I’ve worked in schools for my entire career and I’ve known a lot of amazing teachers. I’ve been finding great resources to share with families, but I’ve also thought that the educators and counselors I’ve known would find some of these resources super helpful. I’ve decided to create a page on my website dedicated to educators. I’ve also added some new Pinterest boards dedicated to counseling topics, like feelings and emotions activities and managing anxiety. Please take a look and tell your friends and colleagues!!
Did you know that Massachusetts has passed standards for Social and Emotional Development for Preschool and Elementary Students? This is a great start, and I can't wait to see these standards expanded into Elementary, Middle School and High Schools!
Resources for School
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HELPFUL BOOKS FOR SchOOL PERSONNEL
The Zones of Regulation were created by Leah Kuypers; it’s another great tool to help kids learn self-regulation skills. This framework is designed to help kids notice what they are thinking and feeling, how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior and learn to self-regulate. I absolutely love teaching the Zones of Regulation to kids. It’s such a great visual for them to see what zone their feelings are in and learn ways to get back to the green zone.
The Incredible 5-Point Scale by Kari Dunn Baron and Mitzi Curtis is a great resource for people to use in a school setting or a social group setting. It can be used to address a number of different issues, and it’s a great resource for working not only with kids on the spectrum, but for all kids who need a little extra teaching around social and emotional concerns. Read my review here.
You are a Social Detective is a great introduction to Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking, written especially for kids who struggle in social situations. The book is divided into 3 different sections. Whenever I use this book as a teaching tool, I read one section at a time.
It’s So Much Work To Be Your Friend - I LOVE this book. It is full of so much helpful and practical information for teachers working with kids struggling with social aspects of life. The social skill autopsy is such a great resource to help kids that I would highly recommend it if you are working with a child struggling in social interactions.
The Unwritten Rules of Friendship - Another great book for teachers with some practical advice for understanding what’s happening with children and with some advice for what to do to help support them. It’s divided into different personality traits/behavior characteristics (the shy child, the little adult) so you can just pick what you need to focus on and read that section. Read my review here.
Best Friends, Worst Enemies by Michael Thompson, PhD and Catherine O'Neill Grace. This book is a thorough examination of children’s social lives, from infancy through dating. The authors explore more specifics of how children develop friendships, manage and work through conflict, group dynamics, teasing and bullying.
A Volcano in My Tummy by Eliane Whitehouse - One of my favorite books to help kids identify and manage their anger. I used this all the time when I was a school counselor and kids found the worksheets very helpful.
MY FAVORITE BOOKS FOR KIDS
Get Organized Without Losing It - this is a great book to help kids who struggle with executive functioning tasks. This book covers setting up a homework area, managing school areas like your locker or desk, using an agenda, and managing time. It's really helpful to start these habits early in the year!!
Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain - I used to read part of this book to all of my 4th grade classes as part of our anti-bullying program. This book covers the importance of assertive body language in bullying situations and different ways to deal with bullies. I love the use of humor in this book, the kids always giggled even during the small section I read.
What to Do When You're Scared and Worried - This is a wonderful resource for kids experiencing anxiety. There's sections that help you identify what kind of anxiety the child is experiencing. Chapters go through specific activities and strategies to manage the feelings.
ALL ABOUT ANGER
For Early Elementary
When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang Poor sophie has a hard time managing her anger when she has to share gorilla with her sister. It’s a visually interesting book to show how big her feelings get and how it looks when she calms down again.
When I Feel Angry by Cornelia Maude Spelman This is part of “The Way I Feel” series. It explains how different things can make you angry, and that feeling angry is an expected part of life, but it’s what you do when you’re angry that matters.
Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners M.Ed. Another great book that talks about how anger affects your body and suggesting safe ways to express yourself.
Angry Octopus by Lori Lite and Max Stasuyk A great book that actually is a progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing script for kids. It’s wonderful!
Late Elementary School/Early Middle School Crowd:
Don’t Rant and Rave on Wednesdays by Adolph Moser It mentions the consequences of having unchecked anger, and acknowledges that adults struggle with this too. A large part of the book explains different strategies kids can use to express anger in a safe way, which I think is great.
How to Take The Grrrr Out of Anger by Elizabeth Verdick and Marjorie Lisovskis I love using this book for kids who are having a hard time managing being angry. I typically read one chapter at a time with the kids and work on some of the strategies listed in the book.
What to Do When Your Temper Flares by Dawn Huebner This book has lovely illustrations and goes through “anger dousing” methods.
Chillax!: How Ernie Learns to Chill Out, Relax and Take Charge of His Anger by Marcella Marino Craver This is a graphic novel, perfect for the tween set.
All ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
For the younger crowd
Join in and Play by Cheri J. Meiners - A simple to understand book about how kids can join the group and play with others.
How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen - This is part of a books series (How Do Dinosaurs Clean their Room, How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, etc) The images of the dinosaurs make kids giggle!
How To Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson - Cute, tongue-in-cheek book that describes how to lose your friends, and helps kids understand what they should (and shouldn’t!) do to make and keep friends.
How To Be A Friend by Laura Krasny Brown and Marc Brown - This book is actually divided into several different sections on different parts of friendship including how to handle some of the more challenging aspects of friends like manage arguments, how to handle bullies, etc. Sometimes what I’ve done is just read certain sections of the book at a time to focus on a particular friendship skill.
For the late elementary/early middle school crowd
How to Make and Keep Friends by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea - This book is quick and easy to read. There are 10 quick tips for 50 common social situations, like playdates at your house, joining in a group or staying on topic in a conversation. Read my review of the book here.
Girls Q&A book about friendship by Annie Fox, M.Ed - A great book about some of the more complicated situations that arise for tween girls. Annie Fox, M.Ed answers real girls questions in a relatable and practical way. Read my review here.
Making choices and making friends by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick. - This book is a part of a series focused on social competencies for kids, which I think is a great series. I find this book to be empowering for kids, letting them know that they have the power to be thoughtful and make decisions, and resolve issues in a respectful way.
Cliques, Phonies & Other Baloney by Trevor Romain - I love this author, he tackles serious issues like bullying and anger in a way that kids find humorous and relatable. I used to have kids borrow his books all the time from my office because they wanted to read more. This book is focused on managing cliques and the importance of being yourself.
Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them by Patti Kelley Criswell -This is an American Girl book, and it’s got some fun quizzes in it that kids enjoy taking. It even has craft project ideas for kids to do as a positive way to interact with one another, which you know I love.
A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles by Patti Kelley Criswell - This is another great American Girl book. I would often recommend this book to girls when I was a school counselor to help them understand that friendship troubles are common and there are things that can be done to help manage those difficulties. It helped kids focus on what a good positive friendship looks like and how to get there.
Dealing With Anxiety
My Amazing Monster Beth Cimler created a playful way to help kids manage their worries. Gobble is a super cuddly monster who has a special power. He can eat worries! Children can write or draw their worries on a piece of paper, then have Gobble eat them.
The beauty of this is that you can later go in and read the children's worries and start a discussion about how to deal with it. Beth's wrote a book to go along with Gobble, focused on going to the hospital. She also has a book coming out soon about being bullied. I can't wait to read it!
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn Classic about managing separation anxiety when kids start school. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher read this on our visit to school the first day.
When I miss you by Cornelia Maude Spelman This is perfect for little ones who have a hard time dealing with the fact that they are away from their parents during the day. It suggests a couple of things they can do to help and reassurance that parents will come back at the end of the day.
Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes (Kevin Henkes also wrote Chrysanthemum, one of my favorite books!) Poor Wemberley worries about everything, and then she gets really worried when she is about to start school.
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook I love that when Wilma Jean’s physical reactions are described, they’re also illustrated. When is says she has knots in her stomach and her knees lock, her stomach really looks like it’s tied in a knot and there’s a real lock around her knees. I love the activity she does with her teacher, going over worries she can control and worries she can’t, it’s a great way to help kids manage their anxiety.
David and the Worry Beast by Anne Marie Guanci David’s anxiety is a beast, and the more anxious he gets, the bigger it grows. David learns to control his thoughts, and his beast shrinks. There’s also a couple of pages for parents and kids in the back.
When My Worries Get Too Big by Kari Dunn Buron This book is wonderful! There are several pages where kids can add in their own thoughts, worries and what helps them relax. This book also uses the 5 point scale to talk about stress and different ways to manage it.
What To Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner, PhD This book goes through several ways that can help kids manage anxiety, including setting a time for worries, thinking about things that make you happy and resetting your body with activity or relaxation. There are some interactive places in this book, where a child can write down their worries, draw some images of things that might help, etc.
What To Do When You’re Scared and Worried by James J. Crist This is one of my favorite books for kids to help them deal with anxiety. Near the beginning of the book is a checklist that helps kids narrow down what they are anxious about. The beginning of the book covers the basics of what anxiety is and how to help manage with coping skills. The next section of the book goes into detail about different types of anxiety kids might experience, including Separation Anxiety, Phobias and Panic Attacks.
GREAT ITEMS FOR A COUNSELOR'S OFFICE
This game is one of my new favorite social skills games! Why? Because not only do I enjoy playing, children really enjoy playing. The main character in the game is Q, a super smart monkey but doesn’t always have the greatest social awareness and doesn’t always think about others. Q’s Race to the Top is super simple to learn. The game has three types of cards: Blue YOU Cards, Green Q Cards, Orange DO Cards. The counselor in me loves the Blue and Green cards, and the mom in me loves the Orange cards. they get kids moving and doing physical things that are fun and a little challenging. It’s perfect for a child who may have a hard time sitting still for a whole game. And the beauty is it makes children stay invested and involved with the game. Having the physical component is the perfect way to balance out the talking parts of the game.
Sometimes when kids are talking, they just need something to hold onto. If they have excess energy, sometimes they can use a fidget as a way to help release some of that. I kept several different kinds in a fidget basket in my office.
The repetitive motion of the Jacob’s Ladder and the gentle sounds can be soothing to kids. I always had a couple in my office at school for this reason.
There are so many kinds of stress balls out there. I’ve tried the kind that has mesh and goo squeezes out the side, but I will tell you that one often bursts quickly, yuck! You can purchase stress balls or make your own. I’ve made them with balloons and different materials like flour, lentils, rice or even play dough. They all have a different resistance and texture, so experiment and figure out which one works best for your child. See how our experiment with different stress balls worked here.
A simple and quick game to play during lunch group or when working one on one with a child.
This game can be a great distraction for kids when they come into an office. They need to concentrate, and it can take the focus off a conflict. It can also be a great game for kids to try to figure out together.
You might not know this, but Uno can be hardcore. I really loved playing Uno, because there are so many ways to play. I always liked to make sure that everyone was on the same page about the rules. Great practice for real life!
Great questions that can be used during lunch groups to start conversations.
I always kept this game around because some kids found it quite soothing to play. There is something about the smoothness of the marbles and the sound that they make when you drop them into the different spots on the mancala board.