Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Class Decor Finds

Loving this canvas print.
If I could have a "side job" it would be to work with some of the best teachers I know and help teachers decorate and organize their classrooms. I love class decor. I love walking into a room and feeling comfortable and at home. So I often day dream about designing a classroom. Here are some items that have made it into my dreams lately:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Catching our breath.

When Brooklyn gets excited she whimpers. When she see's a cat, another dog, children, or anyone over the age of 40 her whimper quickly turns tragic. It's loud! Then the whimpers get faster, she starts pacing, and before you know it she's panting. I love her, but man is she an anxious little girl.

So today I put together some of my favorite resources for those in our lives and schools (or maybe even for you yourself) that are anxious:

            Strategies For Relaxation

5-Star Breathing: This simple breathing technique includes a good visual for students. It's easy to follow, remember, and use. I created a full scale sheet for practice and smaller stars for students to take with them/tape to their desks.

Belly Breathe with Elmo- This video from Seasme Street is still one of my favorites to show! The song is catchy and my first graders always make me play it over and over again. We watch it together once first, then I play it again and ask them to join in the belly breathing. They always want more, so I tell them as a reward at the end of class we will play it one more time.

Good ole fashioned stress balls! I love having stress balls around my office and so do the kids. They also tend to disappear, so I try and stock up whenever I can. You can get some cute stress balls on Oriental Trading (about $15 for 24),  you can make custom stress balls for about $1.15 each at Office Depot, and you can find several versions (some hysterical but not school appropriate) on Amazon, including this silly one.  I have also used play dough and attempted to make my own at school (it was fun but messy). Lastly, whenever there is a career fair, an armed forces information day, or free event with business prompting themselves I try and stop by because often I can
get one or two free stress balls.


Breathe 2 Relax-  This app allows students to follow along as they take deep inhales and exhales and learn how to belly breath. You can lengthen or shorten the counts of each inhale and exhale, so I think it's interesting to talk about how my inhale my differ from others, how long is too long, how long is not enough to calm down, etc. Ideally each student could have it on their own iPad, iPhone, etc. When I used it I only had one iPad so it was pretty funny to watch us all sit around the iPad like we were around a campfire and practice. The students got a kick out of it through. In high school this is a good resource for your students to put on their own phones.

Squeeze and Shake Stress Relief- When I was a high school counselor I remember letting many students "borrow" stress balls. The longer I am in this job, the more I realize there is no "borrowing."This would be a great app for middle school age through adults. It's a virtual stress ball! It also vibrates the phone which is great for any kids with sensory issues you might be working with. I am going to recommend this to our SPED department. Be warned though, it's not a free app (it's 99 cents) so you want to make sure students aren't buying it on their phones and then have the parents send you the bill.

Read about more apps here

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When we are angry we must "PAWS":

I get a great deal of referrals for students who "can't control" their anger. We spend a lot of time talking about what do to, so I decided to make some fun "paws" with these tips that will go with my dog theme.

I like the idea of having these paws up on the wall, mini paws on the students desk, or making a mini paw for their backpack, etc.

Download some free signs on my TPT store!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Calling All Readers

Today the Knox school counselors all meet during our inservice day. One of the things we discussed was "mindfulness," and I immediately thought of a book I just found.

The book is "Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story introducing active progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing" by Lori Lite. I think it looks great, but I wondered if anyone used it and what they thought. I also wondered if others out there felt comfortable sharing this resource with parents. I love the idea of incorporating "mindfulness" and "progressive muscle relaxation" but I have also had parents telling me they don't their kids learning "that kind of stuff." So has anyone out there used the book? What did you think?

Welcome New Friends

Brooklyn and Fidget
Boss making new friends at the "Nuttcracker."

We love making new friends! I also love seeing that people are visiting my blog, which is just a fun way for me to share ideas and of course puppy pictures. Since I have noticed the ticker keeps increasing I wanted to share a few things about Sassy School Counselor with my new readers.

5 Things You Should Know About Me:

Brooklyn hard at work in my office.
1) I have horrific grammar. English was my worst subject from elementary school through college, and it looks like things aren't changing. I started this blog as a fun way to share ideas I have had and the ideas I have begged for, borrowed, and stolen. It's also a fun way for me to write about what I am doing, so in many ways it's like a journal for me. Thus I tend to write my blog entries as if they were my journal entries, which means bad spelling and poor grammar. Worse I have moved away from the amazing E.S. (my former music teacher) who also assisted as a personal editor. So sorry in advance for the spelling and grammar mistakes!

Meeting new friends.

2) Much to the dismay of my friends I often compare working with my students to dog training. The comparison of my baby Brooklyn to our sweet Kindergartners has lead to many a head shake, but I just can't help it. For starters having a dog reminds me of having a toddler- they are always moving, they always need to go to the potty, and they are always learning how to treat others/follow the rules. I have spent hundreds of dollars in dog training and I want to put what I learned to good use. Most of all it connects for me. We are always looking for connections to make with our students and ways to make what we are saying relevant to their lives, and for me looking at a behavior/social problem the way I would look at working with my dog- well it just makes more sense. Please don't take the comparison personal.

Which way are we going?
3) I love finding fun new websites! I remember in the summer of 2010 I was sitting pool side and a friend of a friend said have you heard of this site "Pinterest".  At the time you needed an invitation to join and I thought "huh wonder what that's about." Less than a year later I was addicted. 
I hope will all follow me! (

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Barks and Giggles on this snowy snowy day

Conversation Hearts

It's almost Valentines Day, so I decided to use some cute conversation hearts I found on TPT for my small groups this week.

You can download these adorable printable for FREE thanks to the One Stop Counseling shop.
Here's how I used them in my social skills/friendship group:

I told the students were doing to play a conversation heart game and each round would be different so they had to use their best listening skills.

Round #1- I gave them a conversation heart with something someone might say to them like "I like stuffed animals" and "I don't agree with you." I cut out and laminated some of the blank hearts that came in the set and with dry erase markers I wrote lots of different sayings like "stuffed animals are for babies", "that's cool", "that's silly," "I'm telling on you." Each student had about 10 hearts with different sayings and when I "played" my heart they had to find one in their "deck" that would be considered rude or mean.

Round #2- We did the same thing, but this time they had to find a "polite" answer in their deck. I found it interesting that some of my students picked hearts that didn't make sense. So a few times we had to role play and try again.

Round #3- This time I gave them each the same sheet of conversation hearts and we had to think of kind/polite responses for each heart. I did one heart as an example, then we did one together, and then the last two they did on their own. If time allows you could do one sheet together and then one sheet alone. A few like "add!!" we role played and discussed how the tone could make it sound kind or mean.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Counselor's Calendar

I am always looking for ways to track what I do and gather data on my time spent on direct and indirect services with students.

Right now I have developed a Google Doc that I keep open on my computer on periodically throughout the day, sometimes at the end of the day, (or after one of THOSE days I'll do it the next day) I input what I did.


 I have broken the form into three parts: direct student services, in direct student services, and non counseling tasks. I am also trying to track what topic I see each class/student about so I can see if I am doing more of one than another. I once had a principal tell they didn't really have "crisis" at their school- using some basic tally data a year later she pulled out of the curriculum so I could be ready for all the crisis they had =). I also like to track the grade (is one grade seeing me more than another, is most of third grade seeing me about friendship and I could do a classroom lesson) and if it was planned or unplanned (is the same teacher sending students down unplanned each week - happens all the time to me).

I like my doc, but it's not perfect for sure. Then today I got an e-mail about Counselor's Room.
It's a resource that helps track time, create surveys, and provides resources for counselors. For example, when you click the logo at the top of the page it doesn't take you to the home page.

I do like that the calendar function can link with your Google calendar and will help sort the activities you are doing into recognized ASCA categories.