Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Garden Project

One summer, I was working in my garden when an 8 year old boy from my neighborhood came over to check out what I was doing. I am passionate about gardening and find so much peace when I spend time in nature and get to work with my hands. It is one of my favorite self-care practices! Anyway, when he saw me pulling the carrots out from the dirt, he asked me why I would put my carrots in there. He had no idea that little seeds could grow into carrots in this dirt in my backyard! He had learned about that in school, but without the hands on knowledge he didn’t quite understand. His only experience of eating carrots is after buying them from the grocery store. This motivated me to apply for a grant that would allow me the funds to start a garden at my school so that my students could have the exciting experience of using the knowledge their learning in their classes to our garden! The potential to use this garden for character development is endless – patience, hard-work, persistence, cooperation, confidence, self-care, coping skills, planning and organization, and even health and wellness for mental health!

You can find a great lesson embedded below that I used to accompany our garden project that we are doing at my school. I wanted to use a lesson plant that supported the core curriculum and the character development curriculum at our school. I thought that this one did a good job of doing just that, and will allow us time in each class period to allow students to get their hands dirty in the garden as they work in the garden. My students are so excited to see their seeds and starter plants grow and are amazed that in a few short months we are going to have fruits and vegetables that we can harvest and eat in class!

Here is the lesson plan I used:

Click to access 5-Historical-Citizenship-Contribution.pdf

Posted in Individual Counseling Resources

Restorative Practice Worksheet

I have been using this free restorative practice worksheet with students in individual counseling and have found it to be super helpful! It is a guide that helps you to walk students through a difficult situation, such as getting into trouble at school, got into an argument with a friend, did poorly on a test, is having issues at home, etc. It allows you to explore the event(s), their thoughts and feelings (CBT anyone?), the impact they see their actions having on others, and potential solutions. I like that this allows students to take this home to use again and to help remind them of their future plan of action. You can find this free worksheet here:

Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Self Control – The Marshmallow Test

If you ask my students what their favorite lesson of all time was, I would bet that most of them would say The Marshmallow Test lesson. They loved to see who had self-control and who didn’t, not to mention their love for any lesson that allows them to eat something. Marshmallows are pretty cheap to get in bulk and it is a relatively allergy-friendly food. However, you must check in to ensure that your students are allowed to eat marshmallows since they contain gelatin (Kosher, vegan, and Muslim students often cannot have any food with gelatin). I had a back up candy for students who might not be able to have marshmallows.

Lesson Title: Self Control – The Marshmallow Test

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • A:A1.5 Identify attitudes and behaviors that lead to successful learning
  • PS:A1.8 Understand the need for self-control and how to practice it

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to explain what self control is and how they use it in their life
  • Students will understand the short and long term effects of using self-control


  • Enough Marshmallows for each student to have 2
  • Technology to play the following videos:


  • Optional: Family Connection Self-Control Handout


Begin by explaining the rules of the marshmallow test and passing out one marshmallow to each student.

“This is your marshmallow. You can touch it, smell it, etc. if you choose. You can even eat it. However, if you choose not to eat, lick, or taste the marshmallow, then you can get another marshmallow in a little bit. If you choose to eat the marshmallow now, that’s totally your choice, but you will only get one.”

Play the following videos for the corresponding grade level:

K-1 Play Cookie Monster “Me Want It (But Me Wait)” Video

2-5 Play Self Control Video by LearningWorks for Kids


Imagine riding in a car that is out of control. It can be frightening and very dangerous! This is also true for people who are out of control. They can hurt themselves and other people. Self-control is like having steering and brakes in the journey of life. It means saying “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to something better—something that can help you reach your goals!

This is activity that we have been doing is called the marshmallow test. A famous researcher first did this same test with kids younger than you a long time ago. He told the kids that if they waited to eat their marshmallow that they could have another. Do you think the younger kids found it easier or more difficult to wait to eat their marshmallow. More difficult! Little kids typically have less self-control because they’re still gaining their self-control skills. The interesting thing is that the kids who were able to practice self-control and wait for their second marshmallow were found, many years later, to be more successful! The kids who didn’t eat their marshmallow right away were more likely to make good grades, go to college, to make more money, to be healthier, and even to be happier! Does that mean that if you didn’t practice self-control and ate your marshmallow that you will be less successful? No! It just means you need to work hard on your self-control skills so that you can be successful too!

Optional: Ask students to complete the Family Connection Self-Control Handout

End with passing out a second marshmallow to students who did not eat/lick their first marshmallow and share the marshmallow test video:

Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Managing Emotions – Calming Down Before We Lose Control

This is a great activity with very little prep time and no worksheets, all you have to do is print and cut a couple pieces of paper for the game. Group work is always fun in guidance and my students had a great time acting out the skills. I thought the video would be a little advanced for my younger students, but they actually really enjoyed it too and were very interested in it. It’s extremely helpful to have this lesson to reference back to later when working with students on calming down and managing their feelings and conflicts.

Lesson Title: Managing Emotions – Calming Down Before We Lose Control

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • PS:B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems
  • PS:B1.5 Demonstrate when, where and how to seek help for solving

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify multiple calm down strategies
  • Students will be able to practice calm down strategies in response to upsetting situations



  1. Start by introducing the lesson: “Today we are going to learn about managing our emotions, even when things get super difficult. We’re going to start by watching a video that explains how our brain helps us deal with big emotions, then we are going to discuss different strategies we use to calm down from difficult situations so that we can calm down before we experience much bigger emotions. We are going to practice some of these calm down strategies by playing a game before you leave today.”
  2. Play the Why Do We Lose Control of our Emotions video:
  3. Write the following strategies on the board that help us manage our emotions and explain how we can use these strategies. Explain that we are all different so different strategies work for different people.
    1. “I Statement”
      1. When __________, I feel ________, because __________.
      2. This helps us keep the problem small by explaining the situation to others in a better way that doesn’t just focus on the negatives. Instead, I statements help others to understand your emotional reactions to what happened.
    2. Replace your negative thoughts with happy ones
      1. Instead of focusing on the situation that made you upset, you can think of thoughts that make you happy. I am super glad that my test is over and I enjoy all of the other activities that we are doing today.
      2. You can also reframe the situation. Even though that situation made me angry, I know my friend only did that because he didn’t know how much that bothers me and he was too angry to think clearly. This might be a great opportunity for him to learn how to handle his anger better, and I can help teach him if I handle this situation well!
    3. Talk about your feelings
      1. Find an adult or a friend to share your feelings with. Sometimes just confiding in someone and letting it all out makes you feel better. They can also remind you to use other strategies to help you relax and calm down or give you advice to help fix the situation.
    4. Deep breathing
      1. Show students how they can imagine they are blowing bubbles or blowing up a balloon to calm down their bodies and emotions.
    5. Visual relaxation
      1. Think of something that makes you happy, such as your favorite place, food, people, animals, etc. Imagine how this happy place/thing smells, what sounds you might hear, the tastes you may have, the feelings you may experience.
    6. Tensing and relaxing muscles
      1. Practice tensing your muscles and relaxing them, everything from your hands to your neck to your legs and toes.
    7. Squish play dough
      1. Squishing something can help us release all of our anger and distract us from our frustration.
    8. Use your energy to do something good
      1. Sometimes doing something positive or helpful will make us feel a lot better, and we can help make other people happy too.
    9. Count to ten or sing a song
      1. Spend some time focusing on something while you calm down, such as counting or singing. I like to sing something that makes me calm or happy.
    10. Take a walk
      1. Taking a walk can help me to focus on what is around me and to calm down from the situation.
  4. “We are now going to play a game to practice using these strategies we just learned about. I will provide each group with a pile of scenarios and a pile of calming down strategies. You will each take turns grabbing one scenario and one calm down strategy. You will read your scenario to your group, but do not share your calm down strategy. We are going to play a game called charades. To play charades, you will act something out and the others in your group must guess what it is. After you act out the strategy and someone in your group guesses it, you can discuss with your group whether that calm down strategy might work to help you calm down from that situation or not. Remember, different strategies are good for different people.

*For Kindergarten and first grade, consider doing this game as a whole group. You can read the scenario out and have all kids express the emotions that they would feel. Then read the strategy they can use and have them act it out, or have one student act it out (whisper the skill in their ear to act out) and have the class guess.

Hand out the materials to groups (3-5 people) to allow them to play. Walk around and give clues as needed if any groups need any help.

  • If time allows, ask students to share their favorite calm down strategies with the class.
Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

Big Problems and Little Problems

A topic often posed to us as school counselors at the Elementary level is tattling. Tattling takes away from teaching time and robs students of the opportunity to solve their problem themselves! My students loved acting out different scenarios and brought about many laughs during their role plays. I am always so impressed by the creativity of my students in their role plays and in their teamwork when doing role-plays.

Lesson Title: Big Problems and Little Problems

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • A:A2.3 Use communications skills to know when and how to ask for help when needed
  • PS:B1.1 Use a decision-making and problem-solving model
  • PS:C1.7 Apply effective problem-solving and decision-making skills to make safe and healthy choices

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to differentiate between big and small problems
  • Students will be able to determine when to tell an adult and when to solve a problem themselves
  • Students will know how to solve a variety of problems themselves and how to ask for help


  • Role-Play Situation Print Out
  • Optional: Printed worksheets
  • Book: Of Course It’s A Big Deal OR technology/book to play/read Don’t Squeal Unless It’s A Big Deal


Read Of Course It’s A Big Deal by Bryan Smith


Don’t Squeal Unless It’s A Big Deal


  • What is the difference between a big problem and a small problem?
    • A big problem is when someone is hurt or in danger or when someone is hurting something that doesn’t belong to them.
    • A small problem is a problem that kids can solve without a grown-up’s help
  • Why is it important that we solve our small problems ourselves?
    • Tattling takes away learning time and can upset our friends
    • Remind students to always consider whether they can solve their problem themselves before asking for help
  • Why is it important that we get help with our big problems?
    • To help keep us safe

Break students up into groups of 3-5 people. Explain that we are now going to practice (role play) solving different kinds of problems. I am going to give a situation to each group. Each group will have to act out their situation before acting out a potential solution to their problem. After each group presents their situation and solution, discuss with the class whether the problem was a big problem or a small problem. Ask students to share other solutions they may have considered.

Here are a few worksheets that you can use instead of or in addition to acting situations out if you like to have a worksheet with your lesson. Some kindergartners may find acting out a bit difficult, and the Report Vs. Tattle Sort is a nice activity to do with younger student to test their knowledge and allow them to practice their fine motor skills.

Posted in Individual Counseling Resources

Positive Pat & Negative Ned

We have all had students that just can’t seem to find anything good in any situation. This can be a very frustrating position as it seems to put a roadblock in the way of making any progress with these students. This is a game I found that has been very helpful with these students and it is actually really fun! This game allows students to understand the difference between positive and negative attitudes, and it really illustrates why it it so much easier and more fun to be positive. After practicing both ways, I think a lot of students feel a weight lifted off their shoulders when they see things in a positive, yet realistic light. Most students laugh at how silly the negative attitudes sound. I have used this game with individuals and with groups. You’ll definitely want to follow the printing instructions as they are very helpful. Follow the link below:

Click to access negative%20ned%20meets%20positive%20pat.pdf

Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

The Coat of Many Colors – Stereotyping & Judging

I LOVED the lesson that is found in the Zootopia movie, and since Dolly Parton might be a little outdated for some of our young students (as much as I hate to say that), I thought tying characters that our students may know a little better would take this lesson even further. I hope the templates in this lesson plan make preparing for lessons easier for you so that you have more time for all of the other duties that you have as a school counselor!

Lesson Title: Stereotypes and Judging – The Coat of Many Colors

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • PS:A1.1 Develop positive attitudes toward self as a unique and worthy person
  • PS:A2.3 Recognize, accept, respect and appreciate individual differences
  • PS:B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems

Learning Objectives:

  • Students can define the word stereotype and provide an example of this behavior.
  • Students will be able to explain why judging someone based off the way they look is wrong, hurtful, and often inaccurate.
  • Students will be able to list three things that make them unique and special.


  • Printed Zootopia stereotype printouts
  • Materials to write and color
  • Printed Coat of Many Colors template for each student


Show a picture of different characters from the movie Zootopia found on the Zootopia stereotypes printouts.


  • Ask students to tell you what thoughts come to mind when they see pictures of these animals. Which one of them looks the nicest? Which one looks sneaky? How about Gentle? Mean? Smart? Who looks like the good guy/hero? Who looks like the bad guy/villain?

Define the word stereotype – a thought or opinion about someone based off how they look without actually getting to know them. Explain that in the movie Zootopia, the sheep is actually the evil mastermind. People stereotype the fox for being sneaky, when he actually helps save the day. The buffalo looks mean and grumpy, but he is actually a good guy! However, the sheep’s body language makes her look friendly, even though she is very dangerous. Lastly, the rabbit is very smart, motivated, and hard working, even though a lot of people told her at the beginning of the movie that she didn’t have what it takes to be a police officer! The stereotypes we placed on these animals in the filmed tricked us into thinking we know who the bad and good guys really were. However, we now know that we can never tell just by looking at someone!

  • Ask students if they judged these animals prematurely – before getting to know them.
  • Ask students how it feels to have someone judge you or think things about you before they get to know you.

Explain that you are going to read the lyrics from a song called The Coat of Many Colors:

Back through the years
I go wonderin’ once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn’t have a coat
And it was way down in the fall
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin’ every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
So with patches on my britches
And holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me And oh, I couldn’t understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told ’em of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told ’em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes But they didn’t understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

In this story, many people assume that this girl is poor because of the jacket she wears.


  • How did you feel when people judged Dolly from the way she looked?
  • Have you ever had someone judge you based on something you wore or the way you looked? How did that feel?
  • What would have happened if Dolly Parton stopped wearing her coat and let the teasing bring her down?
  • Dolly Parton ended up writing a song about her coat of many colors that helped her become even more famous! How did you deal with being teased or judged? How can we keep that kind of stuff from getting to us (and hurting our feelings or making us change who we are)?
  • What do you think Dolly meant when she wrote “one is only poor if they choose to be?”

Print a coat template for each student. Explain that students are now going to make their own “coat of many colors”. Explain that when you look at someone you may not know anything about them, and this coat of many colors is going to show these things that we normally don’t know unless we get to know you. Provide coloring materials so that students can draw different aspects about themselves that are unique, such as sports they like, subjects they enjoy, their family, their style, hobbies, dreams, etc. Allow students to share their ideas with their class for the last few minutes.

Posted in School Counseling Program

Meet The School Counselor

Attached below is a powerpoint page that you may edit to make your own! This is a fun attachment to have on the outside of your door, on your website, or adapted to function as a brochure to share your role with your students, staff, and parents. If you want to develop a QR code to use to develop your own online referral form, start by developing a form with your google account here:!/

Here is an example of my form. Feel free to copy my questions as needed for your survey:

To make the QR code, go to the following website:

Then enter your google form URL in the website, click create QR code, then download or save your code for you to share and add to documents.

To add a Bitmoji to your file, download the Bitmoji app found in the app store on your phone. Next, you will make certain selections, such as eye color and hair style, to develop your Bitmoji character. When you have compeleted your character, you can select certain themes (saying hello, drinking coffee, etc.) to save on your phone, then upload these to drive, email, or whatever way is most convenient for you to then upload to this document.

I hope this help! If you have any questions, submit them in the comment section below!

Meet the School Counselor Editable & Printable

Posted in School Counseling Program

When Counselors Are Expected To Fix All The Problems

Recently a very sweet colleague of mine and I were talking and she shared her frustration with the idea that a number of her co-workers expect school counselors to fix everything and that we aren’t doing enough. To be totally honest, I’m not surprised that many of our co-workers feel this way! If we had a nickel for every time someone asks what exactly it is that school counselors do we would probably have enough to pay for our masters program (another question we are frequently asked. Yes, we do need a masters degree 😉 ). Needless to say, people don’t understand exactly what it is that we do all day because they only see us when we are working directly with their students and we are often spread thin – 1 counselor to several hundred students. One aspect of our counseling program is advocacy, which means that we must be sharing this information with the staff at our school. This is so important, because if they don’t know the small groups that counselors [can] offer, how to refer students to a counselor for individual counseling, why they should refer their students to a counselor for individual counseling, etc. then our ability to make a difference at our school is severely stunted. There are a million and one ways for you to provide this information to the staff at your school (email, staff meetings, website, handout, brochure, etc.), but the only thing that matters is that you’re getting this information out there.

Another important aspect of the “you’re not doing enough” mentality is the culture of your school. If your workplace is a super negative, it’s probably a sign that the culture at your school is breeding negativity. Again, this does not at all surprise me that so many schools are stuck in this negativity hamster wheel. Teachers are expected to sacrifice financially, socially, emotionally, and more to do the best for their students, and yet parents and administration still ask them to do more! I am currently reading the book Awakened by Angela Watson, which is aimed towards teachers but I found this book to be so incredibly helpful and it does a good job touching on this topic. Teachers have their own set of challenges, and I learned early on in my internship experience (Thanks Ashley Price, you’re seriously school counselor goals) that supporting teachers is a huge aspect of supporting our students. For example, if a teacher doesn’t respect or understand your role(s) at your school they are less likely to send students to you for your counseling sessions, or to invite you to parent conferences that you could be really helpful in, or share concerns or information that would be valuable for you to know. These are all activities that are vital to you making a difference in the lives in your students and lead to a more cohesive, supportive environment. Therefore, showing teachers that you are supporting them and on their team will lead to more collaboration and hopefully a more positive school culture as a whole. Leaving an encouraging note for a teacher, leaving a small gift (I have never met a teacher who doesn’t like coffee or chocolate), or complimenting a teacher on her classroom management skills or how she handled a difficult situation goes a long way! I also think that developing relationships with my teachers by stopping in after school to ask them how they are doing really builds up this sort of teammate mentality.

I should point out that it’s a process to prove yourself to your school (as a new counselor, I am certainly still working on this and will take all the help I can get), but your goal shouldn’t be to prove yourself to teachers, but to do what you think will most benefit your students. For example, if a few negative teachers at your school think behavior is the problem and that you should be focusing on that, your focus is providing and referring students with/to mental health support resources (counseling, referrals to community counseling agencies, etc.). This will in theory help with problematic behaviors, but that isn’t necessarily your focus.

Lastly, one things that I think can be really helpful is administering a needs assessment to teachers to find out exactly what needs they see as being a priority because then we can narrow in our focus on those things. I have no doubt that this will allow your teachers to clarify what they need (and see their students as needing) from you and they will certainly notice your attention/response to their feedback. At the beginning of the year I did a google docs assessment, but got very little responses back even after several reminders. I provided a paper version in their mailboxes around December for a mid-year assessment and I had a 100% response rate! This assessment gave me super helpful insight that narrowed my focus in on topics for guidance/SEL, pointed out kids I should be seeing, and provides data to share with my principal and staff. Although Google seems to be so much easier as far as analyzing information goes, this worked best for the teachers at my school and provided me with far more information than I received online. Attached is a downloadable counseling assessment that you may edit and share with the staff at your school. I hope that this information allow you to feel less alone, empowered, and employed with ideas that may help build more cohesion at your school! Please share any additional ideas or feedback you may have below in the comments!

Posted in Individual Counseling Resources

New Student Sessions

One of the many tasks that are often assigned to school counselors is greeting new students and welcoming them to your school! Although it is one more thing that is added to your to-do list, it is such a great opportunity for counselors to share what their role is to each student that enters their school throughout the year. Additionally, it can allow school counselors to learn more about each student and the conversation may present information that may call for additional interventions/counseling/etc. Below I have included a few different resources with free worksheets that you may complete with each student to guide new student sessions.

"All About Me!" FREE Printable Worksheet