Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What To Do When I Feel Blue

If you hadn't figured it out yet I love animals, especially dogs and cats. So there is a fun activity I did with a kiddo I work with individually:

We drew a paw and on each part of the paw my student wrote one thing to do when he/she is blue. The teacher told me she keeps it in her desk and pulls it out when she needs it! Yay!

Speaking of helping the blues, I got goosebumps of happiness when I saw that comfort dogs were going to Newtown to assist and comfort the survivors.
 Animals are amazing. Wishing those in Newtown lots of comfort during this difficult time.

Banana Splits

I remember when I got Brooklyn she had a brother with her, and I was torn. One the one hand we thought we could only handle one and on the other we  didn't want to tear apart a family. The lady at the shelter reassured me saying, you are helping one and many people feel this way. If everyone didn't want to tear apart a family then they would always stay here.

As a child of divorce, my banana splits group always hits close to home. I wish I would have had a group like this. Here is how my banana splits group looks:

Our first group we do icebreakers and get to know you games, then in the following sessions we base  the group about the game "Splitsville."
 This is a super fun game that allows the kids to take turn creating banana splits, while answering questions about their feelings, changes that have happened, ways to relax, etc. Everyone in my group enjoys this game and I like the round table discussion that comes from it.

Last year I made banana splits at our last meeting, and although it was fun, it was messy and we didn't stay too focused. So this year we made paper banana splits, here's how they turned out. I love them.

Banana Split #1

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't Be An Angry Bird Prt. 2

Here is a lesson I did last year on anger. It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to do it again.

                                                        Angry Bird Ball Toss

I downloaded this game on the SmartBoard Exchange. Students took turns throwing a stuffed angry bird at the game and depending on what color they hit they had to answer the question. If they got a question someone had already answered they had to make an additional comment or come up with a different answer.

Ball Toss Game

Sample Situation Question

An Important Look At Mental Health

There is so much to say about Friday and yet I can't seem to find the words at all.

This article is a heartbreaking look at mental health issues in our schools and in our country. I encourage you all to read:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top Dog Bulletin

As part of my character education program each month I ask teachers to nominate a "top dog" in their class that  exemplified the word of the month. (Here is a list of my character education words:
 I honor those students by placing their names on a bulletin board for all to see and creating a "top dog" certificate. They love it! Next year my plan is to have the top dogs eat breakfast together to celebrate.

Our Student Council board in August

Look Whose Been Spotted

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't Be An Angry Bird!

Last night my foster pup, Seven, and my pup Brooklyn were playing when things got a little rough. There was a little too much growling and nipping my for comfort and I could see their friendly play going from joking to anger. Swiftly they were in their crates for a time out. Seven was snoring moments later.

How ironic that hours later I would be at school hosting my final "Cool Beans" small group, a group for students with anger. Today we finished up our group by creating "cool down goodie bags." Here's a peak:

I laugh too much to be mad.
A reminder to listen to calming music.
  • The Bag: To start the group I had them docorate one side of the bag with words and images that helped them calm down. One student drew a chair with the words "push, pull, dangle," a method we learned about when reading Julia Cook's "Soda Pop Head." Another drew the beach, a claming image, and surrounded it with cool down methods. My example bag had three pictures glued to it, each that make me giggle. 
This picture not only makes me laugh, but reminds me that a bath always calms me down.


On the other side of the bag I had the kids write their final "warm fuzzy." One nice compliment to each other or a finally good-bye wish. I wrote one as well.
  • The contents:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shhh...when we can't use our words

On a recent dark, chilly fall evening, a three year old child wandered out of his home un-noticed by his parents. His departure was, however, observed by the family dog, a large neutered  male Pit Bull, who took it upon himself to follow the little boy and stay close by his side. 

This adorable pup and his microchip saved his three year old brother, without even a single bark. Read more at:

This year we have a student that started Kindergarden that has been diagnosed with Selective Mutism. When she started our school she didn't say a word and constantly wore a stone face, but to date I am proud to share that the students have reported they aren't able to work because "she was chatting too much."

I remember meeting with the mom and the beginning of the year and we discussed what would happen if she got lost. The fear is having too much identifying information on her, because that could be just as unsafe. When I saw this article at I really thought wow wouldn't it be amazing to help train therapy dogs for these students and the dog carries the identifying information.!

Watch a wonderful video from ABC on Selective Mutism here:

 I also want to share a tip that our counseling supervisor shared with me this year. It has to be one of the single best tips I have gotten this year! Often when students are angry, frustrated, mad, upset, struggling we say "Do you need help?" and then probably follow up it with a little talk that goes something like "When you need help you need to ask an adult for help. I can't help you when you get upset, you need to use your words and calm down." Well as my supervisor pointed out many of our students don't have the maturity or skills to do this yet. When we ask them if they want help we are teaching them that if they get frustrated enough, melt down, then someone will step in and help. So instead of asking when the student gets upset just look at them and say "I need help." That's it. Model the words you want them to use.

Sounds crazy right, well I tried it out this week. I was working with a student that just won't complete any work. I could see he was getting frustrated so I said " I need help."  He looked at me puzzled so I continued "I would be glad to help you....." We did a problem together and I let him continue alone. A little while later I could see that same look so I said "I need help" and we repeated the scenario. As if on cue (seriously it was straight out of a training video) another girl walked up and said "Ms. Filtness can you help me?" I went above and beyond with the "Yes_____ I would LOVE to help you. Thanks for asking for help." You would have thought she won the lottery. About two minutes later my student looked and me and said "I need help." I almost fainted with excitement. He got it!

I shared this strategy with another teacher who has a student that melts down. We are creating a cool down area for him and I suggested when he got upset to just say "I need to go to my cool down spot." Today he melted she used the cue and I am happy to report he pouted right over to his spot. I'll blog more on this later, but I had to share this tip!