The Creative Counselor | Sharing Creative Ways to Counsel Children
Welcome to The Creative Counselor. I started this blog to share creative ways to counsel children. I am an Elementary School Counselor in Lexington, South Carolina. I have been a school counselor since 1993 and received my National Board Certification in 2004. Recently I just renewed my National Board Certification in 2013! I love developing fun, creative ways for children to learn and share
Welcome to the land of Hollywood where the stars are bright and the STAR Problem Solvers walk the red carpet in victory. I created this lesson to help my students learn how to become STAR Problem Solvers.
The STAR acronym stands for Stop, Think, Act, and Review – a method to solving any problem.
The students start by solving Mystery Mix-Up Popsicle Stick Puzzles. To make the Popsicle Stick Puzzles, I printed Mystery Mix-up pictures and glued the picture on top of 6 fat popsicle sticks laid out in a square. Once dried, I cut the popsicle sticks with pictures on them apart and placed them in separate ziplock bags. After we use teamwork to problem-solve the Mystery Mix-ups, we discussed what teamwork skills they used to solve their puzzling problems. Here are two of our Mystery Mix-Up Puzzles:
Next I tell the students, “I am going to give you a 4-Step Method for solving any problem you will ever have! We can always remember these four steps because they spell the word STAR and I want you to be STAR problem solver.”
Our final activity had the students break back into groups to write their own STAR problem solving scripts and then they presented their scenes to the class. Here are a few of those scenes:
Everyone was a star in this fun lesson learning the STAR problem solving method. After completing the lesson, students were be able to: • Recognize the importance of making decisions. • Make simple decisions using a problem solving approach
What is included in this packet? 1. Be a STAR Problem Solver Lesson Plan (3 pages) 2. Be a STAR Problem Solver Power Point (17 slides) 3. 6 Mystery Mix-Up Popsicle Stick Puzzles (6 pages) 4. 6 Scene Work Scenarios (3 pages) 5. 6 STAR Problem Solver Script Worksheets (6 pages)
Learning to be a friend is an important skill and sometimes it is hard for students to understand how their behavior can impact their friendships. This lesson makes learning how to be a friend fun, exciting, and memorable! I like to dress up in a white lab coat, rubber gloves, and safety goggles on my head to get the kids excited about the lesson. Imagine the students’ faces when they find out we can do science experiments to explain friendship behavior!
I wanted to create a hands-on lesson that students would remember so I started with the concept of attractive & repelling friendship behaviors. I told a story about a new student with repelling behaviors. To model the reactions of students, the Repelling Pepper Experiment is demonstrated. See an example of this science experiment here. Next, I retold the story with a better outcome. To model the students’ reactions, the Attracting Pepper Experiment is demonstrated, See an example of this science experiment here.
Next we practiced labeling attractive and repelling behaviors through playing an interactive sort on the SMARTboard. If the behavior was attractive, it would stick to the magnet. If the behaviors were repelling, they would be repelled back!
Then students got physically involved and became Human Magnets. I placed a hula hoop on the ground and had a student stand in the center. 4 other students stood on the outside of the hula hoop. The student in the center read a scenario from a Magnet Manners Card. The students on the outside of the hula hoop stepped closer if the behavior was friendly, or they moved further away if the behavior was negative. Here are some of the Magnet Manners Cards:
What is included in this packet? 1. Science Behind Friendship Lesson Plan (4 pages) 2. Science Behind Friendship interactive SMARTBOARD NOTEBooK (9 slides) 3. Science Experiments Step by Step Directions (2 pages) 4. 24 Magnet Movement Cards (4 pages)
Not sure if you can do these science experiments? Sure you can! Watch these videos to see how easy it is!
Friendship is about respecting each others' differences. Julia Cook's book, The Judgmental Flower, is a great story to help students understand this concept.
I started our friendship lesson with students standing up if the sentence applied to them. Here are a few sentences I read: “If you have curly hair, stand up.” “If you like to dance, stand up.” “If you have freckles, stand up.”
After our opening activity, I read The Judgmental Flower. We discussed if it is OK to treat others who are not like us in a different or mean way, what we can do to be respectful towards others, and how communication helps us to understand each other.
We then practiced communicating by playing Find the Flower Game. On the board, I showed the students some flowers.
I then had a deck of cards with the same flowers. I picked a flower from the deck of cards and told the students they would have to communicate with me to figure out which flower I had chosen. Students would ask me questions about my flower and guess which number flower I had based on my answers. We discussed how communication is more than just talking, we have to be good listeners too!
For our next activity, the students had to find a petal pal to work with as a partner. I passed out flower cards and the students had to find their partner with the matching flower. Once they found their partner, they worked on communicating with each other to complete a Friendly Flower sheet.
After completion of the lesson, students were able to:
• Identify similarities and differences they have with their peers
• Understand that each individual is unique, and recognize our individual differences.
1. Growing Friendships with Flower Power Lesson Plan (3 pages) 2. Growing Friendships with Flower Power Slide Show (18 slides) 3. 15 Flower Cards (4 pages – print two sets for a total of 30 cards) 4. Friendly Flower Worksheet (1 page)
Teaching students personal safety has become such an important topic. While we used to teach "Stranger Danger" this might not be the best way to teach personal safety. Sometimes we have to ask strangers for help, so this lesson is designed to teach children to look for the dangers, remember our safety rules, and if you need help, look for a trusted adult such as moms with kids, workers with name tags, police officers, etc!
I started off the lesson with what does a stranger look like? How would you keep yourself safe from a stranger? Then I told the students I want them to put that aside and listen carefully as we talk about how to stay safe and not get caught by tricks! We then read Julia Cook’s book, Smarter than the SCOOPERS. After the lesson, we reviewed the safety rules presented in the book:
#1. “S - Smart: Be smart and confident, and trust your instincts. Listen to your “Uh Oh” voice.”
#2. “C - Call List: Always call first so that you make the right choice.”
#3. “O - zero Talking: Do not talk to grown-ups that you don’t know well. Look for the adults who can help. Those are moms with kids, workers with name tags, police officers, etc”
#4. “O - Out: Keep people out of your personal space.”
#5. “P - Pair Up: Always go places with a friend.”
Following a discussion about the book, we played Brain Freeze and practiced as a class identifying safe and unsafe situations while learning personal safety tips for very real situations. Here are some examples:
After we practiced as a class, we then broke into groups to discuss situations and decide what to do to stay safe.
I let the groups come back and share their ideas on staying safe so others would hear the situations and know what to do. Finally, students got to make a page corner bookmark to remember the SCOOP safety tips.
The most important thing that I want my students to know is that they have to be vigilant in evaluating situations and asking for help if they are not safe. Not all strangers are dangerous. Children need to know to look for the helpers when they are in need of an adult to help.
After completion of the lesson, students were able to: • Identify adults in which a student can seek help in an unsafe situation. • Identify safety strategies to be used when in an unsafe situation. • Demonstrate making personal safety choices.
1. The SCOOP on Personal Safety Lesson Plan (4 pages) 2. The SCOOP on Personal Safety Power Point Presentation (22 slides) 3. Sundae Situations - 6 color & 6 black/white (12 pages) 4. Page Corner SCOOPS – color & black/white (3 pages)
One of my teachers came to me and asked if I could do a lesson on respect in the classroom. I asked her for some examples of situations she saw students having and then came up with this lesson. I wanted students to get actively involved in a discussion about respect. I started the lesson with how respect looks differently in different settings, such as yelling at a football game is ok, but it is not ok to be yelling during a game in the classroom.
Then we talked about some other situations. Students gave thumbs up or thumbs down to show if they thought it was respectful or not. Here are a few:
Next we transformed the classroom into a courtroom. Based on the examples the teacher gave me, I wrote some court cases for the students to act out:
Case #1: The Case of the Talking Trick or Treaters - a case of not following the teacher's directions. Case #2: The Case of Cindy Ella - a case of not following school rules. Case #3: An Out of this World Case - a case of not paying attention to the lesson.
The remaining students, who were not acting out the case, became the jury as they decided - guilty or not guilty! The kids loved acting and we had some great discussion as to how to show respect in each case. The best part...I got in on the acting and dressed up as the judge (I pulled out my graduation robe and a gavel!)
To sum up the lesson, I let students work together to create a banner of respect. I gave partners one letter of the word "respect" and they would come up with a sentence about respect in the classroom. Here's my example:
After completion of the lesson, students were able to: • Identify how respect may look differently across different settings • Become familiar with ways to show kindness toward others • Establish a classroom culture of respect
What is included in this packet? 1. Respect in the Classroom Lesson Plan (3 pages) 2. Respect in the Classroom Interactive Power Point (35 slides) 3. 3 Respect in the Classroom Courtroom Cases’ Scripts (6 pages) 4. Guilty/Not Guilty Signs (2 pages) 5. RESPECT Activity (7 pages)
I love Pete the Cat books and I especially love the song that goes along with I love my White Shoes. It is such an upbeat, groovy song and I can't get it out of my head sometimes:) That's a good thing because it puts me in such a good mood and helps me keep a positive attitude!
That makes Pete the Cat one of my favorite, feel good lessons to teach my students. Have you ever had students who have a tough time going on with their day when things have gone wrong? Help them turn their frown upside down by having a "pawsitive cattitude!" We start off by talking about the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Unfortunately, everyday does not always go as we wish and sometimes we have to find ways to cope with hard days.
One way to cope with difficult situations is to check our attitude. The way we think about or look at something is our attitude. How do you think your attitude can help you cope with difficult situations? Having a negative attitude can affect your outlook and your behavior. We then read while the song plays Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes because Pete is really good at coping with tough situations and always keeps a PAWSITIVE CATTITUDE even in tough situations!
After discussing the story, students learn some coping strategies while playing a fun game of Guess the Sketch. Students draw from a deck of Coping Strategy Cards and draw the strategy on a white board. To add some fun, if the class guesses the coping strategy that the student is drawing, a square on a mystery picture is revealed.
Here are a few of the Coping Strategy Cards in which students chose to draw:
Their final project was to decorate a shoe and write a coping strategy.
After completion of the lesson, students are able to: • Identify attitudes and behaviors that lead to successful learning • Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems • Learn techniques for managing stress and conflict • Learn coping skills for managing life events
If I could go back in time and give myself a pep talk, I would remind my younger self that I need to look at the bigger picture. Kids are so caught up in impressing their peers and seem to forget that their reputation they set now can stick with them for a long time. So I decided it was time to talk to my 5th graders about the reputation they are creating for themselves and to make a decision, is this "Hoo" they want to be remembered as?
I started off with a pre-assessment question, "How do you want to be remembered?" Students love to share about their dreams of a future job, but few think about their reputation! Next I asked if they know who the Grinch is and showed them a video clip of the movie that is coming out in December of this year. We then related the Grinch's actions and how they created his reputation of being mean. Students were able to recollect from the original animation that the Grinch was able to repair his reputation.
Next we played the "Hush" game. Students wore a reputation word on a lanyard turned around on their back. Their classmates told them clues for them to guess. The only rule: The person giving the clue had a “Hush” word that they were NOT allowed to use when giving a definition or hint. They had a blast playing. Once they knew their Reputation card, we played a second game, "Hoo" am I? In this game, i read scenarios in which a reputation was described. The students decided if their reputation card was the one being described. If so, they would come to the front of the classroom. If more than one student came to the front, the class would vote on which one they thought it was and explain why.
I made sure to bring up our online reputations as well. We wrapped up the lesson with why give a hoot? It was especially important as my 5th graders were getting ready to transition to the middle school.
To finish the lesson, my post assessment added a goal element. Students had to write how they were going to achieve their reputation.