Object Lesson on Coping

I just saw the coolest lesson on learning to cope with negative emotions, and I had to share.

I don’t have any visuals because I haven’t done it myself yet, and I can’t even find a reference to it through my Google search, so you’ll have to go through my description.  I definitely can’t take credit for this idea…it came from a counselor named Sarah in one of my school counseling groups. I don’t know if she has a blog or anything, but I hope she makes one because this is genius!

The lesson is simple but so amazing.download

You begin by telling a story where a child gets in trouble due to a reaction to anger. For example, Johnny and Sarah both want to play on the computer during free time. They toss a coin and Sarah wins the 15 minutes on the computer. Johnny is so angry that he doesn’t get to play, he throws his shoe at the computer.

Why did Johnny get in trouble?

Most kids will say because he threw his shoe, but the real reason Johnny is in trouble is because he failed to cope with his emotions.

This gives you an opportunity to discuss how it is OK to get angry or disappointed, but it how we react to these feelings that is important.

Now here’s the fun part.

Take a paper cup and put water in it. Explain that the water represents your poor decisions and reactions (throwing things, saying bad words, hitting something, etc).  Now, take a pencil. The pencil is anger or disappointment. Begin poking holes in the bottom of the cup so that the water spills out.

Explain that this is what happens when we don’t learn ways to cope with our emotions.  Now is the time to bring out your “magic” coping skills. Take a new cup with a bit of water in it and sprinkle some “magic” coping dust into the cup. The magic dust? The beads from the inside of a disposable diaper! After you sprinkle these in, take your pencil and poke holes in the cup again. The beads should have absorbed all the water and prevented the water from spilling out.


What an amazing visualization for young kids on the power of managing our emotions.




College Exploration: March Madness Style

I normally do my college lessons with middle school around March because that’s right before they go to the high school to sign up for classes.  I do lessons on high school graduation requirements and then lead right in to my college lessons.

The point of college lessons in middle school is simple: exposure.  Just like kids repeat the language and behaviors they see and hear repeatedly on the radio, on TV, or on social media, the hope with all character education is that the more we expose a child to something positive, the more likely he is going to let it sink in and begin mimicking it and then living it.

image pulled from Pinterest.com

image pulled from Pinterest.com

Do I think every child has to go to college? No.  But I do think every child needs to know they can go to college. So, every year, I let them just explore a variety of different colleges. Sometimes we use campustours.com or youvisit.com and explore as a class, and sometimes I let them roam the web and explore universities they’ve heard of.

This year, I decided to do a little bit of a March Madness theme! Using a tournament style bracket, students will narrow 16 different colleges and universities down to their one favorite “championship school”. This will be done over 3 rounds where they will investigate location, programs of study, and tuition.

After choosing their favorite school, they will then fill out a fake application to the school and return to me.

The next class period, I will present them with an acceptance letter from the school to which they applied.  With their acceptance letter is what I call a “Frame of Reference” admissions packet (only because I used a lot of cute frames on the page, ha!). They will use this page to delve deeper into the school to which they were accepted!

I am SO stinkin’ excited about this!  If you’re interested, you can grab it in my TpT store by clicking the image below.


There’s Still Hope

So, I started this blog to share lessons and resources because I firmly believe that our society is in desperate need of moral face-lift, so to speak. More specifically, I feel as though our youth are suffering greatly in the character department. And I think that, as an adult, I am directly responsible for helping to change this.

I have been provided with an excellent example, and I feel compelled to share.

I posted Monday about the TN Ready test failing. And I made light of the situation because honestly, that’s all I know how to do.  It is a travesty, and it is pathetic. But I posted my opinion because, as a counselor, I feel like these tests are detrimental to the development of my students. And frankly, I’m pissed about it. It didn’t fall in line with my normal content, but I still felt it was relevant.

I received an overwhelming amount of visitors to this particular post and some great feedback.  I only received one negative email out of over 12,000 visitors, but it was one that provided me with some excellent content to bring me back to the entire point of this blog: character education.

The email came with the subject: Fat Lazy Counselor.

I’m presuming that’s me.

Here are some snippets:

…You would laugh. You’re not a teacher…You’re JUST a counselor…

…Thank God you’re not my kids counselor…

… Don’t defend yourself either…

This, my friends, is why I started this blog.

The email address was a fake and the insults were slung before the content even began. This is the world we’re in: where we feel that it is completely acceptable to send an anonymous communication to someone that we’ve never met and call them names.

Where we feel it is appropriate to demean others and belittle their existence simply because we don’t agree with something they’ve written.

Please don’t be fooled into thinking this hurt my feelings. My feelings are fine, but my heart really hurts. It hurts to think that adults behave this way, and it makes me question how there could possibly be hope for future generations when this is the example we are setting. But then I remember…

Out of 12,000 views, there was only one.

How cool is that? Only one person felt like insults were appropriate. Only one person felt like demeaning me was acceptable.  Only one person thought that hiding behind their computer screen made them unaccountable for what they were saying.


This gives me hope.


You Have 50 Minutes

If you’re an educator in Tennessee this evening, you would have to be living under a very large rock to have missed the hoopla going on with the TNReady testing.

This is Tennessee’s new and “improved” standardized assessment.  It was to be administered in two parts: Part I in February and Part II in May. And it was all going to be ONLINE!

As a testing coordinator in a Title I school, you can imagine my excitement (this is my sarcasm font). I was dreading testing 3rd-8th grade on 40 computers. I was dreading scheduling. I was dreading 9 year olds having to type! I was dreading February testing (hello, snow days?). And most of all, I was dreading TESTING.

It wasn’t all negative, though (I am a counselor, after all). It was going to be less paper (yay trees!). We wouldn’t have to call and beg for proctors. We wouldn’t have any test to unpack and pack and label and mail. No paper cuts. It was going to be fine. Except for, you know, the testing.

Fast forward to today….

It didn’t work.

That’s right. The test didn’t work. The platform fizzled. The kids couldn’t test.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean, every educator I know loathes state testing.  They hate that they can’t teach because they have to test.  They hate that their students can’t learn because they are taking practice tests instead. The kids are tested to death. There’s no time for fun. No time for friends. I had a student compare school to a prison, and I could no longer disagree with him.


So, when the test broke. I giggled. But only for a short second, because then we get the call that it will all be paper and pencil again. That’s an entirely different beast in the world of testing coordination. I was frustrated at the reconfiguration, but I was mostly frustrated that this is what we’ve come down to. We’re going to test our kids to death. We’ve been doing it for years, but I feel like I’ve reached my tipping point. So, because you seem to like tests so much, I have a test question for everyone that works in the Department of Education.


Consider the following evidence:

  1. Finland has an educational system with a high emphasis on play, no standardized testing, no school evaluations, and a focus on the CHILD (not necessarily the student). source: EdWeek
  2. According to Stanford, Finland ranks 6th in math, 2nd in science, and 3rd in reading. In comparison, the United States was 30th, 23rd, and 17th, respectively.

Using the evidence above, write an informational text as to how more standardized testing, less instruction, and less free-play will lead to an increase in these rankings and a betterment of the United States.

You have 50 minutes.

Good Sportsmanship

With the Super Bowl coming up (Go Panthers!), I decided to use this week to discuss good sportsmanship with my Kindergarten-2nd graders.

For this lesson, we watched a Howard B. Wigglebottom story on sportsmanship. Howard is good at everything and wins all the time. Until he doesn’t.

Howard is a poor loser and a terrible teammate. The kids can really relate because they see (or do!) this type of behavior in P.E. or youth club sports.  There’s an interactive lesson and a song that goes with it.

After, we played a game to test their sportsmanship. I had them sit in a circle and take off their shoes (!).

I have GOT to get better about taking pictures during class because this was so much fun.

They sit in a circle with their shoes off, and they have to pass the ball all the way around the circle…using ONLY their feet!  If the ball touches the ground or anyone uses their hands to touch the ball, we start all over.

If anyone exhibits bad sportsmanship, they are out until the ball makes it all the way around.

The kids had SO much fun with this and so did I!

Afterwards, the 1st and 2nd graders wrote about a time when they had shown good sportsmanship, and the Kinders drew a pictures.

I made both templates available for free in my TpT store. Just click the image below, and enjoy!