Over the past two weeks, our Kindergarteners have been working with "Al" to try to teach him how to behave at school and in other situations. Some of the main topics covered with Al have included behavior in public versus private settings, on the playground, and when sharing a meal. We will also play a funny game and discuss having good manners when someone gives us a gift--especially one we aren't crazy about or already have. Here are some links to a few of the video clips we watched in class--http://disney.go.com/disneyjunior/can-you-teach-my-alligator-manners/can-you-teach-my-alligator-manners-videos-episodes
This week in Guidance, our Kindergarten students attended Personal Space Camp. Our essential question was, “How can I show respect for others’ personal space?” We read the book, Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook. This book is about a boy named Louis who is very knowledgeable about outer space, but has some difficulty respecting the personal space of others.
We participated in several activities to explore the concept of personal space. Kindergarteners used a hula hoop to demonstrate the amount of personal space that we all need at school and learned that we all have a “comfort bubble”. The size of our comfort bubble varies based on our surroundings. For example, our comfort bubble will be much larger when we are near a stranger or in a new situation than when we are at home with our family. We discussed ways that someone’s body language or facial cues might signal to us that we are not respecting their personal space. We discovered how much personal space we take up on the carpet when we are standing or sitting versus lying down. Students also enjoyed making the “space orb” light up as they practiced asking their classmates for permission to touch their hand. We also practiced how showing respect for personal space when walking in line with our classmates.
We emphasized that our personal space belongs to us. Just as each of us acts as the “boss” of our hands, feet and words, we decide who can and cannot come into our personal space.
This week, we read another of my favorite books, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. This book tells the story of Lilly, a mouse who loves school. Lilly's favorite thing about school is her teacher, Mr. Slinger. Lilly is very excited one day to come to school with a brand new purple, plastic purse filled with her treasures. The special thing about her purse is that it "plays a jaunty tune when it is opened". Lilly has a really tough time waiting until "sharing time" to show her purse and its treasures to her classmates. After several unsuccessful attempts at redirection, Mr. Slinger places Lilly's purse in his desk until the end of the day. At first, Lilly is very sad, but the more she thinks about the situation, the more angry she becomes until she decides to get revenge by drawing an unflattering picture of Mr. Slinger. When Mr. Slinger returns her purse along with a note and some snacks at the end of the day, her anger turns to remorse, she talks with her parents and makes a very sincere apology to Mr. Slinger the following day at school.
After hearing the story, we talked about what it means to say "I'm sorry". We role played some different situations and practiced using a sincere voice to say "I'm sorry". We also discussed what we could do in these situations to help the other person whether we were saying "I'm sorry" to the other person for something we did accidentally or on purpose. We compared saying "I'm sorry" to putting a band-aid on a scrape. Although scrape is not instantly healed, it does make it better, but it would have been best if we had not gotten hurt at all.
Each of the students received a purple heart cut-out. We discussed some hurtful things that we sometimes hear such as, "I'm not inviting you to my birthday party", "You can't play with us", and "If you don't ________, then I am not your friend". Each time someone shared an example, we wadded the heart shape into a ball, then tried to flatten it again as we said, "I'm sorry". We observed that the heart did not look the same at the end of our lesson as it did at the beginning. Using a band-aid, we attached the poem,
Before you speak
Think and be smart
Its hard to fix
A wrinkled heart.
The students took the heart home as a reminder of the power of our words to hurt or help others.
Here is an article from Parent's magazine about teaching your child to say, "I'm sorry".
I asked the students in our Kindergarten classes this week to raise their hand if they had ever heard someone suggest that they "use their words" when having problem with a friend. Most of them raised their hand. Then, I asked them, "Who knows what that means?" No one raised their hand.
This week we learned one strategy for communicating our feelings and needs with others. This strategy is called an "I-feel Message". The Kindergarteners practiced "building" "I-feel" messages this week using Lego blocks with words and pictures. The first step in building one of these messages is taking a deep breath and calming down if we are angry or upset.
The second step is determining if an "I-feel" message is appropriate for the situation. Usually we can tell if an "I-feel" message is appropriate by the way we feel. If we are unsafe, scared, tearful or too mad, an "I-feel" message may not be strong enough and help from a teacher or parent is necessary. However, if we are frustrated, annoyed or a little sad/angry, an "I-feel" message may be able to help solve the problem.
As we build these "I-feel" messages, we must answer 3 questions. The first question is: How am I feeling? The second questions is: "What happened that made me feel this way?" The third question is: "What could I ask the person to do to make this better for me?" For example, "I feel angry when you jump in front of me in line. I want you to please step back behind me."
Our kindergarten students were very good at "building" these messages using pretend situations in class. Some students even reported that they had success trying this strategy in a real life situation with a friend. Here is an article that talks about "I-feel" messages and other ideas for helping your child or children resolve conflicts.
This week in Guidance, we continued to talk about feelings; however, our focus shifted from identifying how other people are feeling to ways that we can cope with our own negative emotions. We read the books When Emily Woke Up Angry by Raina Duncan and When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman. We brainstormed and practiced many things that we can do to help us calm down when dealing with negative feelings through the use of classroom centers. Some of the students favorite strategies shown in the picture are described here.
This week in Guidance, we talked about feelings. We read Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis and played several different games to help develop our emotional vocabulary and awareness of the feelings of others. Your child will benefit from having an expansive emotional vocabulary in many ways. It plays a large role in helping your child build empathy—a skill that is essential in showing caring behavior toward others. It also helps your child read social cues—a skill that will help them better monitor people's reactions to their behaviors and respond in a socially appropriate manner. Children who are able to identify and express their own feelings are also going to be much more effective in resolving conflicts with peers.
Here is a website that you might enjoy trying at home:
This week in Guidance, we read one of my favorite books--Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud. This book introduces the concepts of self esteem and bullying in a simple and concrete way that even young children can conceptualize by saying that everyone carries around an invisible bucket. The purpose of the bucket is to hold your good thoughts and good feelings about yourself. When your bucket is full you feel happy, loved, special etc, but when your bucket is empty, you feel sad, lonely and left out.
Your child also learned that we have the choice to either fill people’s buckets through kind interactions or to dip into people’s buckets by using unkind words and actions. We even spent a little time practicing filling our classmate’s buckets this week. We will refer back to this book all year during our Guidance lessons. Please ask your child about this lesson. I hope your child is having a fantastic year in Kindergarten so far. If I can be of any assistance at all, do not hesitate to call or email me.
Dear Kindergarten Families:
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with your child’s class over the past few weeks and I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who are new to our school. My name is Jennifer Banner and I am the School Counselor at Towne Acres Elementary School.
As part of our school counseling program, a guidance lesson will be presented to your child’s class twice a week. Our lessons will focus on topics such as respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, goal setting, making safe decisions, career exploration and being a good citizen. We will be using the book 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey as a guiding theme this school year. Throughout the school year, I will send information home about the topics we discuss.
In addition to classroom guidance, individual and small group counseling services are also available to students as needs arise. Individual counseling may be requested by parents, teachers, or the students themselves. All school counseling services are provided with strict adherence to the highest legal and ethical standards. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime by phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please let me know how I can help make your child's school year a successful one!