Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This is How My Body Feels When I'm ANGRY

Third group session today in my emotions/anger management first grade group! Last time, we focused on identifying feelings in others, and today, I wanted to focus on how the kiddos can tell what they're feeling in themselves. Since this group is mainly focusing on anger management, we talked about how we can tell we're angry based on what our body does or feels.

We practiced making "angry bodies" and while the kids flexed like The Hulk and pulled faces that rival Chris Farley's in the "Colombian Coffee Crystals" SNL sketch (above, I couldn't resist), I pointed out different things their bodies were doing. D's eyes got small and narrowed, J's face got red, N's fists balled up. We also talked about what happens inside our bodies when we get angry too, like heads pounding, stomachs getting in knots or butterflies, and hearts beating quickly.

My modified worksheet for today.
Once we got the basics down (and the boys calmed themselves down again, because they got pretty riled up), I sent the boys back to their tables to complete a coloring worksheet our of Colorful Counseling! Life Lessons Learned Through Drawing. I don't own this, but somewhere along the way I received copies of the anger management unit, which I recommend. Most of it is too advanced for these little guys, but this worksheet was good. I modified it a little bit to make the writing portion more simplified, and gave the boys bigger spaces to write in. While they drew their pictures, I circled around and commented on various aspects, and wrote in highlighter their answers to the questions below, so they could trace.

Each boy had really neat parts of their drawing, it was awesome to see their uniqueness. D's was done all in red, because he said red was a "mean color." N's had balled up fists and a big blue stomach, because he said that his tummy feels funny when he's been crying. J's drawing also had balled up fists and a big "yelling mouth." Most of the boys also drew a happy picture on the back. When they were finished drawing, we went back to the carpet to present our pictures. Each boy had a turn to be the presenter, where he described his picture and read each of the lines at the bottom. It gave us a good opportunity to talk about good listening behaviors and how to be a good presenter, as an added bonus!

Next week... relaxation and calming down, in which I will attempt to do a relaxation script with my squirmy friends. Wish me oodles of luck.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Feel... AWESOME!

Today for our group, I grabbed the wonderful Skillstreaming in Early Childhood book and taught Skill 21: Knowing Your Feelings. This was a great little lesson to practice identifying feelings in a variety of settings and talking about the situations in which we feel certain emotions.

We started by reading Feelings, by Aliki, which is a wonderful book and covers a ton of different feelings. The boys had a hard time getting past "mad, sad, happy," so the book gave us the chance to talk about "nervous, shy, excited" etc. We went page by page, reading each little snippet, pointing out characters and talking about what they're feeling and why. We also discussed times that they felt the same emotion.

After we finished examining the book (and they wanted to go through EVERY character), I had pictures printed off of people and animals showing different emotions. We went through each picture and I had the kiddos make up a little story about why each person or animal was feeling that way, and tell about a time that they felt that way too. It also gave us the opportunity to talk about different synonyms for each feeling (mad: angry, upset, frustrated, etc). Lots of repetition and praising, to the point that their teacher must've thought that we were accomplishing nothing!
My favorite animal photo from group today.

This was a good group today, the boys were on-task with minimal fidgeting. I find that it works really well with such a small group of students to just call them out individually if they're not raising their hands. If they are, then they get chosen and get verbal reinforcement ("D, I love how you raised your hand, thank you"). Next time, we're going to talk about how our body feels when we feel certain emotions, and how we can tell by looking at other people.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hot Potato, Hot Potato!

Today was the kick-off of my newest counseling group, hooray!! For this group, I'm going to be focusing on identifying feelings and the way the body feels when we have certain emotions, and ways that we can cope and problem-solve when we get upset. These boys have a lot of anger management issues, and when they get upset, they resort to screaming, crying, hiding under tables, hitting, and throwing things. It's especially hard for the little ones with significant emotional problems to express themselves properly, so that's what we're going to work on.

Today's group was just an introduction, laying of ground rules, and team building. I started the group by talking about what behaviors are safe and unsafe for us to use in group and reviewed the classroom rules. The kiddos were super rambunctious because they had just come back from speech. After some calming and reinforcing of the little things they were doing correctly ("I like how G's voice is on 0," "J, thank you for sitting criss-cross," "N is showing me ready behavior because his hands are in his lap," etc), we got on track and the boys chose their group name to be The Footballs.

The activity we did today was all about communication and working together. I blew up a balloon and the boys stood in a circle. The objective was to keep the balloon in the air. We brainstormed ways to hit the balloon (with our hands, knees, heads, elbows, etc) and how we have to hit it (gently, up, not across the room, not at another person). Each took their spot on the carpet and up the balloon went. As we went through the first very exciteable round, I got to point out a lot of skills:
  • Assertiveness - making sure they "called" the balloon by saying "I got it" if they planned on hitting it. It kept them all from running into each other and gave each boy ownership over that hit.
  • Turn-taking - one of the boys, J, got a little too riled up and kept hogging the balloon. I had the opportunity to redirect him to include the other boys, and had him sit out when he needed a break from the excitement to give the others a chance.
  • Apologizing - as expected, a few bumps occurred. We practiced saying a good apology when this happened (i.e. looking at the person in the eye, saying you're sorry, and why) and also accepting the apology with a "thank you, it's okay."
For the second round, I had the boys put their hands in their pockets or under their arms, and they had to keep the balloon in the air without using their hands. Obviously, this was much more challenging for kiddos with impulse control! Every time someone used their hands instead of another body part, I had to stop the game and remind them. D was excellent in this round and helped direct the boys to play appropriately as well (i.e. telling them to spread out so they wouldn't kick each other, reminding them about "no hands").

In retrospect, this game was probably a little above the kiddos level, but we made the best of it. Once we were done, I got the kiddos calmed down (a rather big task after jumping all over whacking a balloon around), and we processed a bit. We talked about what was easy, what was hard, and what we learned about working together and talking it out. They pooped out and lost attention pretty quickly, so processing was kept at a minimum.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

All About Emotions and Social Skills!

At one of our last bi-weekly meetings, my principal asked that my colleagues and I plan to do counseling groups in our 6:1+1 Special Classes to teach appropriate social skills that the kiddos may be lacking. I immediately jumped all over the idea, because it meant I could do a group in my new squish G's classroom! He's a "squish" because I want to hug and squish him... obvi.

As with the 5th grade social skills/anger management group that I ran a few years ago in a 6:1+1 classroom, I will outline and recap my lessons on this post as they are completed. And here we goooo!

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