Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to Help with Math Anxiety

I have shared this infographic from with my parents via Twitter. My school has data to show our girls in grades 3 and 5 do not do as well on standardized math assessments as the boys. It is not a difference in ability so this year I am trying to raise parents awareness of ways to encourage girls in math (and science) and identify and remediate any barriers. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


For the final session of my Chill groups in grades 3-5 I first give the post-group survey and then I review all the strategies we have covered with a bingo game I made called RELAX. I just create the cards in a word document using a table. It works best if you have about 30-35 choices so everyone does not have the same choices. It takes a little time to put the skills  in different places in the columns. For the cards to call the game remember to put the letter for the column (R- blow bubbles). When I call I frequently give a reminder of how that connects to deep breathing or whatever skill was taught. The students love playing bingo and it is a useful fun activity for closure to a group.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hurt Feelings book

In a sequel to her bestselling When Sophie Gets Angry..., Caldecott Honor Illustrator Molly Bang asks: What hurts your feelings, and what do you do about it? This book was published in September 2015 but I just discovered it when looking for books to teach children to self-regulate. It teaches kids to accept different points of view.

Everyone's feelings get hurt, and it's especially painful in childhood. In this story, Bang's popular character Sophie is hurt when the other children laugh at her and tell her she's wrong. Sophie's face gets hot, and tears begin to flow. Then she questions herself and the value of the choices she's made. I am planning to use this with a small group but it would make a great lesson to cover some of the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors in the area of self-management and social skills.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Self Regulation books

These are 3 of my favorite books to use in classroom lessons and group sessions to teach about self-regulation. Julia Cook's character RJ really needs help with self-regulation! Zach really appeals to second graders. The book comes with a link to a download of the frustration triangle described in the book. I use "Take a Deep Breath" in first grade after teaching the Conscious Discipline breathing strategies. 

Monday, January 25, 2016


Self-regulation is the theme for our classroom lessons in January. I Students need to develop emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation. One research based intervention for self-regulation is Conscious Discipline that includes a 5 step model, several breathing techniques that are fun and engaging for young students. I teach the breathing techniques to all kindergarten and first grade students. The Shubert series of books that I use in a small group with students who need more work on these critical life skills. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

4 Square Breathing

Square breathing is my favorite technique to teach students in grades 2-5. It helps them be more mindful and less anxious. I use it myself in stressful situations. It can be done by simply counting in your head, you can physically raise your hand and arm as your count, or you can trace a square as you count and breathe. I teach this in class lessons on self-regulation and in emotion regulation groups.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Adoption Issues

Approximately 2% of children in the United States are adopted. Families built by adoption appreciate when school's use positive adoption language http://www.holt/language.shtml. Generally Preschool to First Graders feel special and positive about being adopted. Beginning in second grade children understand the loss part of the adoption triad. It is not uncommon for children ages 7 and up to have ambivalent feelings around their birthday. Nancy Verrier says in The Primal Wound of the child adopted at birth, “There seems to be an anniversary reaction (also felt by the birth mother), which sends many adoptees into despair around their birthdays… is it any wonder that many adoptees sabotage their birthday parties? Why would one want to celebrate the day they were separated from their birth mothers? The adoptees, of course, have probably never really understood, themselves, why they do this.” As a school counselor it is important to be knowledgeable about adoption. Counselors can also help teachers be sensitive about adoption  adoption/adopt-parenting/school/teachers/

Friday, January 22, 2016

Helping Kids that Worry Brain Plate Tool

Why Smart Kids Worry by Allison Edwards (2013) is a terrific resource for parents who have children with anxiety concerns. She offers parents (and many could be used at school too) 15 practical easy to implement tools. Many of the tools are ones I have used for years like Tool #1 Square Breathing which I teach in my small groups. One that was new to me is Tool #12 Brain Plate.  Edwards says Brain Plate is a way to organize what kids think about so they worry about only one day at a time. Step 1 have the child draw a weeks worth of food on a single paper plate. When the plate is full ask what would happen if the parent made them eat all the food pictured at one time. The child will say I'd get sick. Then compare not being able to handle all the food at once to not being able to hold a week's worth of worries in their mind. When they do it causes stress. On a separate plate the child divides their day into sections, such as: school, home, friends, and activities. This helps bring mindfulness to today so they don't worry about future events. A daily plate could be filled out for 2 weeks until the child is successful on focusing on one day at a time.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coping Tools Where You Need Them

I am getting ready to wrap up my "Chill" groups for students with anxiety in grades 3-5. We have covered a variety of coping strategies over 10 sessions. The next session I plan to review the skills and have the members decide if they would use a particular skill: Yes Maybe No.  Then for the Yes and Maybe skills I want them to write them on this handout indicating where they would be most useful.  For example, listen to music might help at home or on a trip but talk to a friend usually would occur at school or an extracurricular activity (symbolized by a basketball). Most of the members of my group have what would be labeled as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If you have GAD you need coping tools wherever you are which is the idea behind this activity. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gami Directions or Lesson Introduction or PSA

If you have an iPad for your counseling program try out the Tellagami app. I purchased the Educators upgrade so I could customize the character more. A Gami is a 30 second prerecorded message. Making a Gami is simple: 1) Customize the character; 2) Record the message; 3) Save and share. I usually email it to myself. You can use a Gami to give directions you repeat over and over. You can make a introduction to a lesson. You could also make a PSA, like for National School Counseling Week. It only takes 5 minutes to make one once you have done it. The students love them!

Monday, January 18, 2016


I think infographics are great probably because I am so visual but they are also a great way to display data. Here is one of my favorites on how to beat stress with yoga If you want to make an infographic on any topic or display data about your school counseling program check out

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Social Emotional Resource: Monsters

My K-3 learners love these adorable monsters. Help your students embrace their emotions. My two favorite books are The monster in the Bubble and The Very Frustrated Monster. I use them in small groups but they would make great classroom lessons too. Check out the free lesson plans at

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kind Words

The counseling program January Bulletin Board encourages use of kind words. The crossword puzzle format adds interest. Later we will add our sign to promote No-naming Calling Week which this year is January 18-22, 2016. Check out the site nonamecallingweek We use kindness as out theme for February so this can stay up 2 months!