Friday, November 22, 2013

Making Mistakes

The Girl Who NEVER Made Mistakes

Really? Not possible, not even for a minute? Everyone, whether they admit to it or not, makes mistakes. At any age accepting mistakes can be very difficult especially in a society where "perfect" is believed to actually exist. The unsaid social and cultural pressure on children to be "perfect" has increased anxiety among the youngest children. As difficult as it may be, letting kids make mistakes and then being there to help encourage them to try again will help to build confident kids.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein is an awesome book to teach children what a mistake is, mistakes are a necessary part of learning, and mistakes are okay. The character Beatrice Bottomwell helped us to understand there is no such thing as "perfect" and that worrying will not help mistakes.

I have used this lesson with 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. With the 2nd graders, I have them take a pre-survey to assess their prior knowledge and beliefs about mistakes before we read the story and have any discussion. At the end of the lesson, I have them take the post-survey to re-evaluate their beliefs about is amazing to see the impact of one, 25 minute lesson, on students' beliefs about themselves and the world around them.

We learned helpful ways to deal with mistakes; laugh at our mistakes if it doesn't hurt anyone else, find a way to correct or fix it, apologize if our mistake effects others, never give up, and try try again.
The lesson and worksheet was adapted from Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades K-2, by Diane S. Senn and the pre/post survey was taken from Making the Link: Helping Children Link School Habits with the World of Work Grades 2-5 by Lisa King, Ed. S., LPC.
ASCA Standard: A:A1.4: Accept mistakes as essential to the learning process.

Peanut Butter & Homework Sandwiches?!?!?

Peanut Butter & Homework Sandwiches?!?!
Who on EARTH would want to eat those? Martin MacGregor's dog Sadie gives the excuse "My dog ate my homework" meaning again! The story, Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches by Lisa Broadie Cook is an excellent book to teach young students the importance of a positive attitude, no excuses, and taking responsibility to complete our homework.
A new lesson I developed for 2nd Grade this year promotes academic development goals and good homework and study habits.
We began our lesson talking about what our homework expectations were in their classroom, what the work excuse and mistake mean, and why homework is important. As we read the story, we stopped to discuss each mistake Martin made and what a better choice would be if we, ourselves, were in Martin MacGregor's shoes; having a snack before or after doing our homework, using a folder and backpack to carry our homework to and from school, checking and packing our backpacks and folders the night before, working on homework in the same place and about the same time everyday.
After our lesson, we worked as a large group on "Homework Time!" Activity Sheet from Small Group Counseling to circle and find what students were doing "right" and "wrong" in completing homework. We ended discussing homework expectations, what excuse and mistake mean, why homework is important, what each student does to help them be responsible to complete their homework.

The lesson was adapted from Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades 2-5, by Diane S. Senn and the 10 Homework Tips information for the Counselor's Connection Letter was found at

ASCA Standard: A:A1.5; Identify attitudes and behaviors which lead to successful learning.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Who is Your School Counselor?

Kindergarten Lesson
Who is Your School Counselor?

ASCA Standard: PS:C1.6; Identify resource people in the school and community, and know how to seek their help.

A goal for the beginning of this school year was to create lessons to introduce who a school counselor is and for students to gain understanding of what a school counselor does.

The handout I created is based on Coral Canyon Elementary School Counseling: Meet the Counselor. I found the images through a Google Search and used Microsoft Office to add the description. On the back of my handouts, I include a brief "Counselor Connection", a letter home, on the reverse side of every worksheet I give students. Another way to introduce myself to parents and an easy way to give parents ideas to reinforce the skills we learned.

Kindergarten Lesson Meet Your School Counselor!

Using Mrs. Potato Head, I introduce the role of a School Counselor to students. The students were very engaged and liked helping put the Mrs. Potato Head back together. It was a very easy for beginning Kindergarten age to relate with the various pieces and how their school counselor is like Mrs. Potato Head. This was such a successful lesson, I have decided I would use this lesson yearly with Kindergarten age students.

Materials: Mrs. Potato Head (I used a Mr. Potato Head), Meet Your School Counselor Coloring Page, paper book, paper phone, paper "X"

Lesson: Students choose different parts from the bag and place them on Potato Head. We discuss each piece and how it shows what a school counselor does.

Feet: Walks to visit all students in their classrooms

Hands: For helping you or giving "knuckles" to say hello

Ears: For listening to you and your feelings

Mouth: For keeping our talk private and not repeating what you say unless you or someone else are being hurt or are in danger

Eyes: To see all students in our school and look for ways to help them

Book: For reading stories to your class. These stories teach us about being good friends and students.

Phone: To talk to your families or teachers

Bag: To carry many fun things that will help us learn! And of course to bring Marley in.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Where is the School Counselor and How in the World do I Find Her???

Being a School Counselor can be rather busy to say the least. Everyday I travel between two buildings on the same campus and another school 18 miles away every other week (on very rare occasions I have meetings in a third building on our campus). Between three schools, over 400 students, and numerous school staff, and a dedicated office space in one building it can be difficult to find me!

I have found a very helpful tool to let students and school staff know where Mrs. Ziegelmann is. Posted on my door is the Where is Mrs. Ziegelmann sign. I adjust the arrow to accommodate my whereabouts. This communicates to others can see where I am if they need to find me AND the sign is a way to show that school counselors have a variety of places they go!

Making your own is very easy using Microsoft Word, a scissors, and a laminator, however I saw that Vanessa at 's was selling her version on Savvy School Counselor TPT Store and purchased one instead.

Another component to the Where is Mrs. Ziegelmann is the drop box outside my school counseling office in the middle school and outside of the elementary school office. This box serves a variety of purposes; option to report bullying anonymously, self-referrals, leaving messages. Not all students feel comfortable approaching teachers or leaving me a note with the school secretary. I am hopeful this will give students more opportunities to visit with me if they need or like.

Friday, September 20, 2013


September Lessons


Sharing is a very important social skill at the basis for many interactions with others. At the beginning of Kindergarten, some children haven't had the opportunities to learn and practice this skill while others are quite fluent with the concept.

I begin the lesson with a story of Marley eating all of the candy he got while Macy got a sad look on her face and went into the other room. Most of the students understand and infer that Macy was sad because Marley didn't share! We discuss why sharing with friends is important; its nice, makes friends feel happy, makes ourselves feel happy, etch. We also discuss there are many items that are not safe to share with others (I do make exceptions for example sharing an ice cream cone with mom or dad which a few kids said they do).

We read and discuss It's Mine by Leo Lionni. Then I use colored versions of the pictures from the worksheet below for a large group discussions of thing to share or things not safe to share.

The lesson was adapted from Puzzle Pieces; Classroom Guidance Connection by Gwen M. Sitsch & Diane S. Senn and Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades K-2, by Diane S. Senn.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

School Counseling Program Components

My Plush Sidekicks!
The following are some of the ideas I use to stay organized and keep students engaged.

Macy & Marley
These two curious creatures are what brings me FAME among Kindergartners! Marley visits the K-2 Classrooms with me and sometimes brings his cousin Macy with. The puppets are wonderful tools for students to become familiar with who I am at the school. Mrs. Ziegelmann is a tough name for Kindergarteners at the beginning of the year, for some reason Marley is very easy for 5 and 6 years olds to remember!

These two of them have a variety of friendship and school-related problems the students help to solve. It never fails, at the beginning of the school year, Marley has forgotten almost everything the students helped teach him the previous year! Thankfully the 1st & 2nd graders are very willing to help reteach Marley.

These monkeys are also very useful for classroom management strategies. Marley is very shy and when a class gets too noisy Marley will hide in the bag I brought him to the class in. All it takes is for one student to point out (and they notice very quickly what these monkeys do) "Hey! Marley is gone!" and the students will redirect themselves and others to quiet down.