Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seasonal Find: Animal Crackers

End of the season sales are a great time to stock up on items to use in your school counseling office! I love getting a good deal. I especially enjoy end of the season sales! At end of season sales you can find products at deeply discounted prices. Stores want to sell products fast so they have room to merchandise for the next season. I have found some great deals on items for use in my school counseling office at end of season sales. The end of the Halloween season is an especially good time to stock up on items!

This week I will be highlighting a few seasonal Halloween items to utilize in your school counseling office!

Seasonal Find: Animal Crackers
Animal Crackers are available in stores year round in large animal cracker containers, 1 ounce animal cracker bags, and 2 ounce animal cracker bags.

During the Halloween season, grocery stores and department stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, and K-Mart sell "Trick or Treat" packs of animal crackers in 0.6 ounce bags and 0.5 ounce bags.  I like the "Trick or Treat" size bags because they contain just enough animal crackers to use for an activity and serve as a small snack for students.

The end of the Halloween season is my favorite time to purchase animal crackers because they can be discounted anywhere from 30%-75% off of the original price.  I found "Trick or Treat" packages of animal crackers containing 20 individual sealed bags for $1.50 at Target (50% off the original price) the day after Halloween.

How to use Animal Crackers in School Counseling

I use animal crackers as an icebreaker or opening activity for individual counseling sessions, group counseling sessions, and during new student groups/orientation. The animal cracker activity can be used with students in all grade levels!

For the animal cracker activity, I give each student a pack of animal crackers. I instruct students to open the package and examine the animals in the pack. I ask students to find an animal with a personality or characteristics similar to their own. I explain to students if they cannot find an animal they are looking for, they can pretend one of their animal crackers is that animal.  Once all of the students have chosen an animal cracker, I have them share which animal they picked and how it is like them.

I am always impressed with the responses students give for this activity.  Students put a lot of thought into how they are like the animal the picked.

I used the animal cracker activity during one of my internships with a new student group of 10th graders. During the activity, one student shared that the animal he identified with the most was, "a pony."
I asked him, "how do you feel you are similar to a pony?"
The student responded, "I'm like a pony because everyone's always on my back!"

I used the animal cracker activity in a group I ran this week with 6th grade students. After the students picked the animal that was most like them, I had them share with the group how the qualities and/or characteristics of their chosen animal are similar to their own. One student responded, "I chose a lion because I am the king of my house." I asked the student if he could share what it means to be "king of his house." He stated, "My dad is not around... I am in charge of making sure everyone is ok."

There are many variations and questions that could be used for this activity.  In an individual session a student could be asked, "Which animal do you most identify with and how?" As a follow up, the student could be asked to share which animal crackers represent family members and/or friends.

School counselors could also use animal crackers to talk about how students react or feel in certain situations, by asking "When do you feel most like a lion?" or " When do you feel most like a monkey?"

Using animal crackers in group and individual sessions is a welcome surprise for students. Not only do they get a snack, but they get to participate in a fun activity as well.

How do you use animal crackers in your work with students?

What seasonal finds do you use in your work with students? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.



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