color, and black and white versions. Click HERE to see more details.

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Helping Students Transition to a New School

I'm so EXCITED to be joining Heather Thomas The Helpful Counselor in her Blog Hop on Fun Ways to Welcome New Students to Your School! Transitioning to a new school can be overwhelming to students. Helping students feel comfortable in a new environment can help reduce anxiety and worry.  I work at a school where a lot of new construction is being built. Newly developed neighborhoods bring a lot of brand new students! Last year, it seemed we were getting new students EVERY week.

Meeting and reaching out to new students can make a HUGE impact. It shows them you care and that you are interested in their well-being.  To help students become more comfortable at my school, I created a New Student Brochure.

 I included a boy and girl version

I do my best to meet with every new student within the first few of days of their enrollment. I like to introduce them to a couple of students in their class and have them take the new student around to complete The New Student Bingo.  This gives the new student an opportunity to spend some time with their classmates and learn the layout of the school. Once all 9 squares have an X, they come back to my office for a small treat.

Parents are almost as anxious about a new school as their child. I have received a lot of positive feedback from parents emailing me and expressing their appreciation in helping their child feel accepted and welcome at their new school.

***If you would like a FREE copy of this New Student Brochure click HERE to download.***

I can't wait to read other school counselor blogs in the Blog Hop to see what great ideas they have that I can incorporate in my school counseling program! Click HERE to see other fun ideas!

 Fun Ways to Welcome New Students

Happy New School Year!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Counselor eBook

I am always on the hunt for professional and engaging counseling resources. Rebecca Atkins from Counselor Up has made it easy to find hundreds of counseling resources in one spot! 22 Counselors from all over the world have joined together to create a Counselors of TPT eBook.  The best news is each page has a FREEBIE to share! That is 22 counseling resources to add to your bag of tricks.
Click Here to Download eBook

The eBook has 22 pages to introduce each counselor.
 Here is my page:

Click Here to go to my TPT Store

A HUGE Back to School sale starts tomorrow on TpT. The sale is 28% off EVERYTHING!  So, if you are in need of fun, engaging lessons...go as fast as you can to check out these amazing counselor's TpT stores.
Click on Links:
Counselor Up
Mental Fills
Speckled Moose Counseling
Social Emotional Workshop
Counselor Keri
Savvy School Counselor
The Counseling Teacher Brandy Thompson
Carol Miller- The Middle School Counselor
The Helpful Counselor
School Counseling Files
School Counseling is Magical
Counselor Corner
Yanique Chambers
EduKate and Inspire
Life on the Fly Counselor
Robin Zorn-The Georgia School Counselor
Counselor Traci R Brown
Cheerful Counseling
Mrs Bell the Crafty Counselor
Little Miss Counselor
Cheerful Counseling
Bilingual Learner
Whimsy in School Counseling
The DIY Counselor

The first day of August is when I start to get into panic mode about the upcoming school year. I'm so happy to have so many resources to choose from to help make my year less stressful and more productive!

I hope you all enjoy the last few days left of summer!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Invest in Relationships With Others

Having been a School Counselor for 10 years, I've had the opportunity of working at several different schools.  I have found the secret to a positive work environment is taking the time to invest in relationships with others. We spend a lot of time at work! So, building positive relationships helps make the workplace a fun place to be. Throughout the school year, I try to do little things to show support and care to those I work with.  My school recently went through a boundary change, so there will be a lot of new staff changes this upcoming year.

A few years ago, I created a questionnaire as a way to get to know people better in a short amount of time.  It was soooo helpful! It gave me the chance to see things I had in common with others and it gave me topics to discuss around the water cooler or at lunch. With all the changes at my school, I'm planning on doing this again.

I found mini TAKE 5 candy bars at Target. They were 3 bags for $10.00. Each bag had 14 candy bars in it....which makes each candy bar less than 25 cents each! When I go to each classroom for my counselor lesson, I plan to ask the Teacher to TAKE 5 minutes to fill out this questionnaire and give them a candy bar for a small treat.
If you would like to do this at your school, I have made this a FREE DOWNLOAD. I made individual tags for mini candy bars. In addition, I also included a large sign if you wish to have a bowl of candy bars to leave in the faculty room.
Click here to download. 

Some of my best friends are my coworkers. Putting the effort in developing positive relationships can make the biggest difference. School Counselors deal with heavy subjects. Having a positive relationship with others sure makes it easier to be approached when difficult things come up.

What things do you do at your school to help foster positive relationships with others? Comment below, I would love to hear!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kindness Challenge

Working at a year round school has its challenges.  One issue that happens frequently is kids getting on each other's nerves by the end of the school year.  My list of friendship problems seems to TRIPLE the last month of school. So, in an attempt to avoid this problem last year, I came up with The Kindness Challenge Brochure. I wanted my students to be aware of this issue and make a concentrated effort to promote kindness at school.  It ended up being a big hit! I did this with my 3rd-6th grade students.   
The Challenge...
Each student received their own black and white copy of the Kindness Brochure to color and personalize. The challenge was for students to complete all 16 squares of Be A Friend Bingo. Once each activity was completed, students could mark that square with an X.  Before returning it to me, each student was expected to summarize the brochure with their parent(s)/guardian and get a signature. I really wanted this activity to generate some good conversation about positive things that were happening at school. Once signed, students could turn in their brochure to me and receive a small prize. 

What I LOVED most about this activity was watching and hearing stories of kind acts.  I received several reports from teachers of positive acts of friendship taking place in their classrooms and out at recess.  I passed out approximately 455 brochures.  I received 327 back.  When I stopped to think about it.....327(students) x 16(squares) = 5,232 ACTS OF KINDNESS. That totally blew me away!! As I was wrapping up this lesson, I had several students ask if we could do the challenge again next year! That made my whole day! So, I think I will add a sequel to The Kindness Challenge for the upcoming school year. 

Example of Completed Kindness Brochure

This activity can be found here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. What activities do you do at your school to promote kindness? I would love to hear! Please comment below.