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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. :(
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.
Do you ever get bored of the same old board games? Well, try changing the rules of other games to meet your specific school counseling needs. Typically, it's just a matter of changing the questions.
My name is Marissa Rex and I am a 1st Grade teacher and an elementary school counselor from Ohio. I hope you enjoy my site!