Art & Grief – The Broken Bowl Project

In searching for an art-based grief activity for one of my students who recently lost a parent, I stumbled across The Broken Bowl Project. This activity is extremely powerful, especially for a child who is passionate about art.

The session prior to when we started the activity, I explained the idea to my student — that we would be breaking a bowl, painting it, and putting it back together. I asked her how she thought this might relate to her life, and she was able to recognize that the bowl will represent how her life has been shattered and that she has to put it back together.

This student wanted me to help her paint the bowl, so I related that back to the meaning of the project by saying she doesn’t have to put herself back together all by herself, and we talked about her support systems.

She wanted to paint the inside with bright colors so that she can feel bright and vibrant on the inside again, and she decided to paint the outside silver and gold because she thought she had to be bright and shiny on the outside for everyone to see {even though she didn’t always feel bright and shiny}. All of these artistic decisions led to great conversations while we painted.

We took 2 sessions to paint the bowl, and during the third session, we put it back together. The student figured out how the pieces fit together, and I hot glued them. There were moments of frustration when a piece didn’t seem to fit or it didn’t fit quite the way it was supposed to, which of course is symbolic that her life will never fully be the same again, even if it is bright and wonderful. We processed the meaning behind the bowl each step of the way, and the student took the bowl home with her as a reminder of her journey.

I really liked this activity because it provided an interesting symbol for the student to relate to and it naturally brought up a lot of grief related topics while giving the student an external activity to focus on during talk therapy.


Lesson on Positivity Using the Energy Bus for Kids

Today I will be introducing a lesson I used with my 3rd graders on the impact of positive energy. The kiddos responded SO well to this lesson, and I’m excited to share it with you all!

The lesson is based on the book, The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon {such an amazing read if you’re looking for a new book!}, which has a version for children too. I begin by reading The Energy Bus for Kids to the class. This book follows the character George as he navigates school using the 5 rules of the energy bus, given to him by his bus driver, Joy.

5 Rules of the Energy Bus:

  1. Create a positive vision
  2. Fuel your ride with positive energy
  3. No bullies allowed
  4. Love your passengers
  5. Enjoy the ride

Even though this book is on the longer side {I probably wouldn’t use it with students below 3rd grade}, the kids were engaged the entire time and were able to tell me all 5 energy bus rules at the end. I also used this time to discuss the differences between bullying an meanness, as it connected to the ‘no bullies allowed’ rule.

I found a lot of wonderful supplementary activities and resources on, including a blank energy bus license plate the students could fill with positive energy. My students completed this activity, and they were so excited to share their positive license plates with the class.

I think that the idea of positive energy and the way it’s presented in this book ties in nicely to CBT concepts, in that changing your mindset can change your mood, so I explained that to my class on a 3rd grade level. Most of them seemed to get it, and one student even said, “So, it’s like we have superpowers to change our feelings by changing our thoughts?? Cool!” <- why I have serious job love 

I hope you enjoyed this lesson! Comment below with any lesson topics you’d like to see on The School Counselor Life Blog!

Weekly Data Report Log

I received so many requests for my monthly data spreadsheet that I decided to share my weekly data collection with you as well! I found that collecting data on a weekly basis makes it much easier to manage, and the system I use ensures I maintain my case notes in a timely manner.

{School Counselor Monthly Data Reports}

As described in my post on scheduling sessions with individual students, I log every session, parent communication, and meeting in my planner. When I write my case notes {which I typically do first thing on Monday morning for the previous week}, I go back to my planner, and write my notes for sessions, phone calls, and meetings. Once I’ve written all of my case notes, I use that information to add to my weekly data spreadsheet.

As you can see in the pictures above, I track the following information each week:

  • Classroom lessons
  • Individual sessions, along with the breakdown of topics
  • Small group sessions
  • Speech/accommodations meetings
  • Parent meetings
  • Parent e-mails
  • Parent phone calls

This year, I’ve created a section to track my intern’s individual sessions as well.

I’m able to utilize this spreadsheet when I create my monthly report, but it is exceptionally helpful when I pull together my annual data report for each school year. If you’d like a blank version of my weekly data spreadsheet, ‘like’ The School Counselor Life on Facebook, and e-mail !

My Favorite FREE Printable Rapport-Building Board Games

I like to have simple board games on hand for individual sessions, especially when I am pulling students who didn’t ask to see me themselves {but rather were referred by their parents or teachers}. The games I’ll share with you today are great ways to build rapport with students while gathering more information.

  1. Tell Me About… Board Game by Games for Learning

This is one of my favorite games to get to know students better and help them feel comfortable in my office. Each space includes a favorite thing that the player who lands on it shares with the other players. To make the game last longer, I play by flipping a coin instead of using a die. If the coin lands on heads, the player moves one space forward, and if it lands on tails, the player moves two spaces. You can download the game here.

2. Emotions Board Game by Life Over C’s

This game not only helps build rapport but also teaches students to identify and express their emotions. Students get to match facial expressions with different feelings, and they have the opportunity to share times they have felt angry, sad, happy, and scared. To read more about this game and download it for free, click here.

3. School Days Ups & Downs by Play Therapy Works

This game is a CBT take on Chutes and Ladders, and it gives students an opportunity to talk about struggles they face at school and to think through hypothetical situations others may experience. Students are asked to identify feelings and reframe thoughts throughout the game. You can download the game for free here!

These are the top 3 games I use to build rapport with my students that help me gather information without the child feeling intimidated by traditional talk therapy. Enjoy!

Halloween Themed Lesson on Feelings

Happy almost Halloween! Today I will be sharing with you one of my favorite lessons that I use with my 2nd graders to teach them about feelings.

I begin the lesson by asking the students to name as many feeling words as possible, and I write all of their responses on the board. We talk about what the words mean as they are written down, and I usually add a few of my own in the mix to teach them about some feelings they may not already know how to identify.


We then talk about 3 main ways we can recognize how others might be feeling: words, facial expressions, and body language.

To make a point that sometimes our words are not congruent with our facial expressions or body language, I usually will give a few examples such as jumping around the room with a happy face saying “I’m SO sad!!!” or walk around with my arms crossed and a sullen expression telling them how excited I am to be in their class {this tends to be a big hit with the kiddos}. Usually a child brings up the fact that at times someone will say they are fine when they aren’t, and we can tell by what that person’s face and body are also doing.

Once we’ve identified feelings and talked about how people express them, I pass out a Halloween creatures feelings worksheet {you can download this worksheet from Lita Lita here}. Student draw facial expressions on the creatures based on the corresponding feelings words.

To finish the class, I read the book Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.

Before starting the book, I ask the class to notice how the characters may be feeling. After I’m finished reading, the kids tell me the pages they remember and how the character was probably feeling. We go back to those pages and look at the reasons we think the characters may have those feelings by focusing on the words, facial expressions, and body language.

How do you teach your students about feelings? Comment below with your favorite ideas!

Moving Offices and Being Flexible

School counseling requires a lot of flexibility, and this year, I had to use those skills when I was told my office would be moving to a different building in a smaller space. I’m excited to share my experience moving offices and show you what changes I’ve made to my office layout and decor!

Even though the idea of packing up my office at the end of last year was overwhelming, my move was a positive experience overall. The best part is that I was able to purge everything I didn’t need, which helped me when I was organizing my new space. There was a lot of stuff left over from the previous counselor, and when I took over the office, I didn’t know what I could get rid of, so I just kept everything {even some files and workbooks from the 90s!}. The move was a perfect excuse to sift through those items and, with the help of my principal, figure out what to toss.


I labeled and numbered all of my boxes and created a reference page with all of that information because (1) I am an extremely type A person and (2) I was paranoid something would go missing in the move.


I started getting a little nervous when my furniture wasn’t in my office the week before school started, but it all worked out, and I am so happy with the way it turned out! Here is what my office looks like now:

{^ My intern’s desk}


3 Apps for Organization & Productivity

Once the school year starts, it can be particularly difficult to organize your professional and personal life, so today I will be sharing my favorite 3 apps that I use to stay organized and to increase productivity!


1. Done



My favorite app of all time is called Done. As a goal-oriented person, I love having a place to track my daily, weekly, and monthly goals on my phone. This app is designed to build positive habits or decrease negative ones, and you can customize how often you work toward meeting those goals.


2. One List

If you love to have a to-do list with you at all times, this is one of the better electronic ones I have found. You can give each item on your list a level of priority {low, medium, high, or urgent}, and you can set due dates that automatically switch priority level as the date approaches.


3. Headspace


For me, an important part of staying productive is managing my stress levels. Once I reach a certain level of anxiety or stress, I am no longer as effective in getting things done, so that is usually when I use the Headspace app. Headspace offers short, no-fuss guided meditations. The first 10 are free, and there are more you can buy {although I just use the same 10 because they work well for me}.

Comment below with your favorite apps for organization!

Appointment to See the Counselor Handout

One of my goals for last school year was to have 100% of middle school students report that they know how to set up an appointment with the school counselor on their end-of-year evaluation surveys {read my data collection post for more on that}. I am happy to say that I met that goal, and I think I owe most of that success to the handout I will share with you today.

At the beginning of last year, I went into all middle school classes to introduce myself to new students, remind everybody where my office is located, and give them a handout explaining how to see me. We talked through the handout as a group, and I answered any questions they had {see handout below}.

This is also when I had them complete my Beginning of the Year Middle School Check-In Google Survey.


The second purpose of this handout was to differentiate between an emergency situation and a problem that can wait {since I am the only counselor at my school, it is important they know the difference!} I explained that non-emergencies are still important, but they are problems that can wait until I finish meeting with a student or finish a lesson in the classroom. Emergencies are problems that I should drop everything for, including a session with another student or a meeting with the principal. Of course if I am free, I see a student when he or she comes to see me, but as you all know, that is unfortunately not always the case 🙂

I hope you all find this form to be helpful! I am currently working on a version for my lower school students, so I will share that when it’s complete!

2017/2018 School Counseling Intern Binder

First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been supporting my 2017-2018 Complete School Counselor Planner! I am thrilled to see so many of you purchasing the planner, and I can’t wait to hear how it works for you during the school year! {If you missed my post about the planner, you can read all about it here.}

The wonderful feedback I’ve gotten so far has inspired me to make an intern binder/planner as well. I plan on giving this to my intern this year, and hopefully it helps both of us as the school year progresses!


School Counseling Intern Binder

Here is a run down of all of the pages included in the intern binder document:










For this project, I used a plain white binder as well as dividers with clear page inserts. In the divider inserts, I placed the header pages for easy access, and I 3 hole-punched the remaining pages of each section to place behind the appropriate dividers. I also included a divider that is labeled “important information,” and I plan on using this section for our daily school schedule, teacher’s e-mail addresses, copy machine directions, etc.

I think that this will not only help my intern stay organized, but it will make gathering data for the school year even easier because everything she does during the year will be in one place.

If you’d like to purchase the intern binder {either for yourself or for your intern!}, you can find it here in my TpT store.

Guest Blog Post: What School Counselors Can Do About Cyberbullying

Hi everybody! Today is very exciting because guest blogger Amanda Ronan from will be sharing her ideas for school counselors to prevent and handle cyberbullying in schools. You can read her contribution below 🙂


What School Counselors Can Do About Cyberbullying

Bullying has always been a topic of concern among educatiors and is especially troubling for school counselors who are often charged with dealing with the after-effects of the teasing and taunting. Traditional bullying includes things like physical assault, threatening, exclusion, and rumor-spreading. With the modern prevalence of technology, many of those same bullying events have found their way online as cyberbullying.

Cyberbullies torment and threaten their victims via social media, text messages, email, and other online forms of communication. They post fake images and spread rumors about their victims, who are usually excluded from group communications. Cyberbullies often create fake accounts and impersonate their victim. With this account, the bully posts mean things about other people or shares information meant to shame or embarrass the victim. Sometimes these aggressions are done anonymously. Other times, the person doing the cyberbullying is well-known by the victim and peers alike.

Dealing with cyberbullying is a challenge for schools. The bullying events often take place outside of school hours using computer and devices that are not school property. But the effects of cyberbullying most definitely impact students’ school experiences. So, while you may not personally witness the bullying, as a school counselor or educator, you are very likely to see the emotional and mental aftermath of cyberbullying.

Teachers need help supporting their students who are victims, as well as perpetrators of bullying. Administrators need advice about what sorts of school rules need to be in place around the issue of cyberbullying. The school counselor is a great person to provide support and information about how schools should react to cyberbullying and proactively try to stop it. Here are a few ways counselors can help combat cyberbullying.


Teach digital citizenship.

Teaching digital citizenship will help students better navigate in the world online. A strong digital citizenship curriculum includes information about being safe on the Internet. It teaches students about maintaining privacy and understanding scams and phishing. The curriculum should explain to students how to communicate with others in respectful ways, noting that sometimes it’s best to say nothing or not leave a comment. Students should also consider what they leave behind as a digital footprint. One important part of teaching digital citizenship is to emphasize the fact that once something is published online, it is nearly impossible to make it disappear completely. Warn your students againt sending sensitive information or images electronically. These things can come back to haunt them years in the future.


Help and be an advocate.

When you are aware of a cyberbullying situation, the best reaction you can have is to listen carefully. If students think they will be punished for what they share, you will lose their trust. Students who are victims of cyberbullying need support and understanding. You should take the time to counsel them and find ways to help them additional support if needed. You might team up with another trusted adult, such as the student’s advisor. In addition, the person who is doing the bullying needs to be educated about what they’re doing and why it’s wrong. An immediate punishment without help them to understand why they’re engaged in these relational aggressions will not help change the situation.


Update the code of conduct.

If your school’s code of conduct does not already include points about cyberbullying, you should work with the administration get the document updated. As a school counselor, you are the resident expert in students’ social and emotional growth. The code of conduct is the definition of expected behaviors for every stakeholder at the school. While cyberbullying may not take place on campus, it affects student behavior and student achievement at school, so it needs to be addressed in formal ways.


Keep an eye on emotions and relationships.

You may not work with every student every day, so you need to help teachers become more aware of the emotions and relationships happening in their classes. Often there are subtle changes in the way students relate to each other when cyber bullying is going on. For example, a normally popular student might be sitting away from the group, or a quieter student might seem even more timid. If teachers just listen to the conversations their students are having coming into or leaving class, they may hear about what’s going on online.

Encourage students to report cyberbullying.

No matter the cyberbullying or digital literacy curriculum your school uses, the number one emphasis for students needs to be to not let things go unreported. This can be difficult for students who don’t want to be seen as “snitches,” but bystanders stepping in is often the only way bullying will cease. Teach students how to find the inner strength to stick up for others and to call out bullies. In addition, you can implement an anonymous reporting program so that students can let you know what they’ve seen or heard in a way they feel comfortable.


Help parents set limits on tech.

Parents need help and guidance understanding the online environment in terms of cyberbullying. Most of the parents that you’re working with today did not grow up in an online environment and so don’t know how to translate the school yard bullying to what’s happening on the Internet. Hold a parent information night, and emphasize the need for parents to set limits on tech usage at home, especially if that time is generally unsupervised.

Build a cohesive, supportive community.

A strong school community with a supportive culture is a great way to keep cyberbullying at bay. When students at school are required to work together in meaningful ways, they get to know each other as people. Collaborative and supportive work helps students develop empathy for others that they might not normally spend time with. Train teachers in social and emotional relationship building programs and activities that they can do in their classrooms on regular basis. As a school counselor, you may need to constantly remind teachers to include this time and remind them why it’s so valuable. They feel the burden of the lack of time teaching content as it is, so give as much support in the classroom as possible.


Know your obligations under state’s anti-bullying laws.

Many states have begun to draft anti-bullying laws. These laws outline the definition of bullying and the expected response by schools and administrators. Counselors and teachers are also held accountable for reporting issues that they observe or that are reported to them. Be sure that your staff development includes training teachers in understanding what their responsibilities are. It’s also important to understand, as a counselor, what your responsibilities are and if they’re any different than the classroom teacher.


School counselors have the training and understanding to help make schools feel safe and supportive. You can create anti-bullying programs that address online incidents, help students feel comfortable discussing what’s happening online, and make sure your school has a clear plan in place to deal with cyberbullying.


Amanda Ronan is an Austin-based writer. After many years as a teacher, Amanda transitioned out of the classroom and into educational publishing. She wrote and edited English, language arts, reading, and social studies content for grades K-12. Since becoming a full-time writer, Amanda has worked with a diverse set of clients, ranging from functional medicine doctors to design schools to moving companies. She blogs occasionally for, writes long-form articles, and pens YA and children’s fiction. Her first YA series, My Brother is a Robot, is slated for release by Scobre Educational Press in September 2015.