Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

First Day of School – Mixed Up Feelings

This is one of my favorite lessons that I received from the school counselor I interned under. I couldn’t wait for the day that I could do this at my own school with my own students, and I hope that this might be a great lesson for you too as you begin the new school year! I do this lesson each year for the kindergarteners to explain my role and to begin talking about emotions and coping skills.

Lesson Title: First Day of School – Mixed Up Feelings

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • PS:A1.5 Identify and express feelings
  • PS:A1.6 Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior
  • PS:B1.4 Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify feelings that are associated with different experiences
  • Students will be able to identify coping skills to help soothe their uncomfortable emotions
  • Students know who the school counselor is, their role, and how they can be a resource to them


  • Bleach
  • 4 colors of food coloring
  • 6 clear cups/jars
  • water


This lesson is best to use on your first class when going to a new school and with kindergarteners when they have their first guidance lesson. This lesson can illustrate the job of the school counselor, to explore how talking about your feelings can help you to feel better, and to explore how feelings are not bad, only what you do with them may be bad.

  1. Start with introducing yourself and explaining what school counselors do: SEL lessons teach students about important things they will need to know for forever, group counseling to help kids who may all be going through a similar event or share a similar problem, and individual counseling for kids who need to talk to the school counselor about a problem. Discuss confidentiality (Everything you say to me will stay between us, unless…). Also share how they can get a hold of you – “If you ever need to talk to me about a problem or you need some help or to keep someone safe, you can ask your teacher to email me (call if it’s an emergency) and I will find a time to meet with you. I can help with problems with friends, grades, your future career, and much more!”
  2. Before your class arrives, pour about a half inch of water in 4 of the clear cups. Put one drop of food coloring into each one. Pour one large clear cup full of bleach and leave the last cup empty.
  3. Start by explaining to the class that feelings are not bad. “It might not feel good to be angry, but it’s not bad to feel angry. You can’t get in trouble for feeling angry. However, you can get in trouble if you choose to hit someone because you’re angry. You have to choose to handle your emotions in a positive and safe way.“
  4. Next, hold up the cup with the red food coloring-water mixture and state that the red water represents anger. Share a few things that might make you angry or ask the class to share things that might make them angry (Brother punched me, I got a D on a test, it rained when I was supposed to have a soccer game, etc.). Put a tiny drop of food coloring until it is all in the empty glass.
  5. Do the same with the blue water that represents sadness (I wasn’t invited to a birthday party, my grandma passed away, my dog passed away, etc.), and the green that represents jealousy (my sister got to have a sleepover and I didn’t, my friend got a new bike, my brother went on a fun field trip, etc.), and the yellow that represents guilt (I tripped my friend, I stole money from my mom, I cheated on a test, etc.).
  6. The cup that was originally empty should now have all the colors mixed in and should look dark and murky. Explain that it is extra tough when having many feelings at the same time and can be overwhelming and hard to handle. Tell the class that “it’s ok to feel these feelings, but it’s important to find positive ways to handle these feelings. You might read a book or write in your journal or ride your bike, but one easy way to help with your overwhelming feelings is to talk about them”. Share what people you might talk to or ask the students to tell you who they talk to about their problems (school counselor, teacher, friend, mom, dad, sibling, uncle, etc.) and for each person you may pour one drop of bleach into the dark color mixture. The water should lighten up slowly to a yellow/clear color, just like the yellow color of Joy from the movie Inside Out and you now feel much better! Remind the students to talk about their feelings and that you’re there for them should them ever need you, in addition to the other people in their lives.
Posted in School Counseling Program

SEL Newsletter

Using a newsletter, I will be sharing with families different resources, topics discussed in SEL that month, a counselor referral QR code, and more! When I send this to teachers to include with their newsletter, I also send ways for them to connect to SEL activities that were taught as well. For example, the following connections were shared in my last email that touched on lessons that will be taught this month:

Classroom connections:

Lesson: School Success

Interactive activity: Ask students to find organize themselves in groups according to the most difficult school success skills mentioned. A few skills that we will discuss include attendance, organization, asking for helping, focusing/paying attention, perseverance, etc. After they get in groups, ask each of them to find a buddy that is good at the skill that they find difficult and to brainstorm ways that they can work on that skill. Ask them to follow up with their buddy for the next several weeks to see how they are doing and if they need any help.

Lesson: Leadership

White board/sticky note activity:

Ask students to write on the white board or place sticky notes on the board of ways that they can show leadership at school, at home, and in our community. Encourage them to think of unique ways that others may not have already considered.

Lesson: Responsibility

Class discussion: What responsibilities do I have on my own at school (completing work, participating in class, asking for help when needed, not interrupting) and what responsibilities do we share in our classroom? How about our school (walking quietly in the hall, caring for our school garden, keeping our school clean)? What is most difficult for me and how can I improve on this?

Lesson: Character Trait Goals

Writing prompt: ask students to write about their experience of having other people describe them with a character trait. Ask them to write about why they think others thought those character traits described them, how it made them feel, and how they utilize those character traits as strengths at home, school, and in our community.

Posted in School Counseling Program

SEL Bulletin Board

I was running out of creativity this year after finishing my classroom bulletin board as to what I should do for the bulletin board I’m in charge of in the hallway. I decided to alternate between different character traits using the design & fonts provided in this TPT kit! Super kit and the kids love it. You will see some of the things mentioned in my beginning of year PowerPoint in this bulletin board, such as shout-outs and the teacher referral cards.

Posted in Classroom Guidance Lessons

First Day of School – What Do School Counselors Do & Student Icebreaker

The first day of each SEL class is always used to get to know the students and for the students to get to know you. This is the perfect time for school counselors to inform students of exactly what they do (all the things!) and to advocate for the counseling program at your school. This is a great lesson for the students to connect with you and learn more about you. I attached my PowerPoint at the bottom of this lesson so that you can see what I included in mine this year.

Lesson Title: Introductions – 1st Day of School PPT and Icebreaker Bingo

Grade(s): K-5

ASCA Standards:

  • A:A3.2 Demonstrate the ability to work independently, as well as the ability to work cooperatively with other students
  • PS:A2.7 Know that communication involves speaking, listening and nonverbal behavior

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to introduce themselves to others.
  • Students will be able to work together to complete their game.



  1. Begin by introducing yourself as the counselor. Use a PowerPoint to introduce who you are, your job (individual counseling, group counseling, social-emotional learning classes, other roles, etc.), the rules and procedures of your classroom or office (if needed), how students can be referred to you, and anything else that is important for students to know.
  2. Develop Classroom Values together as a class. Write these down. Explain that when you develop these classroom values together that we all must follow these as a team.
  3. Ask students if they have any questions, concerns, etc.
  4. Follow up with students on how their first few days/week has been going at school. Engage with students by asking the following questions: What have you been most excited about? What has been the scariest part of school? What is different about this year/grade than last year/grade? What do they most look forward to learning in SEL?
  5. Explain that students are now going to play a game called Find someone who… To win this game, they must complete all the boxes and have a friend write their name in the boxes that are true for them. Model for students how they can shake hands with each student that they meet, to introduce themselves by sharing their name (they may have forgotten), and to then say the other students name back in a sentence (this helps them to remember their name). Ask students what other things they should be doing when they are talking to someone or getting to know them, such as having their body face them with adequate space between each person, to look into the persons eyes when talking, and to smile when appropriate. Model for students how to play this game and how they might ask another student several questions to find what is true for them.  For example: “Hi! My name is Hannah. What’s your name? It’s nice to meet you Tom! Do you have an older brother or sister? How about your favorite color> What’s your favorite school subject? Math is my favorite too! Can you write your name in this box that says we share the same favorite subject? I can sign yours too if yours is still empty!”.
  6. Summarize what you have learned today and the skills that students have practiced. Express your excitement for the upcoming year and all that you will learn together!