For more information, visit my Mix it Up at Lunch Day page.




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 by SoulPancake'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:
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:
In addition to their website and YouTube channel, SoulPancake 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!
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 .
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, 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.
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!).
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. :(
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.
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. 
I created two workpages (below) that could help students organize their thoughts and create a plan of action for finding and developing positive friendships.
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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.
As described on the Small Potatoes website, the show helps children to:
1. Develop an understanding of how to make friends.
2. Laugh and relax through humor.
3. Develop an appreciation of a variety of music.
4. Process their emotions through music.

You can create your own potato through the Small Potatoes Facebook page. Check out mine (left).
Check out more videos on my YouTube channel or here.

Career Exploration




I know I say this all the time, but Pixar is one of the best resources for school counselors.

"Boundin'" is part of Pixar's short film collection. As described on Amazon: "A shearing leaves a dancing sheep humiliated until a jackalope passes by and
demonstrates that it's what's inside that counts."
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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.
One of my favorite Pixar short films is called "For the Birds." It's about a group of birds with poor social skills. I use this film to discuss the types of behaviors that students see or engage in at school. The worksheets are a great way for students to express how they would respond to these situations. 
Want more great short films?
Buy the DVD here!
Download the worksheets here!
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.

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