Polka Dots

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Do's for Spring Break

I am off from school next week for Spring Break and have a long list of things that I want to accomplish. I am going to give myself one day to be a bum and then after that it's full speed ahead!

Here is what I want to accomplish, in no particular order:

  • paint kitchen (we're thinking a light cornflower blue)
  • plant a vegetable/herb garden
  • buy and fill planters of varying sizes to "hide" ugly heatpump on the patio
  • go to the dentist (I'm currently on a wait list because I waited too long to make the appointment - bummer!)
  • take Sadie to the vet for Rx refills and checkup
  • start on Christmas and birthday presents for nieces and sisters (I'm thinking bead and ribbon necklaces and flower headbands)
  • create and stock up on birthday and holiday cards
  • find a small table/chairs for the patio
  • trim the unruly boxwood in front of the house
  • take Sadie to the dog park a couple times
  • come up with Cooperation lessons for grades PreK-8 for April
  • make school-themed goody bags for grades 1-5 lunch bunches (ideas: smarties, erasers, pencils, stickers, small toy for each group's theme: train engine for 1st grade "I think I can", race car for 3rd grade "study skills expressway")

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sadie's Puppy Party

We celebrated our dog, Sadie's, first birthday on Saturday. Since we adopted her from the Humane Society and she was born in a barn, her birthday is just an estimate. She's about 1 year old now, so we decided to celebrate. Of course everything had to be pink! Actually her "colors" are pink and brown with accents of green. :)

We had a great time and I got to play around with my step-mother-in-law's Nikon D40 camera. These pictures were taken with her camera and I really like how they turned out. I'm looking to get my own "real" camera.

The Birthday Girl

The table spread -- Mini burgers (sliders), ham & cheese in puff pastry, cru di te and roasted red pepper dip, polka dot cupcakes, puppy chow, and assorted pink candies.

Close up of the sliders

Chocolate polka dot cupcakes

Everything in pink!

Birthday banner

Monday, March 22, 2010

March Virtue: Self Control

March is Self-Control Month! I had some requests from teachers to move this to the beginning of the school year, so that might be an idea for next year.

For most of my guidance lessons I focused on the Stop, Think, and Act process before speaking or acting. This is reflected in my bulletin board for this month.

In-between all of the stop lights with "Stop, Think, Act" written on them, there are some examples of how to show self-control.

5th Grade Self-Control Kites
I got this idea from this website, but changed it around a bit to fit my students. We discussed the quote on the kite "You can't always control the wind, but you can control your sails" and how it can be used in our own lives.

Close up of the kite and quote.

The kite tags read: "Stop and Think", "Manage Your Emotions", "Take Responsibility", and "Believe in Yourself". We discussed how each of these helps up to show better self-control.

The students really enjoyed making their kites and took pride in personalizing theirs. They will be hung in the hallway until the end of the month, but the kids are very eager to take them home.

6th Grade Self-Control Yield Signs
For my 6th grade lessons, we discussed how traffic signs can help us remember to use self-control. I found the inspiration here, but again changed it to meet our needs.

We discussed how it can be hard to show self-control when faced with temptations. Some of the temptations we talked about were dealing with anger in the wrong way (hitting, using foul language, saying mean things), spreading rumors or talking about someone behind their back, not taking responsibility (goofing around in class, talking in class, not completing work).

The yield signs says "Show SELF-CONTROL and have the DETERMINATION not to YIELD to temptations! God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13"

February Virtue: Citizenship

During the month of February, we focused on the virtue of Citizenship. This topic expanded on many of the virtues we had already be learning such as respect, responsibility, and stewardship. I thought the red, white, and blue star theme would be perfect for the bulletin board.

The board includes several ways to show citizenship:
  • Do your share to make your school, your community, and the world a better place.
  • Take responsibility for what goes on around you.
  • Be a good neighbor.
  • Follow the rules of your family, your school, and your community.
  • Treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Participate in community service.
  • Help take care of the environment.

In my middle school guidance lessons, we discussed the ideas of freedoms and responsibilities. The students were asked to list all of the different freedoms they were gaining now that they were older (cell phones, stay home alone, go out with friends, stay up later, etc). We then discussed how these new freedoms also came with new responsibilities (stay on top of texting and phone calls, be safe and responsible at home alone, get enough sleep, etc). We also talked about the future freedoms they would be gaining (driver's license, voting, buying cigarettes and alcohol) and what responsibilities would accompany those freedoms. The students were able to use real-life situations and this helped them to better understand the concept.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

December Virtue: Kindness

During the month of December, we focused on the virtue of Kindness. My favorite lesson from the month was Kindergarten. We read The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and discussed ways that we can show kindness both at school and at home through words and actions. The students shared their ideas of how they could show kindness to friends, siblings, parents, classmates, etc. We then created our own Kindness Quilt with paper. This lesson took a little bit of time to prep, but I think it was well worth it.

I took the quilt squares and mounted them together on a piece of butcher paper. The students were so excited when I presented them with their "paper quilt"!

Objective: Students will be able to distinguish the difference between kind and unkind words and actions and will be able to verbally and artistically describe kind acts.

The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Paper "Quilt" Squares (I took 5x5 inch scrapbooking squares and cut a 3.5x3.5 inch square of white printer paper and glued the two together. Each quilt square had a different pattern.)

1. Ask the students to explain what Kindness is and how we show it.
2. Ask for examples of how we show kindness with our words (saying "please" and "thank you", not calling names, asking friends to play, etc).
3. Ask for examples of how we show kindness with our actions (inviting others to play, not hitting/kicking/etc, following directions, etc).
4. Read the book The Kindness Quilt. Discuss the examples of kindness from the book.
5. Allow students to share examples of how they can show kindness.
6. Instruct students to draw a picture of how they show kindness on their own quilt square.
7. After lesson, glue quilt squares onto a large piece of butcher paper.

The Beginning

Well, here goes my attempt at a blog. The inspiration for this blog comes from my love of anything crafty as well as my love for my job as a school counselor. Any opportunity to meld the two together is bliss for me.

I wanted to start a blog for selfish reasons - I needed a place to jot down ideas, think through projects, and be able to keep all of my fun lessons and craft ideas in one place. I am often looking for fun ways to incorporate crafts into my guidance lessons and wanted to be able to share what I come up with. I spend a lot of time Googling ideas for bulletin boards, supplements to lessons, and fun group counseling activities but sometimes don't find what I am really looking for. So, on the occasion that I come up with (or in some cases tweak existing ideas) fun and crafty ideas, I thought it would be helpful to share them in case there are other school counselors out there looking for similar ideas.

So, I guess I should give a little background info on myself. My name is Ann and I am the full-time school counselor at a Catholic PreK-8th grade school in Northern Virginia. This is my second year at my school and I absolutely love my job! This year I started a new monthly virtues program for all grades. It is very similar to the character education programs adopted by many schools and districts around the country. Each month we focus on a different virtue and I conduct classroom guidance lessons touching on that month's virtue. It has been a great jumping off point for guidance lessons but still allows me the freedom to incorporate other topics into the monthly virtue. For example, the virtue for the month of November was Stewardship. I took a career exploration and education spin on the idea of stewardship with most of my lessons. In the lower grades, we focused on the importance of all jobs and the idea that all work has value. In the intermediate grades, we looked into talents and skills and how these can be used to better our community. With the middle schoolers, we took a career education approach, focusing on career clusters and interest surveys.

But, November wasn't one of the more "crafty" series of lessons, so I probably won't touch on that anymore.

Other things about me: I was born in St. Louis and am married to my high school sweetheart. My husband and I got married in June 2008, but celebrated our 10th anniversary as a couple in January 2010. We bought our first house in November 2008 and adopted our pound puppy, Sadie, in June 2009. Sadie will be celebrating her 1st birthday later this month and I have to admit I am going a little overboard with the party (but more on that later).

I think that's me and why I created this blog in a nutshell. I can't wait to post some ideas!