Kindergarten - 1st Grade
For my youngest students, I offer small group sessions on social skills. I invite all students to participate in kindergarten and follow-up in 1st Grade for students who need extra work (or for new students). Each small group gets 6 sessions. Some teachers prefer 1 group of 4-5 students at a time, while other teachers like rotating groups every week. In the end, every student gets the same number of sessions; the delivery is the only thing that varies. These lessons can easily be adapted for older students.
If you need more sessions or perhaps more of a variety, here are some additional lessons for you to try:
Beanie Baby Stories
I use my old Beanie Babies in many of my lessons. Any stuffed animal would work, though. For these sessions, I have students apply what they have learned to their own Beanie Baby, creating a story that demonstrates their understanding of a particular topic, such as positively identifying and expressing feelings or making and keeping friends. Here are two sample workpages:
Beauty and the Beast
The effects of positive and negative behaviors. Click here to purchase Beauty and the Beast.
One of my favorite activities is creating a group or class book. In a small group, students can share their story with the rest of their class, which helps reinforce the positive message. Here is a sample book template:
Animal Projection Technique
Feelings and Food
Facial Expressions and Body Language
Angry Birds (Extension)
For the Birds
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 or have anxiety about the bad things that could happen. 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.
"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.
Shaun the Sheep
Shaun the Sheep is a cute character from Aardman Animations. On the Shaun the Sheep YouTube channel, you can find short videos that your students will love. I use them in my small groups to reflect on positive school behaviors and interpersonal skills. When students earn a "lunch in the school counselor's office" reward, sometimes I show these clips while we eat. Each clip sparks great group discussion about what it means to "play fair," show good sportsmanship, treat others with respect, and more.