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Each month, I offer classroom lessons
that highlight my school district's core values. "Dedication" is our January core value, so I taught my students about the importance of never giving up.
For my youngest students, I based my lesson on The Little Engine that Could
. This year, I opened my lesson with a Sesame Street
music video called "Don't Give Up." Then, I discussed the story of The Little Engine and told students we would make our own train to show what we will never give up on. They loved it! I definitely recommend this lesson!Click here
for more lesson details.
I also found this amazing video that older students may appreciate. It's about a man who was told that he would never walk without assistance, but with hard work and dedication, he was able to run.
Be ready to wipe away some tears, because this video is quite inspiring.
One of my favorite quotes from the video is: "Just because I can't do it today, doesn't mean I'm not going to be able to do it someday." That is such a wonderful message to share with our students. School isn't always easy (and it shouldn't be), because we are challenging ourselves to be better, stronger people. Let's live this message: Never, EVER give up!
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While catching up on my blog reading, I came across a Corner on Character
post about "the path that leads to awesome." Within the post, Barbara highlighted an adorable, hilarious, and heartfelt video
's "Kid President" that inspires viewers to make the world a better place.
I was incredibly moved by the video and instantly thought of dozens of ways that my students could benefit from its message. But, like the obsessive video scavenger I am, I HAD to discover what SoulPancake
was all about and, of course, if there were more videos school counselors could incorporate into their own programs.
So, here's what I found out:
was founded in 2008 by actor Rainn Wilson and his friends, Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry. As described on their website, "SoulPancake
sprang out of their desire to create a space where people from all walks of life could discuss and question what it means to be human - a place to wrestle with the spiritual, philosophical, and creative journey that is life" (FAQ
is not just video - there are also print, web, and live event formats.
One of my favorite aspects of the site is the "activities
" section. There are various writing or multimedia prompts (i.e. "List the one thing that you'll never give in to.") that visitors can participate in. These activities are a wonderful springboard for school counseling services; you could easily modify an existing prompt to meet your specific needs. If you trust their little hands, you could even provide your students (in individual or small group sessions, ideally) with a camera so they can respond to challenging questions in a different way.
As for the additional videos for school counselors, I found plenty of clips to spice up a lesson or two. I added some of these SoulPancake
videos to my YouTube channel
- organized by topic, of course! ;)
You can view my "Brighten Your Day" SoulPancake
playlist in its entirety here
. You won't be sorry! I promise! These videos are meant to energize, inspire, and ease the burdens we carry. Lighten the load. Enjoy!Here are two of my favorites:
In addition to their website and YouTube channel
also published a book
. You could use this to spark conversation, encourage friendly debates, or to help with your own self-care.
Wow...big discovery today. Thanks, Barbara!
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In December, I highlighted
an educational and super adorable television series called Small Potatoes
, which was created by Little Airplane Productions, Inc.
Little Airplane, as described on their website, "specializes in quality film and television programming for young children." They have created many outstanding shows, such as The Wonder Pets
, 3rd & Bird
, and Tobi!
One of my favorites, which was recommended to me by one of my readers, is The Olive Branch
. The Olive Branch
is part of Little Airplane's non-profit wing, Little Light Foundation
. Each 1 minute episode is meant to model effective conflict resolution strategies, but does so without using words. This way, the message can be understood by anyone, anywhere, which is quite beautiful.
"The children of today are the global citizens of tomorrow. They will play and ultimately work with people from different countries and different cultures. Tolerance, the ability to see and incorporate diverse points of view, and the skill to forge win-win solutions will soon be the most important skills we teach our children. It's never to early to lay the groundwork of these skills."
-Laura G. Brown, Ph.D.
While researching Little Airplane, I was lucky enough to speak with Tone Thyne
, Supervising Producer for the company. We discussed how their shows are made, the dreams for The Olive Branch
, and ways that fans can get involved.
We also talked about an exciting and unique aspect of Little Airplane: Little Airplane Academy
, a 3-day intensive workshop in New York for those interested in created their own preschool series. Participants are able to meet with influential network executives during a panel discussion. There's still time to apply for the upcoming February 9-11 session. Interested? Then, contact Tone at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I've received a lot of emails from my readers, asking me to describe how I spend my time and why I love my job.
Instead of writing a long post about this topic, I decided to make a VERY LONG (nearly 30 minute) podcast, which you'll find on the left.
In this video, I explain how I organize my schedule. I also reveal the pros and cons of the school counseling profession, as I see them. If you're able to watch the whole video, you'll hear about one of my recent success stories that may help you in your own school counseling journey.
Okay, so better late than never, right? I've been a bad blogger and never finished Pixar
Week! Yikes! I've had 2 straight weeks of rehearsals and performances, so I am a little out of sorts. I apologize for being much more unavailable than in previous months. Please forgive me, lovely and intelligent school counselors...no, I'm not picking up clever (but still bad!) habits from my students.
Alright, now to the final Pixar
short film of the "week." Day & Night
is a thought-provoking movie about two completely different people who have a hard time getting along. There are, however, 2 potentially inappropriate parts of the film that I think you should know about. First, there is a scene when one cartoon is punching the other. Second, there is a scene when one cartoon is oogling a girl in a bikini. Besides those concerns, Day & Night is pure genius and great for our elementary students.
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A wonderful follow-up activity would be a friendship venn diagram. The film, in essence, is a moving venn diagram, so how perfect is that?! Students could be divided into pairs to complete this task. You can use a basic diagram (below) or a cutesy one from Mar*Co's Colorful Counseling
activity book (one of my favorites!).
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How often do students come to you with friendship problems? My guess would be VERY often. A common issue I see, especially as students get older, is the friendship triangle, where someone is always left out. In many cases, one student feels pulled between two friends he/she likes and doesn't want to choose which one to play with. One Man Band
offers a comical depiction of that "stuck in the middle" feeling. This short film would work as a perfect discussion starter.
For an additional friendship triangle activity, check out my Dear Tim
page. My poor puppet friend is having the same problem. :(
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Show your students how special and unique they are by writing notes on these beautiful Pixar notecards
! Vol. 2
was also just released.
Day 4!La Luna is a beautiful story about a young boy learning "the family business." Both his father and grandfather
try to push their views, but the boy learns to find his own way.This short film could help students reflect on the pressure they feel from others (friends, family, peers, strangers) to act a certain way.
To facilitate the discussion, try using the workpage below. It will you give a revealing look into the minds of your students.
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This came from a colleague - I'm unsure of the original source.
Welcome to Day 3 of Pixar
Sometimes the most magical moments do not happen on stage, in front of a crowd...sometimes, they happen behind the scenes as the illusion is being delicately crafted for the audience.
For a fascinating look inside Pixar Studios
, including what it takes to direct and design an animated feature, check out Pixar's behind-the-scenes page
on their website.
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Now, on to the show! Have you ever wondered what happens the moment before the curtain opens on a great magic show? Well, Presto
will show you just that.
The humor (and lesson for our students) comes from a magician's rabbit, a fiesty assistant that desperately wants a carrot to settle its rumbling tummy. This short film can teach our students about patience and self-control, but also about recognizing and responding to other people's feelings.
There are some slightly inappropriate aspects of this film (slapstick humor, such as a ladder to the groin and electric shock), so use your best judgement. Enjoy!
As I'm sure you may have noticed, I have a slight obsession with Pixar
. Their films have depth and substance, creatively expressing the importance of building character. Both their full-length and short films have a magical way of teaching our students why making good choices is in their best interest.
This week, I will be highlighting some of my favorite Pixar short films that you could use with your students. Additionally, I want to explore how these masterpieces are created and recognize the creative forces that brought the stories to life.
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In case you're interested, there is an EXCELLENT documentary called The Pixar Story
that gives you an amazing behind-the-scenes look of Pixar
. You can watch the film on Amazon Instant Video
(you can rent or buy the film). For a short preview, check out the video on the right.
Now, on to the first short film! "Partly Cloudy
," as you can see in the trailer below, is about a world where clouds create little bundles of joy (babies, puppies, kittens, and other adorable creatures) for storks to deliver to loving homes. However, within this sugary sweet world lives a gloomier cloud who likes to create more unique and, at times, unappreciated gifts, such as sharks, crocodiles, and porcupines. This cloud's poor stork is visibly exhausted and falling apart at the seams. One day, the storm cloud's stork friend flies to a neighboring cloud - when old gloomy sees this, his thundering anger builds and his rain tears fall. But, have no fear! The weakened stork returns with a bundle of his own: a helmet and shoulder pads to help make the journeys easier.
So, how could a school counselor use this story? I think there are two excellent ways.
1. The storm cloud has a hard time expressing his feelings, so this movie could spark discussion on how to positively manage strong emotions.
2. Sometimes students who are outside the mainstream are confused why the general population doesn't reach out to be their friend. I think "Partly Cloudy" could help these students reflect on the importance of the quality of their friends vs. the quantity. Being unique is great, but it can also make it more challenging to find great friend matches. It's hard being friends with someone you don't have anything in common with, so naturally, if you think and act outside the box, then you'll have fewer great friends at your disposal. Therefore, you need a plan for how to seek out the right peers.
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I created two workpages (below) that could help students organize their thoughts and create a plan of action for finding and developing positive friendships.
If you're a school counselor, then I know you've been asked to, in some capacity, manage bullying and bullying prevention at your building(s). The trouble is, we don't always have materials available to us. I've had to create my own lessons and materials more times than I can count and while I love to exercise my creative muscles, sometimes I need something that's ready to go.
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I recently heard about S.H.A.R.K. (Students Help Achieve Respect & Kindness) Patrol, a program for grades K-3. The goal is help students understand the importance of working together and taking responsibility for our actions.
You can buy
the whole kit or just pick and choose your favorite components. I personally love the CD, because the music is very catchy. I use the songs as a way to engage my students at the beginning or end of a lesson. Since my primary students LOVE puppets, I bring in a puppet to help "sing" the songs. You'd be surprised at how funny and enchanting a singing puppet can be. Try it in the mirror with any song...see what I mean?!