Friday, April 22, 2011

Compliments, Self-Esteem, and Bucket-Filling!

I love all of the different bucket-filling books that exist. I recently used bucket-filling books in the self-esteem group I co-facilitate with my intern. This activity teaches students how to give quality compliments and creates a bucket-filling extravaganza! 

Bucket-filling books and supplies
Bucket-Filling Books
For this activity, I read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud to students and briefly showed them other examples of how buckets could be filled or emptied from How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life by Carol McCloud. All of the bucket-filling books are great at explaining bucket-filling and how buckets can be filled or emptied. (Side note: How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life by Carol McCloud were received through a funded project on Donors Choose! Read more about how to get funded.)

Bucket-Filling Supplies
I wanted students to experience real-life bucket-filling by actually filling real buckets.  I went in search of buckets online and in stores. I found plastic buckets for $1.00 at Michael's Arts & Craft Store and used a 20% off coupon to bring them down to $0.80 before taxes.  They are colorful and just the right size!

I used my Cricut paper cutter to cut hearts, stars, and flower shapes out of card stock to resemble the shapes the buckets were filled with in Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. There are seven students in the group so I made enough cut outs that each girl would be able to write at least six compliments. I made lots of extra cut outs just in case. 

You could also make water drops, which would go with How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath.


A bucket ready to be filled
with quality compliments!
Activity: Compliments, Self-Esteem, and Bucket-Filling!
After reading students Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and and parts of How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath, we had a discussion about bucket-filling. We talked about ways you could fill a bucket. Student examples included, "by being kind to others," "sitting with someone at lunch,""standing up for someone if they are being bullied," and "giving someone compliments." We also talked about ways a bucket could be emptied. Student examples included, "bullying someone," "being mean to people," "fighting," and "spreading rumors." I reiterated that you can't fill your bucket by "dipping" or taking from another person's bucket. When that happens both buckets are emptied. 

We also had a discussion about how you would use a "lid" for your bucket from Growing Up with a Bucket Full of Happiness: Three Rules for a Happier Life. A "lid" can be used in situations where someone is trying to dip from your bucket.  Suggestions students had were, "walk away," "ignore the person until you can get help," "tell an adult you trust," and "tell the person that you don't like they way they are treating you."

"You are a good friend!"
I was exited that one of the students mentioned giving compliments as a way to fill a bucket, because that is exactly what we did! I gave each student a bucket and die cut hearts, flowers, and stars. I explained to students that we were going to be real-life bucket-fillers by giving compliments to each other. Students were so excited that they got their very own buckets to fill!

I asked if anyone could explain what it means to give a compliment. Students gave some examples about outward appearance like "I like your jeans" or "Your hair is cute." I explained to students that we are going to strive for quality compliments, which are compliments about the actual person.  My intern explained that quality compliments are something someone just walking by would not notice about the person.

I asked students if they could think of examples of quality compliments.  Some ideas included compliments about someone's personality, ways the person is a good friend, a skill or talent the person has, or how the person makes you feel.

"I like the way you stay out of drama!"
We passed out markers and students got to work writing compliments for each member of the group. Students were so engaged in the writing of compliments. Students filled out all of their cut outs and wanted to write more to other people, including my intern and me! They asked us where our buckets were! Luckily, I bought extra buckets so my intern and I also participated. We wrote compliments to each of the students and they all wrote us one too! It was a lot of fun and they did a great job of making the compliments quality compliments! Students even wanted to create a bucket for the group! They wrote compliments about the whole group, which was very powerful and thoughtful of them. Once they started filling buckets the positivity was overflowing! It truly was a bucket-filling extravaganza!

After everyone was finished writing out their compliments, each student had an opportunity to sit in my big, comfy, bowl chair and get their bucket filled by the group.  After each girl got a chance to sit in the chair and get their bucket filled, we went back to our seats and read our compliments. For time sake we didn't have time to read each compliment aloud to each student, but I am sure it would have been even more meaningful!

Everyone wanted to take some cut outs with them to write to other students and teachers! (Good thing I made extra!) They were so excited about bucket-filling and giving each other compliments. Students loved this activity and were so excited to take their bucket full of compliments with them! It was really great activity and it definitely filled my bucket too!

This activity would make a great last session for pretty much any kind of group. It gives students something they can keep to remind them of the group and group members. This would also be a great end of year celebration activity for a class, even a graduate level school counseling class!!!

Have you used any of the bucket-filling books in your work with students? Which books did you use and what activities have you facilitated? Comment below, email metweet, 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.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"It's What's on the Inside That Counts!"

I am currently running a group for children with a loved one in jail. One of the activities I have facilitated with my group is the kiwi lesson.  The kiwi lesson can be used to address many different topics including stigma, shame, diversity, tolerance, body image, and more.  This lesson is fun and engaging. It worked especially well in the context of this group.

The idea for the kiwi lesson comes from The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide by Erin Gruwell.  In the book there is a lesson called the "Peanut Game." I decided to use a kiwi instead of peanuts because of how colorful kiwis are on the inside and to avoid any allergies. 

At the beginning of the activity I pass out a kiwi to each child. I instruct students to explore the outside of the kiwi and to make a list of as many adjectives as they can that describe the kiwi.  I recommend having students pair up to do this part with one student recording the words at a time.  After everyone has come up with the list for the outside of the kiwi, I ask students to share some of the adjectives they come up with. Students usually use words such as ugly, hairy, gross, creepy, etc.  

I then pass out plates, plastic knives and plastic spoons to the children. I instruct them to cut the kiwi in half and scoop the center out with a spoon to taste it. I then instruct students to record a list of words that describe the inside of the kiwi and how it tastes.   I again ask students to share their adjectives with the group. Students use words like sweet, sour, bright, tasty, colorful, cheerful, etc.  

At this point, I ask students to explain what they notice about their two lists of adjectives. Someone usually points out that the words for the outside are negative and the words for the inside are more positive. Students usually also say something like "If I just looked at the kiwi, I wouldn't eat it," or "It tastes really good but you wouldn't know that by looking at it." 

This begins a discussion about being judged and stigma.  We talk about how people sometimes make assumptions about each other because of how they look or the way they dress.  Students share stories about times they were judged by the way they dress, how dark or light their skin is, their religion, background, ethnicity, etc. 

I ask students what they think the take-away message is for this lesson.  Students say "Don't judge someone by the outside," and "It's what's on the inside that counts!"

I wanted students to be able to have a keepsake from the lesson so I cut out brown circles and bright green circles out of card stock using my cricut. After the lesson, students were glued their kiwi pieces together and decorated the inside of the kiwi with seeds.  I invited them to write a message they learned from the lesson on their kiwi.

Card stock circles
Completed kiwi
Students were excited to have a take away from this lesson. They also really enjoyed having a kiwi snack! They keep asking me, "when do we get to eat those fuzzy brown things again?" :)

What lessons do you facilitate that teach students, "It's what's on the inside that counts!"? Comment below, email metweet, 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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Goal Mountain

Looking for a visual way to display students' goals? Goal Mountain serves as a visual reminder that students can take positive "steps" to reach their goals.

At the beginning of the Goal Mountain session I explain to students we are going to make a mountain representing our goals and the positive "steps" we can take to reach our goals. As a group we brainstorm some ideas of what types of goals we might have. Students usually suggest future goals, career goals, interpersonal goals and school goals.

After we talk about some potential goal ideas, I instruct students to think of a goal they would like to work towards. I give each student a cloud to record their goal. I instruct students to use colored pencilsmarkers, or construction paper crayons to record their goal on their cloud. Some examples of students' goals include, "to go to college," "stay in school," "get along with my brothers and sisters more," and "get better grades."

After the clouds are finished, we begin working on the positive "steps" we can take to reach our goals. I ask them to brainstorm positive "steps" they could take to reach their goal.  Once students come up with "steps," I instruct them to trace their feet on a 12"x 18"piece of construction paper and cut them out. Students then record the positive "steps" on their feet using colored pencils, markers, or construction paper crayons. For example, if the goal is "get better grades" positive "steps" would be to "ask the teacher for help," "study," "use a planner to record homework," etc.  Students can write multiple "steps" on each foot or they can record one "step" per foot.

After everyone is finished, we share our goals with the group.  We then pick spots on the Goal Mountain where we want our feet to go.  I then tape all of the clouds and feet to the mountain.

To make my Goal Mountain, I ripped pieces of purple roll paper to make a mountain shape.  I then used a white piece of construction paper to make the snowy tip.  I used stick on fabric letters I found on clearance at Michael's Arts and Crafts store and construction paper to make the "Goal Mountain" title.

The Goal Mountain pictured is the actual Goal Mountain I am using in my current group. I edited the picture so that student goals and "steps" are not visible. I have our Goal Mountain displayed on my window.

Students really enjoy this activity. It is a fun and positive way to talk about goals and the steps we need to take to reach them. Goal Mountain could be used for a variety of different groups. I currently use Goal Mountain in my groups with children who have an incarcerated parent or loved one.

What activities do you facilitate related to goals? Do you have a favorite visual group activity?Comment below, email metweet, 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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Healing Heart

I am currently co-facilitating a grief and loss group with my counseling intern.  The group has been very powerful and I think it has a lot to do with the activities we are doing in the group.

One of the first activities we did was a healing heart.  We used large red roll paper to cut out a gigantic heart.  We then cut the heart into squiggly lined pieces. We made enough pieces so that each member of the group and both of us would have a piece.  We then labeled the back of the heart so we would remember how it went back together.  Note: I highly recommend doing that! It made it so much easier to put it back together.

During our first group session, we explained to students that everyone in the group has experienced a loss or multiple losses of people they care about.  We passed out a piece of the heart to each student.  We instructed them that they could use the piece of the heart to draw a picture, write a memory, share a message, or decorate how ever they wanted to honor the losses they have experienced. Students utilized crayons, markers, and colored pencils to write on their heart pieces.  

After everyone was done working on their heart piece, we asked if anyone wanted to share what they created.  Everyone was open and willing to share their creation with the group. We had the students help us put the heart back together. We used tape to affix the heart on to a window in my office. We passed out bandages to students and had them put bandages on the parts of the heart where the pieces met each other.

We explained that although our hearts have been broken by the losses we have experienced, together as a group we can heal. The heart is hanging in a prominent place visible to the students and serves as a constant reminder of how we are healing together each week in group.

Students' reactions to this activity were pretty amazing. They could understand the symbolism and really enjoyed participating in this activity. Students were very open and willing to share and I feel this provided a great medium to express themselves.  This activity also fostered group cohesion and connected the students from beginning of the group. Students were able to see they were not the only ones experiencing a loss.

We took a picture of the heart and gave a copy to each student to keep. In a subsequent session awe created memory boxes and we gave students a copy of the to put in their memory box. This activity would also be appropriate for groups focusing on incarceration, military deployment, divorce, or any other group focusing on a loss of some kind.

The picture in this post is the actual healing heart we made in group. I edited the picture so students' writings and drawings are not visible.

For more ideas, check out my previous post about using a balloon release as a culminating activity and my post about other groups I facilitate.

What activities do you facilitate in grief and loss groups? Comment below, email metweet, 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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