I am always in search of inexpensive items with therapeutic or instructional value. After-season sales are a great time to purchase items for your school counseling office. The following items are deeply discounted after Halloween and make a spook-tacular addition to your office or classroom year-round.
One of my favorite items to purchase after Halloween is “Trick-or-Treat” packs of Play-Doh. Play-Doh is sold in the small party-size packs year-round, but after Halloween you can get the same great size for a much smaller price.
The party-size jars of Play-Doh are great to use for group counseling activities and individual sessions. Playing with Play-Doh itself can be a great stress reliever for kids. Some more directive activities I like to do with students include:
- Animal Personalities. Have students use Play-Doh to create an animal that matches their personality. Ask students questions about their animal and have them explain how they are like the animal they created. Example: Kayla created a cat out of her Play-Doh. She explained, “I am like a cat because I am curious and sometimes I like to be by myself. I like to spend time by myself in my room reading mystery books.”
- Feelings. Have students create a feelings face with Play-Doh in response to questions or a book you are reading. Ask students to name the feeling or emotion being expressed and explain their Play-Doh creation. Example: Janessa’s best friend Ashley is hanging out with a new group of students. Ashley told Janessa she does not want to play with her at recess. Make a feelings face of how you think Janessa might be feeling in this situation.
- Coping Skills. Have students create hobbies and other activities they can do to calm down when they are feeling upset. Example: Jaquan created a basketball. He explained, “When I am mad, I like to play basketball with my friends. It helps me get out my anger.”
Costumes and Accessories
Costumes and accessories are also deeply discounted after Halloween. Whether you work with elementary, middle school, or high school students, there are a variety of costumes and accessories you can use in your work as a school counselor or teacher.
- Mask. Masks are a great item to purchase and are usually very cheap. Look for plain full-face masks that you can decorate with art supplies. You can use masks to talk about how people sometimes show different emotions on the outside than how they feel on the inside.
- Hat. Look for a variety of different cheap hats. You can use the hats to demonstrate that school counselors and teachers wear many different hats in the school. You can also purchase career-themed hats such as a police officer, firefighter, chef, pilot, etc., to use for career week, a bulletin board, or a conversation starter about careers.
- Cape. A cape can be used as a prop in a classroom lesson to talk about being a “hero” bystander. You can have students come up with examples of how to be a hero bystander such as telling an adult when they witness someone being bullied, being a good friend to their classmates, or telling someone “that’s not okay” when they witness that person being mean to someone else.
- Other Accessories. Having a mixture of costumes and accessories for students to use in creative play is great for younger students. They are often able to express things through play that they are not able to articulate verbally. Magic wands, animal costumes, wigs, and other items can make great additions to your dress-up collection.
Just because the packaging says Halloween on the outside doesn’t mean you can’t use it after Halloween! Candy items that have different flavors or colors are great to use for games and icebreakers. Here are some examples of candy that works well for icebreakers.
- M&M Fun Size packs
- Jolly Ranchers
You can create or find questions that correspond to the candy or wrapper color. Have students pick a candy and then answer the question that corresponds with the candy they chose. Example: For every red M&M you have in your bag, share something you can do to calm yourself down when you feel angry. For every yellow M&M you have, share something that makes you happy.
Note: Some schools do not allow you to give candy to students.
Other “Fun-Sized” Items
During the Halloween season, often lots of different types of items are available in smaller sizes to be handed out in place of candy. Many of these items can be used as prizes or for activities. Items I have seen include: bubbles, Legos, toy cars, buckets, and games.
Using seasonal items year-round requires some creativity and thinking outside of the box, but it can be great for your budget!
What seasonal items do you use in your school counseling office or classroom year-round? What end-of-season items have you found at a discount this year?
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