Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas in the Counselor's Office

'Tis the season!  The students are excited, so why not incorporate the holidays into the classroom or counselor's office?  I just posted a Christmas and New Year packet on TpT.  The packet covers reflecting on this year and making goals for the upcoming year.  In addition, there is a printable to compare naughty vs. nice behavior.  The Holiday Interest Inventory and Making a List page will allow for a lot of discussion while getting to know your students even better.  The content provides a great opportunity for building relationships, which is always super important.
Christmas in the Counselor's Office
Click on the picture above and you will be able to preview a few pages in my TpT store.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chains ~ Linking Decisions

Isn't it so wonderful to work with people that share their ideas?  I am lucky enough to work with Alicia (right), who is allowing me to share her idea in this post.  Alicia is my fellow counseling partner.

Alicia has students write down decisions they make on strips of paper starting with their initial decision...the one that created the problem.  This makes the first link of their decision chain.  From that link, decisions and/or consequences are written down to create additional links.  As the students are making their chain, they have a visual and literally connect how one decision leads to the next.  Once the chain is complete, the students are able to reflect by choosing the link they would go back and do differently.  The link they pick is cut with scissors, which causes the rest of the chain to drop to the floor.  This demonstrates all the events and consequences that would not happen with a better initial decision.
I have used the chain activity several times, and I love it!  The students do too!  Making the chain allows students to reflect and become active in the conversation.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Metal Board

One of my favorite and most useful tools in my office is this board that I made out of sheet metal.  I bought 2 sheets from Home Depot and put them on the wall side by side to make one large board.  I simply used a hammer and 4 nails to attach each sheet to the wall.  The boarder is a wide ribbon from Hobby Lobby that is stapled to the wall. 
The whiteboards attached are regular whiteboards with magnets on the back.  The same is true for the containers holding the markers.  I use the business card sized magnets that are sold at Office Max.  They hold up really well, and the magnets are easy to cut with scissors. 
As you can see, I have been busy talking with the kiddos about getting along with peers, as well as classroom behavior.  By having these questions posted it helps to open up conversation.  The post-it notes are used by the students to write their answers/thoughts down, so we can discuss and identify problems.  The answer to these questions are usually conflicting, which makes for great conversation!  On a side note, the answers to the question, "How do others see you?" are usually pretty interesting.  When the students read "others" they usually make the assumption that "others" is their friends.  After they answer, I explain that "others" includes everyone...parents, teachers, ALL peers, siblings, etc.  Another great opportunity for good and honest conversation!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Red Ribbon Week

It's October!  Fall is in the air,  football is in full swing, and Red Ribbon Week is quickly approaching.  I wanted to create a freebie for Red Ribbon Week to offer to both my teacher followers and counselor followers.  The packet is somewhat generic, so each individual page is versatile depending on grade level and focus of the lesson or activity.  This packet can be downloaded for free from my TpT store.
This packet includes:
~Title and Info Page
~A list of Red Ribbon themes
~A drug free self portrait page
~A template to compare a life with drugs to a life without drugs
~2 pages with frame and writing lines to illustrate and write about a drug free future and career
~A list to create the top 10 reasons to be drug free
~3 posters/coloring pages
~Credits Page

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's on your walls???

If you have read my office page, then you know that I just moved offices and positions over the summer. In my office I have a big closet. The bare closet doors have bothered me since I moved in, but I was not sure what I wanted to put on them. What is middle school appropriate? I was so afraid of putting something up that was too babyish...coming from an elementary school and all. However, after the first two weeks I found myself saying the same things that I had said the previous four years as an elementary school counselor. Even though the conversation was more mature, I noticed the students did not have basic problem solving skills, were confused on what bullying really was, and did not know the difference between reporting a problem and tattling. They were having difficulty identifying how they felt and coming up with ways to calm down when angry or upset. In response to my student's needs, I decided to cover my closet doors with posters addressing these issues.
The posters that I used were from several of the packets that I have in my TpT storeYou can do the same thing by making your own posters. Just think about the issues that come up most often with your students. So far I have been amazed at how many students have looked at and commented on the posters. I have even had students come in angry, and as I give them time to calm down I can see them studying the posters. Students have even referenced them in conversation. Teachers, what do you have on your walls? Make it relevant, because I promise the students read, study, and look at what is posted.

If you want to make your own posters, then make them pleasing to the student's eye. Some hints are:
~Use fun fonts, but make sure they are easy to read
~Use colors that are eye catching, but not so crazy that the message is overpowered
~Use attractive clip art and pictures to support written messages
~Deliver your info clearly and concisely

The posters that I used are from the following packets:
~Counselor's Office Rules - For the Counselor's Office packet
~How to Solve a Problem, Small Problems vs. Big Problems, Reporting vs. Tattling, Bullying or Not - Problem Solving packet
~Anger Rules and Ways to Calm Down - The Anger Hub packet
~Boys & Girls How Are You Feeling Posters - The Emotions Hub packet

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Since my post last week was about using games to make connections, I wanted to follow up by mentioning another game I often use.  Jenga!  Students of all ages love this game.  I have used it with students in kinder up to 8th grade.  This game works great in one-on-one situations or with a group.  Jenga makes for a wonderful icebreaker activity.
On each Jenga block I wrote a question or statement.  Once the student pulls the block they must answer the question before placing the piece on the top of the tower.  Some pieces have serious questions while other blocks have fun statements to respond to.  When students pull the block that asks a question like, "What makes you mad?" they respond without hesitation almost every time.  Take the game away, ask the same question, and the student most likely will be more guarded and less unwilling to share something so personal.
Teachers, there are so many ways you can incorporate this game into your classroom depending on what you write on the blocks.  As a former math teacher, I would consider writing math facts on the blocks.  The possibilities are endless really.  What games do you like to use with students?  Please leave a comment.  I am always looking for new ideas!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Memory Game

So, have you ever been trying to make a connection with a student and they just sit there and look at you like you're crazy?  For the most part, students respond in a positive way as soon as they realize you are there to help solve a problem.  However, sometimes students are oppositional or scared or just plain shy, which puts a road block between the student and yourself.  I have found that turning the situation or problem into a game usually removes the road block.
One game I have found that almost all students enjoy is memory.  The cards in the photo above make up the Feelings Memory Game.  When students turn over cards or get a match  the perfect opportunity is created to get them talking about how they feel.  In this game I used the following emotions: worrying, anger, happiness, scared, silly, excited, sad, and surprised.  By the end of the game, I know what the student is thinking with each emotion, as well as what may trigger these feelings.  This game is in The Emotions Hub packet in my TpT store
The following are a few things to consider if you want to incorporate games into working with students.
~The amount of time in which it will take to play the game.  It is more beneficial to start and finish the game in one sitting.
~Use games that have easy rules to follow and simple scoring.  This will allow conversation to flow fluidly.
~Use games that will keep students engaged and on topic.
~When playing with a group, use games that can be played with a variety of ability levels.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

IEP Binder

Hi there!  Just like all of you, I have been busy getting organized for the new school year.  Several years ago I started a binder system to keep my Individual Education Plan(IEP) students organized.  I use this binder with my 504 and Student Support Team (SST) students as well.  I wanted to share my binder organization with you, so if you are interested you can download it for free from my TpT store.  I added teacher pages, because I thought this same system would work great for teachers trying to get their mounds of paperwork and plans organized.

I like color coding everything, so this binder is no different.  The colored sheets are what divides one student's paperwork from another.  I use the red for 504 students, the orange for IEP students, and the yellow for SST students.  The divider sheets are editable, so I type the student's name, grade level, and the frequency and duration they recieve counseling services.  Behind the divider sheets I place the log form to track the day, time, loaction, and objective of the counseling session.  After the log form I place all of the paperwork including: IEPs, BIPs, IAPs, differentiated strategies, etc.  Lastly, I add student creations.  For example, if I am working on goal setting with a student we will create something that I can add to the binder so the student can refer back and we can review from one week to the next.
In the picture above you will notice a calendar.  I put one calendar at the very front of my counseling binder.  You can download this calendar shown from my TpT store for free.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TpT Sale

If you haven't heard, TpT is having a sale.   It started today and ends at midnight tomorrow. Everything in my store is 20% off and then TpT is offering an additional 8% off for a total savings of 28%!   Who doesn't love a sale?!?!   In order to get the additional off from TpT you must use the code BTS13.   I recently bundled my Picture Schedule Icons packet with my Visual Cue Cards packet for a discounted price. The bundle will also be on sale, so it's a great bargain!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I am so excited to be doing a giveaway with a few of my fellow bloggers.  My friend Nicole from Rowdy in Room 300 has helped me a TON over the summer with my blog.  I am so lucky to have her to answer ALL of my questions.  She is giving away the book Too Much Glue to the lucky winner.  Take a second to read her review of the book below.
"Too Much Glue (written by Jason Lefebvre, illustrated by Zac Retz, for release: September 2013), is the wacky story of a boy who, despite his teacher's warnings, lands himself in a sticky situation. The book is absolutely adorable and teaches a little lesson about creativity and {using only a touch of} glue! We all teach these expectations- and it is SO much more fun to incorporate literature into these lessons! I'm so excited about using it this year!"

I will be giving away a few back to school items from my TpT store. The "Getting to Know Others" packet is one of my favorites.  It has a variety of activity sheets that will allow you to get to know your students.  Don't just use these at the beginning of the year, use them all year long.  The "Locker Tags, Labels, and More" packet is editable and has a variety of designs including chevrons, owls, and school supplies.  Use these designs to make labels, locker tags, name tags, posters, and so much more!  The "Visual Cue Cards" packet contains 26 cards.  Use these cards to give students a visual of directions and expectations.  These are perfect to use as a form of intervention for your students struggling with behavior.

Jill from ABC's and Polka Dots is giving away her Brown Bear Pack (see preview below).  Jill and Nicole actually met through blogging and TpT.  What a great way to collaborate!  I'm looking forward to connecting with other educators to share ideas too.

Enter using the rafflecopter below!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Mustache" Back to School Pack Freebie

Has anybody else noticed how popular mustaches have become?!?!  I know I have.  I wanted to create a fun back to school pack for both teachers and counselors to thank the educators that have started following my blog and visiting my TpT store.  The Mustache Back to School Pack is currently available for free!  Just download the packet from my TpT store (click on my Teachers Pay Teachers tab and then click on the link to my store).  Here is what is included in this packet:
  • Two activity sheets that will allow you to get to know your students.  These sheets are great to use throughout the year, not just at the beginning of the year.  Knowing about your students will help you build a relationship with them.  I love doing some type of "getting to know you" activity with students when we are meeting for the first time or when I am trying to build rapport with a student.  If you like these pages, then check out my Getting to Know Others packet on TpT!  Some of my favorite "getting to know you" pages are in this packet.  Also, consider filling these activity sheets out for yourself.  The students want to learn about you too!
  • Bookmarks - 4 designs
  • Labels - 4 designs - Use these editable templates to make name tags, locker tags, labels, posters, frame student art work or writing, etc.
  • Name plates - 4 designs - Use these to label student's desks, chairs, tables, etc.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Calendar Communication

I think it is important to have communication with other school staff members as to what is going on in my week.  I wanted something outside my office that would be both easy to update and decorative.  The following picture shows how I decided to display the major events of my week.
I started with inexpensive 8 X 10 frames, fabric, ribbon, stapler, paint pen, and double sided tape. 
1. Cover the back of the frame with fabric of your choice.  If using fabrics with patterns make sure the patterns are subtle and won't interfere with the color of expo you will be using.  Fold the fabric around the back and use double sided tape to secure the fabric.  I am not sure that double sided tape was the best, but it's what I had on hand.

2.  Once the back of the frame was secure it was time to add the ribbon hanger.  I cut my ribbon into pieces that were about 16-18 inches long.  I took the end of the ribbon and folded it over in half, then stapled the ribbon to the back of the frame.  I used 3 staples on each side.
3.  Using a paint pen, I wrote the days of the week at the top of the frames.  I used six frames.  I did not put a frame for Saturday and Sunday; I just used one frame and labled it weekend.
4.  Time to hang the frames, so choose an arrangement of your choice.  I used bulletin board push pins to hang my frames.  The ribbon rests on these pins perfectly.
5.  Using a black expo marker I wrote the major events of my first week back at work.  I will erase the frames before leaving for the weekend and get ready for the next week by posting my upcoming events.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

DIY Bulletin Board

One of the things in my office that I get the most compliments on is the bulletin board that is behind my desk.  Years ago I saw something similar on the Potterybarn Kids website, but could not afford to buy it, so I decided to try to make it myself.  Don't get me wrong, the one on PB Kids was way better, but I was really happy with how mine turned out.  I just recently recovered the board for my new office and wished I would have taken step by step pictures to post for you to see.  It's pretty easy though, so I will just tell you what you need and give some simple directions.
Here is what you need: open back frame, 1 ft. X 1 ft. cork squares, fabric (3-4 coordinating fabrics), stapler, strong tape (I used packing tape), and brown paper (I cut apart 2 brown paper bags from the grocery store and taped them together)
Step 1:  Decide what size frame you want and choose your frame.  Mine is 2 ft. X 4 ft, so I needed two packages of cork squares (the ones I bought came in 4 to a pack).
Step 2:  Cover your cork squares. Cut the fabric into squares big enough that the fabric will wrap around to the back.  Use a stapler to secure the fabric on the back.  It is important to pull the fabric tight.
Step 3:  With the frame facing down arrange your squares in a pattern that you like.  You will be seeing the back of your squares, which will look kind of scary, but don't worry nobody else will see that part.
Step 4:  Get a strong tape and tape several times going up and down the frame and across the frame as well.  I don't think there is such a thing as too much tape, as you want it to be secure.
Step 5:  Use your brown paper to cover the back of the frame.  Again, use your tape and tape all around the edge.  I also taped up and down and across the brown paper just to be on the safe side.  I use my bulletin board a lot, so I wanted it to be sturdy.
Step 6:  Hang it on the wall and enjoy!

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