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Saturday, April 27, 2013

End of the Year Closure Lessons

This week was very bitter sweet for me, though more sweet than bitter! I have now finished my school counseling internship and will be graduating in just two weeks! This week consisted of tying up some loose ends with individual students and saying my good-byes to groups and classes. Below are some of the closing/termination activities that I did with my students, and some that I didn't do but wanted to share anyways. I hope you enjoy!


  • Paper Finger Puppets- Found on the blog Seven Thirty Three, I taught some of my younger students how to make these very simple puppets. A lot of my individual work with the younger students has involved puppets. As a final individual session, we both made a paper finger puppet and used it to say goodbye. The students absolutely LOVED it! And it gave them something to take with them to remind them of our time together. 
  • Writing notes- Before I left for the year, I wrote several of the students personalized notes emphasizing their growth over the school year, and included some empowering words to encourage them to continue to work towards their goals. 
  • Bridge- Have the student draw a bridge in the middle of a sheet of paper. One one side is where the student used to be, and on the other is where he is now. Under the bridge- what obstacles did you have to overcome? This can also be done with two bridges, with the last one being where you would like to be, and what obstacles you might have to overcome to get there. This activity can be used at the beginning of counseling as well to give direction to the sessions. 
  • Letters to the past/future you-Have the student write a letter to him/herself in the past or the future. If you could time travel to the past/future what would you tell yourself?
  • Lines of Feelings. Ask the student to draw a line that represents their feelings over the past (year, month, week, etc). All of the lines will vary, but usually the jagged or rough lines in red or orange are used to signify anger or discontent, and the smooth, flowing lines in blues and greens are usually used to show calmness and contentment. After the lines are drawn, the student can expand on them by writing about what the lines represent, how it feels to draw them, or to whom or what they are directed.  

  • Flower Petals- The flower represents the group growing over time. A flower starts as a bud, and you can not see the petals yet. But over time, with water and sun, the petals begin to unfold, creating a beautiful flower. Place a circle in the center of the group, and tell them that this represents the bud, before group began. There were many things that you know now that you didnt know before. Give each student a paper flower petal, and say one thing that they have learned from the group. Have the student symbolically tape the flower petal to the circle. Continue until everyone has done this. 
  • String tying- From Diane Senn's book Creative Approaches to Counseling Individual Children. I used this at the end of my fourth grade girls friendship group to help remind the girls that it is okay to ask for help when they have problems, and that your friends are often a great source of help. Start by giving each girl a string that is at least one foot long. Tell them to tie a knot in a string. This is pretty simple for them to do. Some problems are easy to handle yourself. Then, instruct them to hold both ends of the string without letting go and tie a knot. Tell them that it is okay to ask for help. After letting them try for a few minutes, ask them if they would like some help. Ask one student to cross her arms, then hand her the ends of the string in each of her hands. Have her unfold her arms without letting go of the string, and a knot will be tied in the string. Allow the girls to help one another with this. Tell the girls that sometimes we have problems that we are not sure how to fix, and it is okay to ask someone else for help, and sometimes it takes a creative solution to solve their problems. Friends help us get through some of the tough problems we have, but when friends cant help, your school counselor is still there for you. 
  • Choose a Picture- Print out a variety of different pictures, such as animals, scenery, symbolic pictures, people, etc that represent a variety of emotions and different points of view- both positive and negative. Lay the pictures out on the floor and ask students to choose the picture that shows how they feel, what they will take away from the experience/group. Process what the picture chosen means to each individual. This site does a great job of explaining this method of closure. 
  • Group Puzzle/Mandala- Give each student a piece of the puzzle or a piece of the mandala and let each student decorate it. At the end, let each student symbolically place their puzzle piece or mandala piece back into the puzzle, saying one thing that they have enjoyed or have learned during the group. Allow students to keep the finished product in their class to remember the good times together.
  • The Giving Tree- I wanted to incorporate a finger-print tree into the lesson somehow, and my supervisor suggested I use the The Giving Tree with it. That got my wheels turning! I used the book with first grade and up, adjusting the lesson slightly to accommodate for developmental differences. Before reading the book, I asked the students to be thinking about who they can relate to more- the tree or the boy. I then read the book to the class without stopping for inserting my own interpretation of what was going on. After I read the book, I asked them again who thinks they are more like the tree or more like the boy. In most classes it was about half and half. I let a few students explain why they thought they were more like one or the other. Then I told them that sometimes I feel like both. I feel like the tree because as a counselor, I will gladly give my students anything and everything that I have to help them when they need it. But at times, I have felt like the boy, and the students were the tree. In the same way that the boy got what he needed every time he asked for it, I got what I needed to become a school counselor from the students. I told them that they have taught me so much more than I have taught them this year, and thanked them for helping me learn how to be a school counselor. At the end of the lesson, I let each student come up and put a finger print on the tree, using a washable marker. (In later classes I decided to just have them write their names on the branches in different colors). I then wrote a note to the class and gave it back to them to keep in their classroom to remember our time together, and to remember that it's okay to be like the tree AND like the boy. 
  • Toss 'n Talk ball- For some classes, the students had many questions for me about why I am leaving and what I would be doing after I'm gone. After answering a few questions, I got out a inflatable ball and asked students what their favorite memory with me was this year, in 2-3 words. I used the ball as a talking tool- only the person who has the ball can talk. I gave each student a turn to catch the ball and say a favorite memory. 
  • Class Rap- I did not do this one, but it was my back up. The students are finishing up a poetry unit, so to incorporate this, I was going to have the students write a haiku about what they will take away from our time together this year. After they wrote the poems, we would all sit in a circle. Depending on the age and ability, I would divide the class into 2-4 groups, and give each group a rhythm to clap to a given beat, and maybe even having a student being our "beatboxer" to be our percussion. Then one at a time, students would read their poems in rhythm with the class's beat. 
  • Empowering Words- Adapted from  Close the year out with some positive and encouraging words! Have students think about some thoughts that help them feel better when they are feeling sad.This is called positive self-talk. Brainstorm thoughts that can help on the board. After the class is brainstormed out, have them choose one statement that is meaningful to them and draw a picture about it. Allow time to share. Remind kids that even though they may feel sad about things (such as a teacher/counselor intern leaving them, or something else sad), they have the power to control their thoughts and can think about these things to make them feel better. Leave with encouraging words challenging them to be their best! (These positive self-statements could make a nice end-of-year bulletin board!)
  • Paper Quilt- have each student draw their favorite memory from the year on a square sheet of paper. Tape the pictures together, or put into a gallon-bag quilt format to display, like the one here

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