At the end of every school year, I ask my sixth grade students to reflect back on all the classroom lessons they can remember from Kindergarten on up. Without fail, the lessons they remember the most are ones that I have used some type of hook, game or prop to go with it.
Using props in school counseling can increase student engagement and help make your lessons more memorable.
A prop is an object that is introduced in a lesson that illustrates an important point or concept. School counselors teach a lot of classroom lessons and facilitate many individual and group counseling sessions per week.
The pressure to keep students attention is a daily struggle and can feel overwhelming, especially this time of year! Incorporating props into lesson plans can be a valuable resource in helping to add enthusiasm and interest.
When it comes time to add props to your school counseling program, here are four things to consider:
Students don’t all learn in the same manner. It is important to create an environment that addresses various learning styles. Multi-sensory lessons are essential in meeting the needs of all students.
Introducing props that incorporate visual, auditory or kinesthetic aspects serves as a way to make personal connections with students and their particular style of learning.
Coming up with props to use for counseling lessons doesn’t have to be an elaborate or time-consuming process. Looking around your house for items to match a lesson is a great start.
For my first lesson of the year, I wanted to read the book, How Full is Your Bucket, By Tom Rath. I found a cute sand bucket and shovel set in my summer bag that I thought would pair nicely with the book. I added a label, and made Bucket Filler or Bucket Dipper example cards to make a game for my classroom lesson. It didn’t take long to prepare, and my students responded positively to this lesson.
Props don’t have to break the bank! In fact, they can be pretty inexpensive. If you can’t find what you’re looking for around your house, anytime you are out shopping you can be on the lookout for fun prop items. Some tried and true places to look are:
Target Dollar Spot: This section is a school counselor’s dream! It is restocked often and many items are geared towards educators.
Dollar Tree: Great selection of games, bags, and other visual aids.
Local Thrift Store: Some of my favorite, unique, quirky props have come from thrift stores.
Oriental Trading Company: Offers a wide variety of inflatables, fun holiday items, and creative games.
Another option to think about when trying to cut down costs is sharing props and lesson items with other school counselors in your district.
School counselor offices aren’t known for being the most spacious. Due to this, it is important to be selective in what props you purchase. If not, it’s easy to have these items take over your office and take up valuable space.
One of my favorite types of props is inflatables. They can enlarge for the counseling lesson but then decrease in size for storage. Inflatables are great for counseling games or can be used solely as a visual aid.
For example, I used an inflatable tire as a visual aid on a lesson about attitude. The lesson was based on the quote: “A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you change it.”
In the lesson, I discussed five ways to “pump up” a flat attitude. As each point was discussed, I placed the statement on the tire using Velcro. This prop worked as a great visual reminder of the five points I wanted my students to take away from my lesson.
With office space considerations, I love props that serve more than one purpose. This Get to Know You Icebreaker activity is one that I’ve used in small group sessions, classroom lessons as brain breaks, and at the beginning of the year faculty meeting for staff. I keep this as a fun counseling decoration in my office and I am able to reuse the jar over and over again for other games and activities.
Adding props to your school counseling program gives you a chance to have fun and be creative! Props help you make personal connections to your students by relating to them in their unique learning style. Props make it easy to make an ordinary lesson extraordinary!
Pin this for later and check out other creative school counseling ideas!