Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amy Krouse Rosenthal Books

One of my favorite authors of books I use in counseling is Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  My favorite is "The OK Book" which I use to encourage students to try new things.  I also love "Spoon" to send the message to embrace what makes each person special.  She has books about feelings, character traits, and problem solving.  Check out her website to see all her children's books.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Have you tried SMORE?

I watched the sconlineprofessionalexchange free webinar on this online flyer tool. It was very helpful and making my first flyer took less than 30 minutes!  Thanks Erin! Check out the one tool-at-a-time series she posted online this week (Twitter, You Tube, etc.)

Click to see my first attempt!

iPad Apps for Relaxation

I have found several additional apps for my office iPad mini to promote relaxation for my many anxious friends: My First Yoga, Simply Yoga, and on Pandora - Karma Kids Yoga.  I also found a few good nighttime meditation apps to recommend to parents.  Instead of letting a child play Mindcraft when they can't fall asleep, I recommend The Smiling Mind, they can try out The Bubble Journey for free or Sleep Meditations for Kids.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holding On to Loved Ones

This is a great book to use in individual or group counseling when dealing with any type of transition: death, loss, grief, moving, or deployment.  There are great resources on the web for follow-up activities: lifelessons or armylife. The book even has its own facebook page. I am planning on using it with our new students who are joining our learning community right after winter break but want to stay connected to the frends they left behind.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Labels - Place Holder

Anxious Students? Amping Up May Be Better Than Calming Down, Study Finds

A recent study in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Allison Wood Brooks, a psychologist at Harvard Business School who studies performance under stress, found that getting anxious people amped up about a forthcoming test or task improved their performance more than trying to soothe their fears. Read a summary of the study at Education Week

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Celebrate Uniqueness

Our administrators gave the staff this book, The Only One Club,  to share with our students as we approach our winter break.  I think it is perfect for second graders who frequently get hung up on being different in some way.  It addresses children's need to belong to a group. Flashlightpress.com has activities to go with each of their books, many of which could be used in counseling.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I use this book in groups in grades 2 and 3 to understand disappointment and how to handle it.  Although many students can explain disappointment with an example, it is harder for many to actually come up with the right thoughts and actions to cope with this unpleasant feeling.  Many group members connected it to disappointment about gifts for a special occasion or not getting to see or do what they want for the winter break.  I made a simple handout with the title Disappointment and the books refrain "You get wheat you get and you don't throw a fit!"  They each wrote about and drew themselves handling disappointment appropriately. Hopefully, some of the students will remember the session over the upcoming break.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Apps are you using? How do you organize them?

Last week my school gave the counseling department (1 to share for full-time and part-time counselor) a brand new iPad mini.  I first loaded the organization Apps I use on my laptop like Dropbox, Blogger, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.  Then I added some photography Apps (InstaFrame, Padgram, iPhoto, PS Express, and Snapseed) because I want to do some slide shows to promote the counseling program.  Since there were quite a few I organized them in a folder.  I also made folders for Drawing and Music. Then I searched for Apps I might use with the children in my elementary school including: 7Wonderlicous, PBS Kids, Sesame Street Divorce, Sock Puppets.  I made a folder for kids games: Emoji 2, Feel Electric!, MIMPI, Puppet Pals, See Touch Learn, Wordball, and What the word? Since I use Mindfulness in my work with children I made a folder with that title for some CBT, yoga, Zen, and breathing Apps: Breathe2Relax, CBT4Kids, 49poses, I Am Love, Smiling Mind ($), Super Stretch, and Zen Space.  Feelings is my folder with the most Apps: Dusty D. Dawg Has Feelings Too!, Emotions, Empatico ($), Fear Shrinker ($), FeelingOmeter ($), The Grouchies, Moody Monsters. Most of the APPs I loaded were free but I did spend about $25 at the App Store. I also made a folder for Bullying and Character Education.  The App I am most eager to try out is Concentration: The Attention Trainer to work with impulsive students. I can't wait to get back to work (we had 2 snow days) and try out my new device with children.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

I have been trying to decide how I want to incorporate this great new book into my counseling program.  I have decided to use it in a classroom lesson on kindness, compassion, and acceptance in grade 2.  It is perfect because we are getting several new students right after winter break.  All the characters are typical of classes.  I am sure most students will be able to connect with one of them (example, the boy with the outside voice or the girl who whines and complains).  I also plan to share it with two of my small groups in third grade since they won't get the class lesson. I am sure we will have a lively discussion of the central question in this book, Which is worse - being laughed at or feeling invisible?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Positive Energy

Jon Gordon's book is a great resource to teach students the power of positive emotions.  He also has a free lesson plans and activities at Guide. The lessons and activities could be used in grades 2-4. I used it in a small group but it could be a class lesson as well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. -- Albert Schweitzer

Monday, November 25, 2013

National Career Development Month

The career development component of the school counseling program needs to be highly visible in the school.  This is my bulletin board for this month to emphasize exploring a variety of careers at the elementary level.  The top half of the board is a collage of a wide variety of careers. We do career development activities all year round, not just during career development month.  The counselors "teach" at least 2 formal lessons on careers (we teach 10 total) but we also have career visitors in all our kindergarten through second grades (at least 6 a year).  The classroom teachers use parent volunteers to talk about their careers (they take the place of a parent reader slot in grades 1 and 2).  In grades 3-5 we do about 3 career cafes a month.  The volunteers are scheduled using Sign Up Genius.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cook Book on Anxiety

Wilma Jean - the Worry Machine

There are several things I really like about this book that offers children in grades 2-4 strategies to deal with worrying.  First, it uses humor which is generally useful for children who have the "what if" thougths a lot. Second, I like dividing worries into those the individual can control and the ones they cannot (like what others will do).  Finally, I like the worry hat as a place to put worries that children cannot control.  I am not sure labeling anxiety as the worry flu was a good idea.  Most experts in anxiety want the child to label the anxiety, name it, and talk about it as something external to them (example, worry monster).  I read this book with a number of children and groups this week and each time I did not like the phrase "worry flu." It sounds like the child with the anxiety has a sickness.  I will still use the book but not emphasize that part and at times even sure that I think there are better ways to label worries.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Smart Kids Worry

Most parents think they have a smart kid but don't understand the irrational thoughts of young children who are anxious.  I especially like part two of this down to earth guide that gives parents 15 tools to help manage anxiety.  It has one of my favorite tools, 4 square breathing, and a very clever introduction to the technique.  I highly recommend this book to any elementary counselor with lots of anxious students.  We need to give parents tools to use at home and this book is very clear.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Anxious Kids Anxious Parents

Wilson and Lyons provide families with a jargon-free 7 step way to stop the worry cycle and raise courageous and independent children.  I have bought a copy to include in one of our "Family Resource Packs" we share with families on common topics such as generalized anxiety.  Children are taught to "play with anxiety" and learn alongside their parents as they move toward courage and independence. According to the authors, action not avoidance, is the key to successfully break the cycle of anxiety. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stress is like a rubber band

This clip would be good to share in a class lesson or a small group...as we are wrapping up Stress Out Week!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

National Stress Out Week

This is the week the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) encourages people to take time to relax and unwind.  They provide information to educate people about the difference between everyday stress and an anxiety disorder.  Stress is a response to a threat in a situation.  Anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Check out their site to find tips on living and thriving with anxiety. Do you have a strategy for managing stress that works for you?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank You Veterans

Our school division gives us Veterans Day off which makes me even more thankful for the men and women who serve our country.  I frequently mention the military as a career that many choose when they leave school.  We have many active military and veterans who share their careers during our career visits in grades K-2 and Career Cafe in grades 3-5. Thank you for your service!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Promoting On Time Everyday Attendance

In an effort to improve our attendance this year we are piloting an idea we adapted from the attendanceworks web site.  According to Attendance Works, "every year, one in 10 kindergarten and 1st grade students misses a month of school with excused and unexcused absences." They recommend sending positive thank you messages to parents who send their children to school every day on time for the month.  We got one of our kindergarten teachers to agree to do this every month. The counselors make the cards and they are from the teacher, counselors, and social worker.  These are the cards we sent the last school day in September and October. It is too early to say if the strategy is working but it is relatively easy to do, very inexpensive, and definitely promotes attendance.  We will evaluate the strategy at the end of the school year.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Melt Downs, Irritability, Dry Eyes...Are They Lacking Sleep?

Most children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep. However, because of homework, sports and other extracurricular and social activities they are frequently "sleep deprived."  School-aged children spend time in the evening on "screens" which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours.  Consumption of food or beverages with caffeine in the afternoon or evening also disrupts sleep. And then this weekend we had a daylight savings time adjustment which also disrupts sleep patterns.
Sleep problems can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school. My favorite study  to share with parents was done by Tel Aviv University researchers who found that missing just one hour of sleep can be enough to reduce a child’s cognitive abilities by almost two years the next day. Not getting enough sleep has also been proven to take its toll on the overall health of people's eyes. Sleep debt has physical and psychological effects.
Parents need to be encouraged to start bedtime routines early and check to see children are actually going to sleep at a reasonable time.  Here are some tips to share

Sleep Tips for School-aged Children (by sleepfoundation.org)

  • Teach school-aged children about healthy sleep habits.
  • Continue to emphasize need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine.
  • Make child's bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet.
  • Keep TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid caffeine.