Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Office!

After seeing several posts by other school counselor bloggers sharing their office spaces, I've decided to share mine as well. I really love how my office has turned out this year (thanks to Pinterest for several ideas!) and have received a lot of positive feedback from both students and staff. The best compliment is when someone tells me they'd like to curl up in one of my chairs and take a nap! Seems like I've achieved the comfortable, welcoming environment I was striving for!

I am very lucky to have a nice sized office that allows for small group space, individual student space and my computer/desk/storage space that is separate from my "kid zones".

Here are some pictures of my office!


Twitter door....idea from Pinterest! twitter door

Other side of my door.....
all the things I help students with.

Modified idea from
Andrea at 
Message center next to my door.


Small group area with group norms & discussion prompts

K-2 Small group table/area
3-6 Small group table

Bulletin board-idea from Counseling with Confidence 

Individual meeting area with slip covered
chairs that cost $6 each at a local thrift store!

Another bulletin board
Bookshelf from my basement
covered with contact paper

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Small Group Journals

I love to have students in my small groups journal at various times throughout our group. However, I've struggled to find inexpensive journals with just the right amount of pages. In the past I've had students decorate notebooks to use as journals but we never come close to filling the entire notebook. This summer I decided to make journals for my small groups and it turned out to be a simple and quick project (inexpensive too, costing me only $5 in scrapbook paper)!

Here are the supplies I used:

  • Card stock 
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Rubber cement
  • Notebook paper
  • Plain printer paper
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
Steps to make the journals: 
  1. Cut card stock, paper and scrapbook paper. I re-used some left over card stock and notebook paper from another project at school so they were already cut in half. I just had to cut the 12 x 12 scrapbook paper in half. 

2. Next, I used rubber cement to glue the scrapbook paper to the card stock to create the journal covers.

3. Since my scrapbook paper was longer than my card stock I had to trim the covers down to size.

4. I counted out how many sheets I wanted in each journal and placed the stack of paper in the center of the cover.

5. Then I used my sewing machine with a long stitch to sew the paper to the cover.

6. Viola! The finished product!

In all I made almost 40 journals and it took me about 3 hours and $5 to complete. Not too bad!! I can't wait to use these journals with my small groups this fall! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Camps for Kids!

My very dear friend and classroom neighbor, Beth teaches "Book Camps for Kids" each summer. Boys and girls from age 4-13 can attend these four day camps based on popular children's and tween books. This summer I was so happy to join in the fun at the American Girl Power book camp! The girls read about American Girl Chrissa who moves to a new school and encounters a group of girl bullies. I lead activities three days on bullying and self-esteem with the girls and it was such a great experience for me! Here are the activities we completed:

Monday: Frenemie vs. Friend
We discussed frenemies vs. friends by looking at how each treats others, makes you feel and examples of what each says and does. I made a "friend" and a "frenemie" poster for each topic.

 Each girl received post-it notes and wrote one idea on each note then added their post-its to our poster. Once all the post-its were placed on the poster we would discuss that topic. We started with how friends and frenemies treat others. The girls wrote their thoughts on post-its and then stuck them to the posters.

 I went through the posters and we discussed their ideas. We finished the first day with me asking the girls to think about ways to deal with frenemies for Tuesday. I told them to wear their acting hats as they would be practicing what to say when encountering a frenemie!

Tuesday: Responding to frenemies
On Tuesday I gave the girls some guidelines to remember when responding to frenemies: be respectful, be confident, use humor but not to make fun of others and be honest. Then we headed outside to practice ways to respond to frenemies. I read various situations the girls could encounter and had them pair up to discuss their response before role-playing for the group. They were so creative and got better and better with each situation!

Wednesday: I'm fabulous because...
I talked to the girls about the #1 defense against frenemies/bullies: CONFIDENCE! We discussed how you can choose how to react to frenemie situations and how you let it impact you. If you remember to believe in yourself, no frenemie stands a chance! I gave the girls a sheet that said "I'm fabulous because..." at the top. On the side it was numbered 1-20. The girls spent a few minutes listing (at least) twenty things that made them fabulous. Some girls had forty items on their lists!!

Once their lists were complete we headed outside to show-off our fabulousness. The girls helped trace outlines of each other with chalk (that I got on clearance at JoAnn's!) and then they wrote all the things that make them fabulous on the inside of their chalk person.

 I took a picture of each girl by their creation holding the "I am fabulous because...." sign I made, which they got to take home the last day of camp. I have to say this was my favorite part of book camp! I will definitely use this activity this school year with small groups in some way, shape or form!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Excellence Shoes

Last year, March was Excellence month at my school so all my classroom lessons focused on some aspect of the importance of trying your best. In first grade we read the book "My Shoes Take Me Where I Want to Go" by Minnesota author Marianne Richmond. The kids love the playfulness of the story and the concept of different shoes transforming them into different characters.

After reading the book we discuss the idea of wearing excellence shoes. I ask students to tell me why we should try our best in first grade. Common student responses include to make their teacher or parents proud, so they can become a Super Scholar (a recognition program at our school), to get a good report card, etc. Then I ask them what comes after first grade. This gets their brains working and they start to connect that each grade prepares them for the next year.

Students' Excellence shoes on display above their lockers.
I ask them to again think about their excellence shoes and where they want them to take them in their future. Each student is given a white cut-out of a shoe which they decorate based on what they want to become through hard work and trying their best. I collect the shoes at the end of our lesson and display them in the hallway by their classrooms. At the end of the first grade hallway I hung a sign that reads "wearing our excellence shoes to reach our dreams" to explain to the rest of the school why first grade has a track of shoes on top of their lockers! The kids love seeing their shoe when they come and go from their classroom and several other grade level teachers have commented on how much they like the excellence shoes. It has been a great reminder for students that we are focusing on effort and trying our best.

The sign in the first grade hallway announcing
that they're wearing their Excellence shoes.

Giraffes Can't Dance!

I love using books to teach concepts during my lessons! One of my favorites is "Giraffes Can't Dance" by Giles Andreae. Part of the reason I enjoy using this book is that it can fit many topics a counselor teaches. For this lesson my kindergarteners were learning about excellence. We read the story and talked about how each of us can become what we want. All we need is to find something we love and be willing to do our best at it. I relate the giraffe in the story to how if they do their best in kindergarten they will be ready for first grade and if they do their best in first grade they will be prepared for second grade and so on up to college and their future careers. Students then think about what they want to try their best to become when they are older. We talk about how if we choose something we love we don't mind working hard for it.

Each student chooses a giraffe cut-out which they transform into what they want to be when they grow up. I provide scrap paper for them to add to their giraffe cards to represent their future career. It is always fun to hear how excited they get thinking about what they might do when they are older. While the students work, I walk around and write down what each student is turning their giraffe into so I can label their cards. We conclude our lesson by talking about how their teacher is looking for them to give their best effort, even when things are challenging. After our lesson, I create labels with each student's name and what they are trying their best to become. I hang the giraffe cards in the hallway next to their classroom with a sign that reads "Doing my best so I can...". All month long students are reminded to work hard each and every day.

Third time's a charm?!

I've tried a few times to start this blog and never get it up and running so maybe summer is the perfect opportunity to finally get it going! I am an elementary school counselor at a kindergarten through 6th grade school in Southern Minnesota. This school year will be my third year at my school and I absolutely love the students and staff I work with! A unique aspect of my school is that we bring half the district's 6th graders together in one school for the first time. This creates a great opportunity to transition students from elementary into the class they will be with through high school.

Since I love crafting I thought this blog would be a great place to document and share the ways I am able to combine my passion for school counseling and my obsession with all things crafty!  I hope you enjoy!