Monday, May 22, 2017

Mindfulness Resources

At the beginning of this school year all our pupil services staff in elementary and middle schools were trained in MindUp mindup.org At the training they recommended having a mindfulness resource display in our offices. I had all my books on my easel but was very happy to get this "free" rack that was in the teacher swap pile this morning (as we are cleaning and organizing our rooms at the end and beginning of the year we share anything we don't want anymore).  My favorite books to read to students are "Peaceful Piggy Meditation" by Kerry L. MacLean and  "Puppy Mind" by Andrew J. Nance that teach slow down and breathe to become calm. I loan these to teachers and have a smaller set I loan to interested parents. Mindfulness is still pretty new in our school so there are many questions about how it is being taught. In addition to book resources I always recommend these sites:
mindfulschools.org and mindfulteachers.org  These sites have for practicing and teaching mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, and Social-Emotional Skills.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Penny for Your Thoughts

These 80 hand-illustrated communication cards will bring new connection to your relationships with students. These cards help kids identify and talk about their feelings/experiences and teach skills that build confidence, help solve problems, and increase emotional connection.  Kids identify how they feel, who's involved, where something happened, and skills they can use to cope with challenging situations and big feelings.  This is a very open ended "game" that I have used students with a variety of presenting concerns. This game integrates social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, helping children to articulate their feelings and learn how to manage them in healthy and adaptive ways. It can be purchased at apennyforyourthoughtscards.com

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thumballs

These are 4 of the Thumballs I have in my office. My newest ones are "Catch a Career" and "Mindfulness" from youthlight.com Youthlight offers a reduced cost the more you purchase.  Thumballs can be used in small groups using the basic directions: Throw it. Catch it. Respond to the panel under your thumb. You can vary the level of difficulty by requiring one answer or three to a prompt. Kids love "props" and tools they can touch. I have used Thumballs as an icebreaker and a wrap-up activity for groups in grades 2-5. I have some larger, easier to catch balls, that require less reading for kindergarten and grade 1. My favorite is "Mindfulness" that promotes discussion about key concepts and reinforces awareness including "The Present Is a Gift."

iPad Apps for Stress and Anxiety


I have 2 iPads which I use multiple times a day. The one at the top is a iPad Mini which I actually let kids use in my office and show Apps to parents during consulting sessions. The second is a standard iPad that I use to keep track of my program and also keep me centered. The Apps I recommend the most to families fall into 4 basic categories: a) Mindfulness; b) Breathing; c) Yoga; and d) Sleep. There are so many useful Apps to help people, including children, reduce stress and anxiety. Please comment if you have a favorite, mine is Smiling Mind!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mental Health Awareness Month


This is the bulletin board display we use each May to bring awareness to the fact that 20% of children have mental health challenges in an effort to destigmatize having a diagnosis and promoting treatment. We just change the background, arrangement and the border to keep it looking fresh. It invites kids to ask what does that mean? to me and gives me (and teachers who are asked) an opportunity to have a conversation about mental health challenges. All our staff are being trained a Mental Health First Aider to make them more knowledgeable and comfortable about dealing with students and people in the community who have mental health challenges. We were required to take the course if it is our year to renew our license which for me was this year. To learn more about the course check out mentalhealthfirstaid The goal is for all people in the community (not just educators and mental health providers) to be as comfortable with mental health first aid as CPR. I spoke at our PTA this month on Mental Health Challenges to make parents more aware and answer questions.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Need a Book to Help Children Impacted by Immigration Policy

If you need a resource to help children who are directly or indirectly impacted by deportation this is a good book. It addresses the fear children of undocumented workers have that they will be sent back to their country of origin. It could be used to teach empathy and compassion to students with a topic they hear being discussed but often do not understand.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Games for the Counseling Office


If you are still purchasing materials for your counseling office for next year and you don't have one of these bingo games. I have the entire set but if you can only afford one (they are $25) buy Empathy Counts childtherapytoys.com/products/empath You can play the game like regular bingo and have the students answer the question card that goes with the number on the tile they played. The Empathy Counts game offers and option to build a happy face or the letter E for empathy with the tiles which makes the game go faster and the students really like it. My students know a big part of my job is for them to understand their own feelings, understand the feelings of others, and act with compassion when another person is having unpleasant feelings. These games help facilitate this type of social emotional learning.