The Water Lily Way

A school counselor's story of how to live, work and play…the water lily way


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Tuesday Thoughts: The Power of Playdoh!

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Happy rainy Tuesday! The perfect day for playdoh! ūüôā

Who doesn’t LOVE playdoh?? Kid’s ESPECIALLY love squeezing and smashing this miracle¬†substance in their hands! Playdoh can be used in so many different ways when working with kids. Playdoh¬†encourages children to tap into their unconscious mind as it is used as an art¬†expression.¬†Just as well, when engaging in more of a nondirective style of play with children,¬†play-doh allows children to be in control (something they often don’t experience in their world!). Playdoh can support children in building self-esteem, express their emotions and help them¬† sharing happenings in their lives. Here are some different activities that¬†incorporate using¬†playdoh when working with your kiddos:

  • ¬†Expressing Emotions: Have children create a person out of playdoh. Talk about different emotions such as anger, fear, frustration, anxiousness, sadness, etc.¬† Ask children to think of a time when you felt a certain feeling. For each feeling, have the student place a different color of playdoh on the place in their body where they felt that emotion (ex. placing blue playdoh on the figure’s stomach if the child’s stomach hurts when they were anxious). Once done discussing different emotions, reflect on importance of expressing these emotions and not letting them bottle up inside to a point of where our bodies ache. Talk about healthy ways to express these emotions while at school, home, out with friends, etc.
  • Playdoh Personalities: Have children create an animal that they believe has the same “personality” as their own. After child has created the animal, discuss why they think the animal’s personality is like their personality.
  • Relaxation: Giving kiddo’s playdoh to fidget with can help them relax! Playdoh can also help kids to “open up” and feel more comfortable to talk! Playdoh is something that most kids are familiar with, and can help them feel safe and in control.
  • Anger release: Anger can help children release built up anger. Like the “importance of expressing emotions” activity, you can talk with a child about the significance in expressing emotions in healthy ways. You can encourage the child to say something he/she is angry about and then allow them to “smash” the playdoh as a way to release their anger. It may be beneficial to talk about the difference in “hitting” playdoh versus hitting others so that the child understands appropriate and inappropriate behaviors when expressing emotions. Another activity I found¬†on “Creativity in Therapy”¬†involves taping a target on a wall. The child can then throw the playdog at the target as another way to express and release anger in a healthy manner.
  • Control: Here is a cute activity to teach kids about things we can and can not control using playdoh and a rock. Yes, a rock! Find it on¬†Callie’s School Counseling¬†Website¬†by simply scrolling down to the activity that says Playdoh.
  • Positive Self Talk: Your mind is playdoh! Check it out on Kids Relaxation.
  • Clay sculpture and poem
  • Playdoh stress balls
  • Playdoh printable mats
  • Creativity with Playdoh: This is a fun website that talks about the benefits of using playdoh w/kids & also different materials you can combine with playdoh to get creative with playdoh play. Check it out at Imagination Tree.com

 

 

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Be your own cheerleader & cheer on those around you…

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What IF the only resolution you made was to love YOURSELF more? It seems like such a simple question, with what “should” be such a simple answer. But for many females in our society, young girls, teenage girls, young adult women, and adult women, loving ourselves is not always something that comes easy. I am 25 years old, and can say that in the past two or three years I have¬†finally began coming¬†to a place where I am feeling more comfortable, proud¬†and confident in my own skin. Have I always felt this way about myself, my potential, my knowledge, skills and body? No. Was it easy to get to where I am now? Absolutely not. Did my negative self-talk hold me back in my roles as a student, friend, sister, daughter and partner? Uh huh. Did I compare myself to others throughout my teenage¬† years and into college? You bet. Does this still happen for me at times now if I am not mindful of my thoughts? Of course.

What scares me is not that I am alone in any of these experiences or thoughts that I just shared with you. What worries me is that there are WAY too many other women and young girls who are experiencing what I just spoke about (and more) daily. Our society has a way of telling females how we “should” be. What we “should” look like. What jobs we “should” have. All the tasks and responsibilities we “should” be able to manage. Our culture has created an environment of competition among women. Instead of empowering each other and¬†advocating for one another, we compare, we contrast, we judge. We not only make assumptions and¬†evaluate others, but we do this to ourselves. It seems like a never ending circle. It seems like a cultural epidemic that has no answer. And yet, if we try and understand this on a smaller scale, the solution does seem to be a bit more “manageable” (not sure I like that word, but you know what I am trying to get at ūüėČ ). If we stop and reflect on this vicious issue, we may find that it might not be as difficult as we think to create the change we’d all like to see in order to live in a world that encourages more self confidence and self expression and less judgment and competition.

With that said, as I am female who has struggled with self-talk, self-esteem,  and body image, I am not saying my journey or your journey in becoming more self confident will be simple. I definitely am not implying that. But what I am suggesting, is that the changes we make in our everyday lives can be simple. We can begin strengthening our self confidence and respecting our own self-worth. We can empower those around us, our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, neighbors, collegues, classmates, the list goes on and on.

I wish more than anything I could¬†give you, or my friends, or my little elementary girls who have very low self-esteem, something that would just take these struggles away. I wish I knew exactly what to tell you and how to tell you to love yourself, your body, and your special and unique qualities. But, I can’t. No one can. My own journey, and every woman’s journey, in learning to appreciate herself (myself) looks different. There’s no magic wand to make it happen. There’s no trick that allows you to wake up one day and poof, all of a sudden you’re confident and proud of the woman you are. Yet, there ARE a lot of us on this planet.¬† A lot of us that are in conflict with ourselves daily.¬† A lot of us being our own worst enemies.¬†We can come together, we can struggle together, and we can find ways to¬†support each other while we help ourselves learn to love who we are, all that we are, and all that we do.

Learning to love ourselves comes with time. It takes effort. It takes stepping in your own “stuff” and working through it. It takes strength, and an¬†openness and willingness to grow and learn. While every experience will be different, and the process may take longer for some than others, we can still support one another. As I said¬†before, I don’t know the “secret” but I would like to share some different ideas with you in this post and in posts in the future. Some of these are things that have helped me in my own journey in becoming a more confident individual. Others that I have listed are¬†thoughts, websites, activities, etc., that stand out to me and I feel as though could be helpful to you or for others around you. As always, please feel free to share and exchange any thoughts of your own as well.

  • Be mindful of your thoughts, your self-talk and the way you present yourself to others. Is what you say something you would say to your best friend? To a co-worker? A sibling? Reflect on treatingt yourself the way you do to those you love.
  • Forgive yourself! Everyone makes mistakes, no one is “perfect”…
  • Avoid “shoulding” on yourself. If you find yourself saying, I “should have” or I “must” you might be placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.
  • Encourage yourself!!!! Be your¬†own cheerleader.
  • Create a word for yourself, such as strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, respectful, driven,¬†etc. When you notice those negative thoughts, recognize that they are, but use your “word” to help you focus back on the positive and present.
  • Appreciate your body. Recognize ALL that it does for you each and every day.
  • Take notice of when you pass judgment and compare. What does this do for you? Instead of looking at how you’d like to be like someone else, VALUE all that you are.
  • Exercise!¬†Exercise increases the release of¬†endorphins (chemicals in your brain that fight stress). Exercise boosts self-esteem and helps decrease stress, tension and anxiety.
  • Listen to your body. Everyone’s needs for exercise, nutrition, sleep, socializing, etc. is DIFFERENT. Know what feels “right” for you. It’s amazing how wonderful we can feel by simply listening to our body and honoring what it asks of us.
  • An oldie, but a goodie! Dove Real Beauty Sketches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57SUnwrY59o
  • Embrace and Empower (“Like” it on Facebook) – A page that encourages self-love and self-acceptance through inspirational quotes, resources, etc.
  • The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz (Just check it out… ūüėČ )
  • Yoga: This has been a big one for me. Yoga encourages mindfulness, awareness, and it connects you with your thoughts and body. Yoga has challenged me mentally, physically and has been an amazing part of my process. It’s help me learn to¬†acknowledge my self-talk, but then has also supported me in not allowing negative thoughts to interfere with my practice.¬†Basically,¬† the greatness I’ve found with yoga is that I’ve been able to integrate my awarenesses and greater self-appreciation that I continue to learn on my yoga¬†mat into “real” life situations.
  • Gratitude journal. Treat yourself to a fun, little notebook and begin journaling about all that you are thankful for, and all the strengths and special qualities you have as an individual.
  • No more “fat” talk. “Fat talk” does not refer to just weight, it includes all that we say as women that brings us¬†and others down. It’s more “negative” talk, in my perspective.¬† The following website is dedicated towards helping to eliminate negative talk. http://www.operationbeautiful.com/release-form/how-to-become-fat-talk-free/

 

In Schools:

  • Have a student sit on a chair in front of a whiteboard while other students write positive phrases on the board.
  • Tape a blank piece of paper on student’s backs. Students walk around and write positive comments on other student’s sheets.
  • “Friendship bracelets”¬†—See “Noticing our Kindness” post¬† (individual/group activities)
  • Bucket Filling—See “Bucket Filling” post (under curriculum)

More to come here….

 

 

I hope you have a wonderful end to your week. And I hope you are able to begin embracing yourself, all that you are, and that you are also able to empower those around you to do the same. ūüôā

Jessica


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Bucket Filling!

I’m LOVING this book: How Full is Your Bucket? Kids REALLY seem to connect with the content and the¬†meaning behind the story. The real test, as we know, will be to see if they can apply it when they’re interacting with their peers, teachers, and families… TBD! ūüėČ

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I have been using this book when working individually with¬†kiddo’s, although you could totally use this for a small groups or for an entire¬†class when teaching a lesson. We’ve had requests from teachers to work with numerous girls on friendship skills. How Full is Your Bucket has been a great way to connect with these girls and cover friendship skills such as¬†facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, expression of feelings,¬†inclusion, etc. It typically has been taking me one session just to read the book and talk about it briefly with the student. I usually take turns reading the book with the student (dependent upon age), and conversation evolves as we make our way through. Some of the topics/questions we talk about throughout the story include:

-Who was a bucket dipper? Why?

-How do the character’s feel when their bucket is dipped into? When their bucket is empty?

-Has your bucket ever been dipped into? Emptied? When? How did you feel?

-Who was a bucket filler? Why?

-How can we fill others buckets? How can we fill our own buckets?

-How do we feel when our buckets are full? How did the character’s in the story feel what their buckets were full?

-What can we do at school to be bucker fillers? In the classroom? At recess? At home?

 

When we meet again for¬†a second time, we review what we learned about being bucket dippers and bucket fillers by writing different examples out on a¬†dry erase board or sheet of paper. After, we each create some piece of small artwork, letter, etc. for another person in hopes to fill their bucket! When I meet with the student for the third time, we once again review bucket dipping and filling, and talk about how it felt to fill someone else’s bucket. Here are some other GREAT options of ways to incorporate “bucket filling” when working individually with kiddos, in small groups or in a classroom!

 

Bucket Filling Poem: http://www.pinterest.com/jendemfit/school-bucket-filler-activities/

Bucket Filler Worksheet http://www.hopkinshoppinhappenings.com/2012/10/bucket-filling-freebie.html

Lessons/Ideas from Scholastic http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2010/04/are-your-students-bucket-fillers

Bucket Filling Journal (From http://www.bucketfillers101.com)

Bucket Filling Paper Bucket

Bucket Filling Coloring Sheet

Bucket Filling Form (From http://www.bainbridgeclass.com/files.htm)

Bucket Filling Sign

How Full is Your Bucket? On You-Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=A5R6-2m_qHk

There are tons of other activities and lessons out there -pinterest has lots of great ideas from other educators and parents.

 

Have fun spreading the bucket filling cheer! ūüôā

-Jessica

 

 


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Monday Mindfulness: Mindfulness as told in “Thrive”

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend filled with fun, family, friends, and of course, candy! I was in the mood for¬† a new read this weekend, so I took a little trip to Barnes and Noble. Luckily, one of my professor’s mentioned the book “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington (cofounder of the Huffington Post) in class this past week, otherwise B & N trips can consume an entire afternoon… If there is one store where I can spend hours and hours, sometimes walking around in the same circle, it’s Barnes and Noble.

I spent almost my entire Saturday night (thrilling Saturday night for a 25 year old ūüėČ ) digging into Thrive, needless to say I HIGHLY recommend this read. Huffington’s novel discusses the definition of success in our¬†world today (money and power) and how it is literally driving individuals into the ground. She stresses the importance, for us as a society, to begin redefining success. “To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” These four pillars are what make up the four sections of the book.

The first section “well-being” talks about just that, our health and well-being. Huffington advocates that if we don’t begin to redefine success in our country, our physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health will continue to decline. She offers countless stories of CEO’s and well known leaders who have stepped away from careers that they put everything into and sacrificed a ton for, including their health,¬†to¬†regain a life of meaning, balance, and¬†wellness instead of stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

Together with the stories from influential American’s and personal experiences from Huffington’s own life, she provides readers with tools and tactics to begin living a life where our health and well-being becomes just as important as our work meetings, e-mail’s and deadlines. In her “well-being” section, I especially appreciated Huffington’s sharing of her meaning of mindfulness. She brought in this component to offer readers a simple¬†approach¬†to give more attention and care towards our mental health. This is what I would like to leave you with this Monday.

Mindfulness as Told in Thrive: Habit Breaking or Habit Unmaking

“Each day for a week you choose a habit such as brushing your teeth, drinking your morning coffee, or taking a shower, and simply pay attention to what’s happening while you do¬† it. It’s really not so much habit breaking as habit unmaking -it’s taking something we’ve placed on autopilot and putting it back on the list of things we pay attention to. The idea is not to make you feel different, but simply to allow a few more moments in the day when you are ‘awake’…If you notice your mind wandering while you do this, simply notice where it went, then gently escort it back to the present moment.”

Mindfulness exercises can be done in a variety of ways and in all sorts of settings, but the point I think Huffington tries to make is that it can be incorporated into our lives in the simplest parts of our day (such as brushing our teeth ūüôā ). After reading this, I started thinking about my own day. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower, without running through a list of things in my head that I needed to do that day. As far as drinking coffee goes, I’m usually trying to inhale a cup as quick as possible as I fly through my morning to get ready and get out the door by 7:30 am. I don’t know that I usually even taste my morning coffee? Someone could put lemonade in my favorite snoopy mug, and I don’t know that I’d even notice a difference? It’s become more of a “get the caffeine in asap” and let’s get the day going! It makes me disappointed to look at the parts of my day when I should be more¬†present, when¬†I am¬†actually physically away from school/work/etc. and yet, I am not being mindful. I’m not being connected, I’m not living as well as I could be. I’m rushing. I’m stressing. I’m thinking about the next thing. Trying to get ahead, not realizing that it’s probably actually setting me back.

I think we all have areas in our day where we can try to be a little more present.¬†More mindful. More connected. By finding parts in our day to focus on our well-being is just¬†how we can begin to, as Huffington says in her novel, redefine success and most importantly, begin to Thrive. Likewise, we can think of it as just another way to begin¬†living our¬†life “the water lily way.”

 

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Online, FREE Resources to use with Students: Books, Songs, Movement Activities and More

Hi Friends!

As an aspiring counselor, I am beginning to gather different resources such as books, games, toys, etc. However, as we all know there’s a ton of resources, activities and books online that are FREE to use. What a great way to balance and mix up resources as an educator. Like many of the other collections I’ve shared on the blog, this is a very¬† basic list! I will continue to add to this list as I slowly uncover more of the wonderful and inexpensive resources that exist for educators! Enjoy and feel free to share others that you’ve found to be fun and effective to use throughout the school day!

Books

Energizers & Movement for Students with the Wiggles

Relaxation, Deep Breathing, Mindfulness

Music Videos

Clips with Powerful Messages

 Brain Breaks

  • Gonoodle.com –This site is AWESOME! If you’ve never heard of it, check it out asap! Zumba for kids, calming exercises, energizing exercises…So great for the classroom! You have to create an account (you earn points as you do different exercises), but it’s FREE! ūüôā


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Monday Mindfulness: Bye, bye Little Monster. Hello, Positive Self-Talk!

Hello all! I hope you had an enjoyable weekend, and are ready to tackle another Monday. ūüôā I am at my practicum site on Monday, and decided to share a little card I began making for some of the students I see individually. One thing I have noticed since being at my elementary school since February is that we have a lot of students with low levels of confidence and self-esteem. While this may not come surprising to some, it still shocks me every Monday when I am at my site and talking with my kids. I suppose I assumed I¬†would encounter more self-esteem related struggles when¬†I eventually entered into a middle and high school during¬†my internship next year. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

A lot of the kiddo’s I have been¬†talking with individually, originally were connected with me because of either behavioral or academic related issues (or so I was told). After spending time with a few of these students, I’ve come to see that their self-talk is very negative and their self confidence is extremely low. How are children suppose to succeed in school when their brains are telling them one thing, and yet they are¬†being challenged beyond belief to perform academically? How is that happening to our little ones at such a young age? What can we do as school counselors, teachers, parents and friends to promote positive self-talk, and increase self-esteem in our youth? Self-talk effects SO many aspects of our daily life: our mental wellness, our ability to cope and handle stress, our immune systems and physical health, our confidence, self-esteem, work habits and relationships. Self-talk. Is. Powerful.

There are millions of resources for school counselors, teachers and parents to use to help increase positive self-talk in our youth. As I continue to explore different activities, I will, of course,¬†share them with you on the blog (this is¬†an area of passion for me!). For now, here is a little card I have been giving¬†to some of my students. While they decorate around the card (we paste them on construction paper -I believe decorating helps make it “their own”) we discuss the “little monster” that feeds them negative thoughts. By externalizing the self-talk, it takes the blame off the child and any extra frustration that may have been connected with the self-talk being “their fault.” Talking points can include things such as:

-What does the monster say?

-How does the monster impact you at school? Home? With friends?

-How can we stop the monster?

-What are some of your strengths? What do you enjoy? What makes you feel good about yourself?

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Feel free to let me know what you think, as always. ūüôā

One final thought for your “Mindfulness Monday”…

Remember: “Your thoughts only have as much power as you give them.”

Be well,

Jessica ūüôā

 

 


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Lesson Plans for School Counseling Core Curriculum

An important aspect to delivering a comprehensive school counseling program¬†entails¬†providing students with lessons or activities that are preventative and developmental in design. School Counseling Core Curriculum is often thought of as “guidance,” however curriculum can actually be delivered to students in a school through several strategies such as:

Direct Instruction:

School Counselor’s teach¬†school counseling core curriculum in a variety of subject areas to all students in classrooms, school counselor offices, computer labs and other school facilities. School¬†Counseling Core Curriculum is focused around the three domains: academic development, career development and personal/social development.¬†¬†The ASCA model encourages school counselors to allocate 35%-45% of their total time spent at school providing students with school counseling curriculum. Not only does direct instruction provide students with knowledge, skills and new awareness’s, but it also assists the school counselor in identifying students who may need further support in either¬†a small group setting¬†or¬†through¬†individual student counseling.

Groups Activities:

The school counselor facilitates groups outside of the classroom to meet individual student needs or interests. The groups promote academic, career or personal/social development to enhance student skills and knowledge within these areas.

 

Examples of possible content topics for direct instruction or group activities:

Academic support

Career awareness

Career exploration

Character education

Conflict resolution

Cultural competence

Goal setting

Mindfulness

Protective behaviors

Relational skills

School safety

Self-management

Social skills

Stress management and healthy coping

Transitions

Wellness

 

The following are lesson plans that could be used to deliver school counseling curriculum to students. The lesson plans have been created using the current templates provided by ASCA for school counselors.

Personal/Social Lesson #1

Career Lesson Plan #1

Academic Lesson Plan #1