For more information, visit my Mix it Up at Lunch Day page.
SoulPancake 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). SoulPancake 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:
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.
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.
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.
In case you haven't noticed, I love using video clips with my students. It's a fun way to grab their attention and transition into a lesson.
I just found one of the most adorable television shows ever...yes, EVER! Small Potatoes is about four singing potatoes who travel the world making music and making friends. Each three-minute episode contains a song about a specific topic and audio clips of children reflecting on that topic.
I use this short film with my small groups to help build positive relationships. After viewing the video, we discuss how the sheep felt and how the jackalope was a good friend. Then, I give each student a workpage (above). I write a group member's name on each student's paper, then explain that they must write and/or draw something nice about that person. In this way, they are acting like the jackalope, helping their group friends feel good about themselves.
Once everyone has finished their work, we share our words and/or pictures one at a time. Then, I ask for the receiver to say how they feel after hearing the positive feedback - I record their response at the bottom of the paper. I make copies of the projects for my own documentation, but let the students keep their originals, which serve as a reminder of how valued they are.
The video is also great with individual students who may focus on the negative aspects of their life. The jackalope shows the sheep that bad things happen and sometimes, you just need to keep moving forward until you feel better again; you can't let every little thing get you down.
Over the years, I've learned that simple rewards, like time in my office, can motivate students. I'm not that special - I think they just like the peace and quiet.
For some of my students who have behavior concerns or have trouble making friends, they can earn time in my office. They are allowed to pick 3 friends to join them. This provides my students with the opportunity to have positive social interactions with their peers and, especially for the students who are shy, they must build their courage to initiate friendly conversations.
In my room, we talk, play games, or even watch short video clips to encourage discussion. My students have a couple favorite video clips this year. The first is "Fresh Guacamole" (left). Students love to talk about this creative video and the conversation tends to continue outside my school counseling office. Another great video (right) is in the Shaun the Sheep "Championsheeps" series. It's short, sweet, and helps facilitate discussions about prosocial behaviors.