Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review!!! What's Under Your Cape?: Superheroes of the Character Kind

Hello Everyone!!  I just wanted to take a few minutes to share my review of one of my blogging friend's brand new book!!!  I have been following Barbara Gruener's blog for a number of years now, and although we have never met, I feel we are friends in real life!!!

Barbara Gruener, author of the Blog the Corner on Character, has recently published a very short but FANTASTIC book titled What's Under YOUR Cape:  Superheroes of the Character Kind!!!  You can purchase that book here!!

In a nutshell, if you love Barbara's blog, you will absolutely adore this book!!  She utilizes an acronym for the word SUPERHEROES, which really captures the essence of character!!!

She really really makes it feel like you are sitting there with her, retelling her wonderful stories of teaching and counseling students while incorporating character education!!  I really loved how she shared her character lessons and infused these stories with ideas to take it even further!!!  You can definitely hear Barbara singing throughout the book!!!

If you are planning to do ANY Character Education in the upcoming school year, I strongly suggest you read this book and incorporate it's lessons and ideas into your teaching/counseling!!

Please feel free to share this review!!!  THANKS!!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


As we finish up another school year, I start reflecting on this past year and start anticipating the next school year.  For one of my schools, that means change!   We are losing some staff to different buildings, some are retiring and grade levels are being changed around.  There has been a lot of different emotions circulating around the building this past month!

It got me thinking about changes I would like to make with my school counseling program, how I connect with students and parents, facilitating Play Therapy into my sessions, how I incorporate technology and how I want this blog to help me with those endeavors!!

Sometimes CHANGE is scary, but most times it is a great opportunity for growth!  It is with this opportunity for growth that I am looking at these areas for change.

Change is defined by as:  


  [cheynj]  Show IPA
verb (used with object), changed, chang·ing.
to make the form, naturecontent, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone: to change one's nameto change one's opinion; to change the course of history.

As I begin this endeavor for change, I will start posting about how that progress is going.  Many of you know that I really enjoy and practice Play Therapy in my school counseling program.  I want to incorporate more of that into this forum.  You may even see some changes to this blog (hint hint, maybe in the form of a new name and new style)!!  Stay tuned for the updates!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Great Resource With a Fun Name!!

Hello Everyone!  Today I want to share a great resource for small group counseling or classroom guidance lessons.  This resource has the very FUN name of 104 Activities That Build:  Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger Management, Self-Discovery and Coping Skills, By Alanna Jones.

This school year, I ran a half-of-year 5th grade group called "Emotions and Me".  I used this book many times over the course of this group because it had soooo many great activities and the kids really loved doing them!!!  This group of kids needed a little more to do than usual and this book's activity suggestions was right on the mark!!!  THANK YOU, Ms. Alanna Jones!!!

Some of the kid's favorite activities were: "Action Emotions," "The Way We Were," "Emotions in Motion" and "Emotion Bench." The kids loved the role plays and other games and we even came up with similar ideas to do as a group!!

This book is very easy to read and doesn't require a lot of pre-group preparation.  The book is divided by topic so you can focus on what you need to.  For this group, I used activities from the Self-Discovery section.  Each activity lists an objective, a description of who would benefit from this activity, group size, materials needed, a description of how to do the activity and discussion questions!  How cool is that?!

Ms. Jones has several other books including The wRECking Yard of Games and Activities; Team-Building Activities For Every Group; and More Team-Building Activities for Every Group.  She also has a Team Up board game!!

How have you used this book in counseling?  I'd love to hear your ideas too!!!  Thanks, AnnMarie

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Turning Yard Sale Bargains into Social Skills Practice!!!

Hello everybody!!  I thought I would take a few moments to share some of my fantastic yard sale finds and share how I have been utilizing them to build social skills with my students!! 

I love yard sale-ing and always look for things that I can incorporate therapeutically and on the cheap!!!  Some things I try to ask myself when at a yard sale are: what skills can I re-enforce, does this have a therapeutic rationale, will the kids like it and is it safe?

Recently, I have come across a few great games that I have used many times with various age groups with much success.  Many of these games are $0.50 to $3.00!  That is a great price for anything that can be used therapeutically!!!!!

My most recent find, for $1, was the Mattel game Ker Plunk!®  This game requires players to remove plastic sticks from a container filled with marbles resting on the sticks.  The object is to not let all of the marbles fall!!  For social skills practice, this game is great for thinking ahead, problem solving, using logical thinking, recognizing anticipation, taking risks and dealing with defeat!  Not bad for $1!!!  This has been a big hit, especially with the 4th grade social skills group.  It has been requested numerous times!!

Another nice find has been a Parker Brothers Clue, Jr., Case of the Missing Pet Game®.  I think that one was $0.50 ( the side of the box was ripped!!).   The object is to determine information about the missing pet by eliminating characters, locations and what pet was stolen.  This is great social skills practice for building communication, telling the truth, not blurting, problem solving, logical thinking, practicing waiting your turn and deduction/inferencing skills.  This game is nice for a larger group, 1-6 players and ages 6-10!!!  The kids have also enjoyed this game.  They love to "figure it all out"!

The last game that I want to share from a yard sale find is called Pappa's Pizza Pile-Up® from i-Play!!  I never heard of this game before but knew from reading the box that this would be an instant success!!  It is a game where you have to pile on various toppings of cheese, mushrooms, peperoni, and tomatoes ( all different weights and sizes) onto the pizza gently resting on Pappa's pointer finger without tipping it over!!!  This can be very challenging and a great way to talk about emotions such as nerve-racking, courage and perfectionism.  It is a great way to find out about risk-taking, handling defeat, responding to challenges, following directions and waiting your turn.  Great fun!  If you see this one while yard sale-ing pick it up pronto!!!!

What do you look for at Yard Sales?


Sunday, February 9, 2014

1st Grade Lunch Bunch Love!!

Today, as Valentine's day approaches, I want to share with you what some of our 1st graders LOVE about my Lunch Bunch!  These kiddos are learning to write a descriptive paragraph.

  One of the things the teacher had them write about was what they LOVED about Lunch Bunch!!  I was so impressed and honored by what they had to say!!  I really love how they captured my office where we have Lunch Bunch in their drawings! 

So far this year, I have had lunch with almost every student in the school minus Kindergarten because they are here 1/2 day.  I have had the pleasure of having lunch with all three classes of 1st graders, some I have had Lunch Bunch with twice!!

I made a photo collage of their descriptive paragraphs and drawings!  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!  They kids really showed my their LOVE for LUNCH BUNCH!!!!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy New Year 2014?

Happy New Year 2014!!! Yes, I know I'm 17 days late!  Yes, I know I haven't blogged in 2 months, Yikes!!  It has been very hectic to say the least!!!

This year I am striving for more time to blog about the great things going on at my schools!!!  I am making more time for doing things I love, like writing this blog and connecting with other school counselors.  There is so much I want to share, which I plan on doing over the next few weeks!

Today was in-service day for us, which in my district means an early start and and an early leave for staff!!  For me, that meant restocking some of my most used therapy items!  Can you say retail therapy?

I headed over to my local A.C. Moore, which happened to be having some great sales!!!  Bonus!!  Some of the items in my basket were items for my worry group like the embroidery floss, doll's hair, wooden clothespins, wood paint, paint brushes and super cute wooden heart boxes!  I also got some Model Magic and sculpting clay.  Loom bands were on sale, so I picked up some extra of those and a mini loom for bracelets.  I also got a very small pool game that I can't wait to use with my lunch bunch!

I can't wait until the kids see all of the new stuff I got and we can use it during our counseling sessions or small groups!!!  It's so amazing to see the kids really work when simple crafts items are used therapeutically!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How Did It Get to be November Already?, and a list of Favorite School Counselor Blogs!!

Greetings everyone!!!  As the title ponders How Did It Get to be November Already?  I know I have had bit of writer's block and yet at other times I have wanted to write so much but haven't had the time.   As I am thinking about how much I enjoy reading other school counseling blogs, I think to myself, "its been a while since I blogged, I should write something today!!"
So today's blog is just going to be a quick list of other school counselor blogs that I enjoy reading and learning from!  They are truly inspirational and I aspire to be a better blogger because of them.

Here is the list in no particular order:

The Corner on Character,  written by my friend Barbara!!

JYJ Counselor, written by my friend Andrea!!

School Counselor Blog, written by a colleague, Danielle, that I met at ASCA 13!!

Entirely Elementary, written by my friend, Dr. Fuller!

Elementary School Counseling, written by Marissa!

Scrapbook of a School Counselor, written by Tabitha!

Savvy School Counselor, written by Vanessa!

The Counseling Geek, written by Jeff!

There is also a well put together school counselor blogroll but together by Dr. Mason, which you can find here: SCOPE!!