Friendship Chain--1st Grade Guidance Lesson

Creating an environment where children feel accepted and welcome is something we strive to do at my school. In 2nd grade I do a lesson with the book "Have You Filled A Bucket Today?", but was in search of a 1st grade lesson that would essentially teach the same lesson, but in a different way. I came up with a lesson I call "Friendship Chain." In the beginning of the lesson we read the book, "Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale" by Marcus Pfister. The book is about getting to know others rather than passing judgement on them. The "Big Blue Whale" keeps staring at all of the fish and the fish assume that he is going to eat them when really, after several events, the fish find out that he was just admiring their beautiful scales. After we discuss the book we move into talking about making friends and keeping friends. We talk about using kind words with others, which allow us to make and keep friends, while saying mean things may cause us to lose friends. Before the lesson I write each student in the classes name on a strip of construction paper, and then after we read the book I pass out a strip to each student, making sure they do not get their own. The students then return to their seats with the task of writing nice things about the student. I also encourage them to draw pictures if they wish. About 10 minutes before the end of the lesson we gather in a circle and the students tell us who they had and what they wrote. After each student shares, I staple the strips of paper into a chain. In the past I have give the chain to the classroom teacher to display as they wish. This year I decided to link all of the 1st grades strips together and hang them in the hallway for the whole school to see. I also included a poster explaining what the purpose of the lesson was. 

There are many ways to adapt and tweak this lesson. I am still in search of another book that may fit more appropriately with this lesson. Please let me know if you can think of any. Enjoy!

Link to the lesson plan:

 This was taken after two classes--we later added 4 more!
 We displayed this in the hallway, basically explaining the purpose of the lesson, along with the objectives. 
This book works especially well if you have already read "Rainbow Fish" with the students.

"Only One You" 2nd Grade Guidance Lesson

My colleague and partner in crime Janet Pennington recently developed (with the help of ideas she found on the web) a really great lesson that covers diversity and facilitates a discussion on the importance and value of being unique. Too often children feel that they have to look a certain way or dress a certain way to "fit in" or be valued. When I look at the students at my school I love the diversity that I see. Janet purchased a book over the summer entitled, "Only One You" by Linda Kranz. The illustrations in the book are actually pictures that the author and her husband took using painted rocks as the fish. 308 "Rock Fish" were painted for this book, each one as unique and different as the students at our school. After reading the book and facilitating a discussion on what it means to be unique, the students were asked to trace their hand (fingers together) and create their own fish. After the fish were decorated, the students cut them out and turned them back into us. We then created a bulletin board with the hand of every 2nd grader in our school. (In the center of the bulletin we typed up a description of the lesson with our county objectives listed.) Many of the students got creative making patriotic fish, sports fish and even an Abraham Lincoln fish. Other students simply made designs using bright colors. As the students walk down the hallway and see their fish, I hope they are reminded of how unique and special they truly are. Please click the link below to see the lesson plan. Please feel free to use the lesson as you wish. Janet and I know how difficult it can be at times to find fun, engaging guidance lessons. Enjoy!

 Our bulletin board is on a main hallway that students walk down in order to get to lunch, PE and exit the building. We hope a lot of students take a second to look at the beautiful fish!
 The bulletin board was not quite done at this point. I believe this was 3 classes worth--and we have a total of 6 2nd grade classes!

Kindergarten Guidance Lesson: I'm Gonna Like Me

I'm always looking for guidance lessons that will engage students, keeping their interest throughout. I absolutely LOVE incorporating books into my guidance lessons. One of my favorite books to use is "I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem" by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell. This is a book I have used for the past two years to cover my county objective(s) KC.1/KP.1: Identify areas of interest and one's unique abilities. This lesson also meets Virginia Standard EC1 and ASCA Standards C:A1.3, PS:A1.1 and PS:A1.10. You can access my lesson plan via google docs by clicking on the following link:

Lesson Plan for "I'm Gonna Like Me"

In the past I had the students cut out a paper necktie and write things they are good at on the tie. Then I would punch holes at the top and loop and tie yarn so they could wear it. This year I decided to switch things up. The first reason was because it was very time consuming to go around punching holes and tying the yarn. The second reason is because I wanted to do something different from past years. I decided to have the students write down the things they are good at on flowers. I found a template at the following website:

Flower template

When I printed the flower it cut off the side, so I just went over the entire flower with a black marker and then copied enough for each kindergarten student at my school.

After reading the book, I had each student close their eyes and think about one thing they are good at. I then told everyone to open their eyes, but keep the thing they are good at in their head. I told them I was going to call on each one of them to share one thing they are good at. I reminded them that just because someone else says the same thing, doesn't mean they are copying them. (VERY IMPORTANT TO SAY THIS WHEN IN A KINDERGARTEN CLASS :-))

After each student shared I called them up to the front to pick up a paper. Instead of just calling them all up, I made a little game out of it. I called up all student wearing short-sleeves...then I called up any students wearing black, etc. This was good way to keep their attention, while keeping order in the room.

The students were instructed to write one thing on each flower petal that they are good at. I also told them to write their name in the center of the flower. I reminded them to use pencil (and then trace over in crayon if they wished). After writing and coloring their flower they were instructed to cut them out. I then went around and taped a pipe cleaner (they got to choose their own color) to the back of the flower. Luckily I have a TON of pipe cleaners that have been sitting in a drawer for the past 4 years, ordered by the previous school counselor.

At the end I thanked them for sharing with me and suggested that they take their flowers home to share with their family.

NOTE: This is a lesson that is much more effective towards the end of the school year. Many students enter kindergarten unable to write or only able to write their first name. It was wonderful to see how far the students have come throughout the school year as they wrote things they are good at on each petal.

Don't Be An Angry Bird: Bulletin Board

"Don't Be An Angry Bird: Use "I" Statements"
I was on Pinterest ( and started looking for school counseling ideas. I came across a great idea for a bulletin board that incorporates "Angry Birds" and "I Statements." I'm quickly coming to the realization that the way you present ideas/lessons to students will great impact how much they pay attention and how they retain the information. This school year I've been changing out my bulletin board every month or two to display the character trait that we are focusing on as a school. The board is not very flashy and I seriously doubt that anyone notices when it changes. I decided to kick things up a few notches by making a bulletin board that will most certainly capture the attention of the students. I started by downloading pictures of the different angry birds and the pigs and then printed them off in color. Next I laminated them so that they would be more durable as the student brush up against bulletin board. I laminated several sheets of black construction paper for the pigs structure and laminated several sheets of green for the bottom (grass). Next I typed and laminated a title "Don't Be An Angry Bird." I typed up instructions on how to create/use an "I Statement" and then typed up a bunch of examples. I taped them onto construction paper, laminated and stapled them all over the bulletin board. Finally, I made a yellow sun and cut out blue clouds. I wanted to use blue paper for the background, but we didn't have any, so I used white. My challenge for you is to really think about what impact the bulletin boards you make will have on your students. Make sure they are eye-catching. Good luck!!


Hi! My name is Beth and I am an elementary school counselor in Virginia. The school counseling program at my school achieved RAMP (Recognized ASCA Model Program) status in February of 2011. The reason I started this blog is because I am always struggling to find great lessons, small group counseling ideas and other tips and tricks that will help me do my job. I thought this would be a great way to share the things that I have found with other school counselors. I plan to share classroom guidance lessons, small group counseling ideas, bulletin board ideas, organizational tips and so much more. Welcome!