Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

The Anxiety & Depression Association of America have some free resources to check out Click the link below to watch a brief video describing anxiety vs. anxiety disorders

How to Help Students Change Negative Thinking

How To Get Unstuck From The Negative Muck: A Kid's Guide To Getting Rid Of Negative Thinking
Sullivan's child-friendly guide to learning ways to cope with negative thinking offers some useful ideas for counselors. It explains that self-talk can be positive, neutral, or negative. If you have a client who is stuck in the negative muck - having a lot of negative thoughts about self, future, and even the world - this is a good resource.  The book suggests having the student choose 3 positive statements, write them on separate sheets of paper, and decorate. For more ideas, check out the book.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Best Parenting Books on Anxiety


     These are the 3 books I recommend most often to parents of children struggling with anxiety. 

Anxiety-Free Kids, by Zucker, offers parents strategies that help children become happy and worry free, methods that relieve a child's excessive anxieties and phobias, and tools for fostering interaction and family-oriented solutions.

You and Your Anxious Child, by Albano, has moving case studies and brings much-needed hope to families, helping them shape a positive new vision of the future.

Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, childhood anxiety expert Dr. Tamar Chansky shares a proven approach for helping children build emotional resilience for a happier and healthier life. This book was revised in 2014.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Awareness is the first step in helping anxious students

Many children develop somatic complaints and feel sick to their stomach, light-headed, etc. who have nothing wrong physically, but are actually suffering from anxiety symptoms.  At the beginning of counseling it is important that students understand anxiety - its a lie or a trick the brain is playing.  The brain is sending a false alarm that makes the person want to fight, flee, or freeze.  Many people try to avoid the source of anxiety (i.e., separating from parent) when avoiding dealing with the stressors will actually make the anxiety stronger.  If you want to learn more I am doing an ASCA Webinar, Monday, March 2 at 10 am.  Here is link to sign up Help Students Reduce Anxiety

Monday, February 23, 2015

Using a chime for focused-attention practice

When I begin a group session I often calm the students settle by inviting them to close their eyes (or look down) and breathe slowly while they listen to this chime.  The first time I do it I tell them to raise their hand when they can no longer hear it.  I have used in in class lessons too but I don't use it consistently. Sound is a good strategy for engaging a peaceful attitude and this chime I bought on Amazon is very soothing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Bug and a Wish

I was very please when "A Bug and a Wish" by K. Scheuer was published in 2014.  I have taught the Bug and Wish strategy to students for years but it is always nice to have a book that shows how to apply the strategy directly as the stimulus for the session or lesson.  I borrowed the bug cut outs from The Learning Tree idea that is on Pinterest; however, on the wing on the right I had them say what they want the other person to do.  For example, in the book the boy says "It BUGS me when you tease me, and I WISH 
you would stop." I don't read it that way, instead I break it in 3 parts: It BUGS me - when you tease me - I want you to say nice things or don't talk to me." After we read and discuss the book (the illustrations are very expressive of the feelings the characters are experiencing), I give each student a premade bug. On one wing they write "It BUGS me", on the white circle they write a conflict they have, and on the other wing they write the words that say what they want to happen instead.  For example, one of my students wrote "It bugs me when you wreck my legos, and I want you to keep your hands off my legos." I did this activity this quarter with kindergarten students in friendship groups. I think it would fit better with grade 1 students who have a little better writing skills.  I always have the students say their idea out loud first because if it is serious (big deal) problem this is not the right strategy.  For example if they say what bugs them is someone hitting them, we talk about that is something that needs to be reported to an adult.  This strategy is for (little deal) kid size problems.  I hand their bugs in my office until the group ends and then send them home with all the work from the group.  The craft really helps them remember the strategy and they love these cute bugs. When the bugs go home I send a note to parents about the strategy so they can reinforce it at home.  I also share it with teachers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Channeling Boys Feelings Effectively

I have had the pleasure of seeing Rosalind Wiseman present 3 times.  She is an internationally recognized expert on girl bullying, but has spent the last several years explaining the "Boy World" to audiences.  You can watch her basic talk on You Tube about helping boys based on her research for Masterminds & Wingmen Wiseman on helping boys cope The part of her talks and book I find most useful is the SEAL structure to put words to feelings and develop a strategy to approach another person.  SEAL stands for 
1. STOP and SET it UP
4 LOCK in 
I think teaching the SEAL process of upper elementary and middle school boys is very valuable.  I encourage you to read this book. I have recommended it to many parents (especially mothers) to give them insight into their sons.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Study Skills Group Tips

My study skills groups for grades 3 and 4 meet during lunch so I have to maximize our time.  We have met once a week for the entire second quarter and will continue through the end of the third quarter.  Many of the students in these groups are in our gap group.  To engage them immediately I frequently do an opening activity where they each get one or two items that serve as a prompt.  Sometimes we sort them (helpful not helpful) and sometimes they read it aloud to the group and explain.  This past week I gave them each 2 foam flowers with strategies or concepts we have already discussed for a review.  They like getting something tangible to hold (not just a piece of paper) and I am always looking for them to say how they can apply what we learned.  They had to say why the one they had was important for school success. I then have the entire list with explanation typed out and copied in advance for them to add to their folders that go home at the end of each quarter to let parents/guardians know what we covered. The foam works well because you can wipe it off if they get food on one.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Make a Kindness Quilt

The Kindness Quilt by Wallace is a great book for kindergarten through grade 2.  It does a great job of explaining simple acts of kindness.  After reading and discussing in my small group, I had each student make their own kindness picture and label it, like the children do in the book.  The teacher then displays this on a paper quilt that starts small and grows.  I have mine hanging in my office.  I try to avoid hanging work students do in counseling in the hallway.  I display student work done in classroom lessons in the hallway.  One teacher read the book and assigned doing the drawing for "homework" just like the teacher in the book. Here is a link to a plan

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Kindness is Cool

This book is perfect for a kindergarten or first grade lesson on kindness.  An easy response to the book and discussion is to give each student a pre-cut heart (hopefully done with a die cut) where in kindergarten they would write and draw one act of kindness and in first could do up to 5.  If you do the 5s its easy to count by 5s to show how many acts of kindness that would make. It could be tied in to 100th day of school (which is today here) or the hearts could be displayed on a "Kindness Tree" bulletin board.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kindness Book

This book is great to share with Pre-K through Grade 1 to encourage them to show kindness and express gratitude.  Today is Crossing Guards Day in our school division so the kids can thank the guard who helps keep the safe. I also encourage our students to learn the names of people like lunch room staff and bus drivers.  Greeting folks by name spreads kindness too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wear the Cape for All Kid Kind

Wear TheCape Kids kidkind foundation
Another great site for resources to teach kindness is I used this with our fourth grade lessons but it would work PreK-grade 3 as well. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kindness Posters

In addition to the lesson plans on the RAK Foundation website they have many other great resources.  My favorite are the 8 x 11 inch posters Our print shop printed and lamintated them for me. The great news is all the resources are free.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Our theme for classroom lessons is kindness this month.  I suggest you look at These are well developed detailed plans for each grade K-5.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Promote College Readiness

The counselors promote the First Fridays college gear every month.  All staff include their college(s) on the posters introducing ourselves that hang by our offices.  We do bulletin boards that talk about where people the students would know went to college.  We talk about post-secondary options in our career lessons and through career cafe presentations.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

NSCW15 Appreciation

Yes the letter from the superintendent, emails from principal and AP, and teachers' comments about school counseling week make me feel appreciated but it is the kids' cards that make me smile!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kindness Bulletin Board

We are using this iPad style bulletin board throughout the year. For this month we changed the background screen color and added a boarder. We laminate everything to reuse another year. We add real Apps to go along with our monthly theme. We have an ipad initiative in grade 2 so those students are alwasy asking about the Apps. For February we are focusing on KINDNESS in our class lessons. Of course for NSCW15 we but a sign at the bottom advertising this week.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Our monthly theme in February for class lessons is kindness.  I use some of the great resources and ideas (lesson plans, free cut out downloads) from this website