Who’s the important person in the box?

Well, what a strange time we find ourselves in, folks. We’re home, trying to balance work and family, trying to figure out what working from home for school counselors even looks like (still figuring this one out), trying to limit our trips to the pantry for more snacks, all the while remembering that most of what’s going on around us is completely out of our control.

What is in my control is finding my moments of happy. Part of my happy is realizing that I actually have the time to update my blog! And the first update I want to do is share one of my most loved ‘feel good’ lessons.

This ‘feel good’ self-esteem lesson is one I usually do with kindergarten and 1st grade. I start with showing them the words self-esteem on a mini whiteboard and we briefly discuss that self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves, and basically, that it’s good to feel good about yourself!

In kindergarten, I read Be Who You Are by Todd Parr, which is always a delight! It’s all about loving and accepting yourself for who you are.

In 1st grade, I read I’m Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. Also a fantastic book about liking ourselves, even when we make mistakes or come in last.

Then comes the best part. I take out a small cardboard box and I tell my students that there is a picture of a very special, very important person inside the box. I tell them they will each get a chance to peek at the very important person, but first, I want them to guess who it could be.

The guessing part is HILARIOUS. I have heard guesses like:

  • Themselves (there’s always one kid)
  • Their teacher (proving their teacher is like gold for them)
  • The principal (brown-noser….kidding!)
  • The president (depending on which news network their parents watch)
  • Their mom or dad (aww)
  • God (thoughtful answer, really)
  • Their pet (pets rule all for kids)
  • Me (good call, kid)

Next, I invite each student up, one at a time, to take a peek inside the box to see who the very special, very important person is. I tell them this part of the activity is to be SILENT. Nobody gets to talk about who they saw until everyone has had their turn. If there are any students I know will struggle with this much self-control, I call them up towards the end and prompt their silence again right before they look – this helps them be successful with this activity.

You guys, when they peek inside the box and see the important person, their smiles are everything!

After everyone has seen their own reflection, I call on each student (who wants to answer) and ask them specifically, “WHO did you see?” When they each answer “Me!” I ask them how that could be possible – was it a picture of all of them? They gleefully tell me it was a mirror.

Then I follow it up with asking them why in the world they think I would put a mirror inside a box, bring it to their classroom, and ask them all to look inside to see an important person? I get several responses usually – “For fun,” “To trick us,” and finally, someone will say, “Because you want us to know that we’re all important!” Ding, ding ding!

We end by reviewing self-esteem, and sometimes they want me, their teacher, or any helpers in the room to look inside the box too. 🙂

This lesson is one I’ve repeated for several years, and it’s one that teachers and students usually remember because, well, it makes you feel good! I have found that even when I repeat this with 1st graders who remember it from kindergarten, they still enjoy it.

Have you done this lesson or one like it? I’d love to hear about it!

A short post about self-esteem

HAppy kids

This will be a short post.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the issues I work on with students at my school. As I went through a mental list of particular students I meet with regularly, it suddenly clicked – for the majority of them, whatever issues we’re addressing stem from an unhealthy self-esteem.

The reasons I meet with students vary, of course, from conflicts with peers, friendship issues, family concerns, anger management, emotional awareness and expression, etc. But, for many of my students, the REAL reason, the deep down reason, is because they don’t have great self-esteem, and thus, are not actively solving their own problems because they don’t feel capable, or are acting out because they don’t feel cared about or loved.

This lead to me to thinking about the root causes of their low self-esteem. For some of my students, I know it has something to do with abandonment issues or negative talk at home. But, I felt like I needed to offer something to parents about this issue and why it’s so important.

So, I decided to create my February School Counselor Newsletter around the issue of self-esteem, what it is, why it matters, and how parents can help their own children develop healthy beliefs about themselves.

If you’d like to take a look at it, click here.

Happy vacation! 🙂