Sunday, September 18, 2016

Welcome Friends!

10 years ago I thought I worked at a school that had a transient population. Now, I just think that all of society is a transient population with ever-changing jobs, interests, and life.  It is common for kids to attend 2 or 3 schools, just in elementary school! At my current school, new students pour in all year long even up to the last weeks of school when we are taking End of Grade tests. I have become accustomed to welcoming all students, including new students, during my Introduction to the School Counselor lessons. I also like to spend at least one lunch period with all new students in my grade levels, second grade and up, in a New Student Group.
In previous years, we have played New Student Bingo as a "getting to know you" activity and then we discuss how new students are transitioning to the school, emphasizing friendship skills.  This year, I am trying a few new things with a Skittles icebreaker and question cards to structure the discussion a little more.  Here are a few examples of my question cards........

I also updated my welcome certificates for new students.  At the end of last year, our Leadership Club decorated the certificates and added sweet message for new students to give them a more personal feel. I loved handing them out to new students in the spring and had some left over for the beginning of this year; now I have to replenish!  I use the welcome certificates to close the group and encourage the students to hang them on their wall at home to remind them how excited we are to have them at our school now.  
 
If you want a ready-made New Student Group Pack, check out my new addition at the Life on the Fly TPT store. It will be 20% off for the next 24 hours!  
Happy Almost-Fall and Enjoy! ~ Angela



Friday, September 9, 2016

Color me HAPPY!

*Image from hammertown.com

Have you caught the fever of the adult coloring craze?!! I bought the above book for my 5 year old daughter last Christmas because it caught her eye in a bookstore, and I thought we could color it together even if it was too hard for her alone. Kids and adults alike are LOVING coloring intricate designs.  You may remember my 2015 ASCA conference post when I learned about mandalas and started using them as an icebreaker and relaxation exercise during individual counseling.  It has continued to be a great activity for students of all ages, and I love it!

So, you can imagine my enthusiasm when I saw these AWESOME bulletin boards that our fantastic art teacher, Kim Pound, created for the start of school.



She did them freehand (YES!!!) to creative interactive boards where students could add pattern and color during Open House or other times during the day. I was so impressed that it got me thinking about how I could incorporate interactive coloring into my school counseling program.

I am still wrapping my mind around a few "new student group" ideas, but I did add the coloring sheets below when I taught my Kindergarten and second grade Intro to the School Counselor Lessons (My avatar sheet was added at the end of the campfire lesson but is not in the bundle).  They serve a dual purpose of informing parents that I am the school counselor and spoke to their child's class AND helps kids remember how I can support them at school. Students will fill in the boxes around my avatar with ways I can help them this school year AFTER we have completed the lesson as a quick comprehension check;  it's kind of like my formative assessment to ensure no one missed the main points of the school counselor's role during the lesson.  This fantastic avatar line drawing is the beautiful work of Surfer Clips on TPT. I highly recommend him!


And if coloring doesn't make you happy, I hope this next news will!!! I finally reached 350 followers at my Life on the Fly TPT Store and am celebrating by putting my ENTIRE STORE ON SALE until Monday...yes, everything! 
Act quickly, enjoy, and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Monday, August 29, 2016

It could have been a hot mess.....

Today was the first day of my 12th year as a counselor, and I have to say, it was one of my best!  I hate to jinx myself for the rest of the week, but I didn't have one Kindergarten crier. What?! I'm pretty sure that's never happened to me before.  It was also great being in the second year at my school; I could actually help people find things, I knew students' and parents' names, and I was able to pop into teachers' rooms without feeling like I was interrupting them because I have relationships with them now. It was amazing!

I'm hitting the ground running with my FIRST 30 DAYS CHECKLIST, which I wrote about here and here last year. Download it for free at Life on the Fly TPT, especially if you are a brand new counselor. I am also loving some of the changes I have made in my office this year.  I had a stroke of inspiration about a month ago and decided I would paint my cinder block wall with chalkboard paint.  First, because the white was really boring and ugly.  Second, because I thought the kids would think it was awesome to be able to express themselves through chalk drawing. Third, because I wanted to incorporate some of my regular group and individual counseling activities into wall activities. So, it could have been a hot mess when I started.......(and I was worried it would be).

Here's what I started with.......GROSS!


I bought 2 cans of tintable chalkboard paint from Home Depot and decided on the royal blue color because it would be dark enough to show different colors of chalk, and it's also one of our school colors.  I painted a huge rectangle on the bare wall. and added some 3-D butterflies I happened to have to extend the blue color out into the rest of the room.

Next, I added a fun pennant banner. I knew the kids wouldn't be able to reach that high anyway, and it made it feel more festive.  You know I love festive!!! I bought different cardstock papers at Michaels and used my handy dandy Cameo Silhouette machine to cut out the triangles. It is definitely one of the best investments I have ever made for my crafty projects.

Then came the fun part! I bought liquid chalk markers on Amazon to make more permanent designs that I wanted to stay up for awhile or would use all year with kids! Check out my miracle scale, positive thought mirror, and "Be Groovy" inspirational quote.


















So, it could have been a hot mess, but when those first kids came in and saw this wall, their reactions said it all.....it is awesome!  I am so glad I took the risk and that it paid off.  It is going to be a great year!


If you have any questions about this project, feel free to comment or email me! I'd be happy to give you more tips on how I made it work.
Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela
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