Spring has officially sprung, but in some areas it still feels a lot like winter. Where I live, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it’s still in the 30s! If you’re sick of cold weather and ready to celebrate spring, this post is for you. It’s full of ideas for bringing spring inside your counseling office or classroom.
A Garden of Respect
When I think of spring, I think of flowers. I created a lesson that uses the growing process of flowers to teach students how to grow and foster respect.
First, I ask students if they can tell me what a flower needs to grow. This starts a discussion about flowers needing water, dirt, sunlight, and air. I then explain that like flowers, people need food, water, sunlight, and air to grow, too. In order to thrive, however, people need to be treated well and shown respect. We then talk about what it means to be respectful to someone else. Students share examples of ways they could be respectful, such as opening the door for someone else, telling someone he or she did a good job, or doing something nice for someone else.
I then give each student a paper flower. I explain that if we each do just one thing to be respectful to someone else, we can grow a garden of respect. The more we “tend” our garden of respect, the more it will grow and thrive. The people around us will also grow and thrive because they will be giving and receiving respect. I have students write one way they could show respect to someone else on the bloom of their flower. You can then create a bulletin board to showcase your garden of respect.
You can also have students grow real seeds. I purchased inexpensive mini terra-cotta seed starters for a girls’ group I facilitated. Students enjoyed planting their own seeds and watching them grow throughout the process of our group. This teaches students responsibility in addition to the respect lesson. The flowers serve as a daily or weekly reminder of your lesson.
You can also use The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, a story about the adventures of a seed, to accompany these activities.
Hop to It
Hopscotch is a great springtime playground game. If it’s too cold outside, you can bring hopscotch indoors! You can also give hopscotch an educational spin.
Use painter’s tape to create a hopscotch board on your office or classroom floor, and create questions that correspond with the numbers or colors of the hopscotch board. Have students take turns throwing a beanbag to an area on the hopscotch board.
Have students jump to the area where the beanbag lands. The student must then answer the corresponding question.
The best part about creating your own version of hopscotch is that you can make it be about whatever subject you want! Counselors can make it “feelings hopscotch,” and have a different feeling correspond with each number. When the student lands on that number he shares a time he felt that feeling. You could do variations of the game where students act out the feeling they land on or give an example of a way they cope when they feel that feeling.
Teachers could make the hopscotch about math questions, spelling words, or many other academic subjects.
Educational hopscotch is a fun way to get students up and moving while getting in the spring spirit!
Make Lunch a Picnic
An indoor picnic can be an easy and inexpensive group or classroom incentive.
Cover an area of your floor with tablecloths. Invite students who have earned the indoor picnic to bring their lunch and dine with you. If you are feeling extra creative, you can create “Picnic Passes” for students.
Provide students with a special drink, like punch or lemonade. You can make your indoor picnic as elaborate or as simple as you want.
Make your picnic educational by teaching students about manners.
Some books about manners you could use to accompany your picnic include:
Be Polite and Kind by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed.
Dude, That’s Rude! (Get Some Manners) by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Steve Mark
For teens, a good resource is How Rude!® by Alex J. Packer, Ph.D.
Counselors could also host indoor picnics for students related to different topics or issues throughout the spring.
How do you bring spring inside? What activities do you do to celebrate spring at your school?
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Be Fit, Be Strong, Be You by Rebecca Kajander, C.P.N.P., M.P.H., and Timothy Culbert, M.D.
Feelings In a Jar®
More Feelings In a Jar®
Respect by Courtney Macavinta and Andrea Vander Pluym
Respect and Take Care of Things by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed.