Meet the Counselor Lessons and Activities for the Beginning of the School Year
Updated: Sep 29
As a school counselor or school social worker, or counseling intern, what classroom activities or lessons do you do at the beginning of the year to start your year off great? In this blog post I’ll review four easy to implement, fun, and engaging meet the counselor, meet the school social worker, and meet the school psychologist lessons and activities to help you build rapport with new classes or groups at the beginning of the year!
These lessons can also be used if you come into your role a bit later in the school year too. After each activity, I like to have the students take home some type of handout they can share with their families, whether it's a coloring page for first grade, or a brochure for older grades. I have these meet the school counselor, meet the school social worker, and meet the school psychologist freebies to share with you too! Just subscribe to my resource library (and confirm the opt-in email) and you'll gain access to my whole SEL library!
Early Elementary and Kindergarten Mrs. Potato Head Meet the Counselor Lesson
One of the first things I like to do at the beginning of each school year is a meet the counselor lessons in the classrooms that are on my caseload. This is a great way to introduce myself and for new students to get to know me and my role as well.
My job title is actually School Adjustment Counselor, and my state license is School Social Worker/School Adjustment Counselor but I find it’s often easier for young children to call me a school counselor. I have included free printables that include school counselor, school social worker, and school psychologist too!
I cover a few different grades and I like to do a different lesson with each different grade. With kindergarten, I usually use the classic Meet the Counselor Mrs. Potato Head Lesson. I’ve found it is a memorable beginning of the year activity for most kids!
First, I tell the students my name and ask them what they think a school counselor does. Their answers are usually pretty hilarious! Then, I show them the Mrs. Potato Head toy with only her hair, nose, and legs on. I then ask them if they've ever seen something like this before. There are always lots of kids in the class who know what the toy is! I then ask them if they think she looks a little silly and might be missing anything? They usually get very excited here!
I tell them I'm going to use my Mrs. Potato Head to help explain my job as a school counselor. I have a bucket with the rest of the parts in there (including hands, mouth, ears, eyes, and a bag), and I call on students to pull out an item from the bucket, show and tell the class what the item they pulled out is, and have them try to guess how that piece is related to the role of a counselor. For example:
I use my HANDS for high-fives, helping you, walking you where you need to be, and holding your hand if you need a friend.
I use my MOUTH to smile at you and talk to you.
I use my EARS for listening to you. If you want someone to listen to you, that’s a big part of what I do!
I use my EYES to help you solve problems and see things in a new way.
And I have my BAG of tools to help you solve problems or deal with your big feelings.
I keep the Mrs. Potato Head in my office all year long, so if a child comes to see me for a small group, or individual session, it’s a fun reminder for them! Years later, many kids tell me how they remember the Mrs. Potato Head lesson!
I've seen some counselors who even use a Potato Head costume or a Mrs. Potato Head shirt to do this lesson, which sounds so fun too! If you use a similar introduction to the counselor lesson, I’m curious what other variations you use with it? You can also check ut my video over on Instagram where I also shared this lesson.
Upper Elementary: Introduction to the School Counselor Toolbox Lesson
There are so many fun ways to do a meet the counselor, meet the school social worker, or meet the school psychologist classroom lesson at the beginning of the year! This toolbox activity is a great lesson to do with upper elementary and older students, since it's too abstract for our youngest learners. I made this Meet the Counselor Toolbox years ago, I got some of the ideas from the web and I made the sticker with my Cricut machine. I show the students the toolbox and I like to have them pull out an object from the toolbox and then have them try to relate it to the job of a school counselor. The students always come up with some very creative and inspiring responses!
This School Counselor Toolbox has:
Ears: I'm a good listener.
Heart: (I made my from fun foam with some fun bandaids on it) I can help you when your heart is hurting.
Measuring Tape: I can help you learn to measure the size of your challenges.
Eraser: I can help you learn that it's okay to make mistakes.
Puzzle Piece: I can teach you strategies to help you solve problems.
Glasses: I can help you see things from a new perspective.
Star: I can help you set goals and reach for the stars.
Lifesaver: I can help you if you're struggling.
A slide of cake (or a Trophy or medal): I can celebrate your accomplishments with you!
Penny: I can help you see your worth and value.
You can also check out my video over on Instagram where I also shared this lesson. And if you do the lesson, how do you do it or what would you add?
Meet the Counselor Jeopardy Game for Older Students
I am such a fan of Jeopardy! It is such a classic and fun game. When Alex Trebek hosted it, my family watched it every night after we ate dinner together. You can build your own custom meet the counselor, meet the social worker, or meet the school psychologist jeopardy game at jeopardylabs.com. This is a fun introduction to the counselor lesson to do with older kids (upper elementary, middle school, and even high school.) I usually make teams in the classroom. The kids really get into it!
I take interns sometimes, so if I have an intern that year, I always customize the jeopardy game to include them. Some topics to consider for your own meet the counselor jeopardy game include:
The counselor, social worker, psychologist, and/or intern’s name
Where your office is located
The role of the counselor, social worker, psychologist, and intern
Name a reason you might talk to your counselor
How to request to see the counselor
Name a rule for visiting the counseling office
Name a rule for counseling classroom lessons
You might even use different type of categories like a grab bag and include prompts about making friends, safety issues, bullying, self-control, expected behavior, etc. You can also have a category to discuss CASEL’s 5 social emotional learning competencies. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Self-awareness: Share one or more interests you have.
Social awareness: How can you tell that a classmate might be feeling left out?
Relationship skills: Use an I statement (“I feel ____ when you ____. Can you please ___?”) in this situation: Your classmate keeps tapping their pencil on your chair.
Responsible decision making: If your friend asks you to steal something at the mall, what would you say and do?
Self-management: Name a helpful thought you can choose if you are starting to feel angry with your little brother who keeps interrupting you.
You can also phrase your jeopardy categories and questions in many different ways like:
Fill in the blank: “My counselor can help me with ____.”
True or false: “All of my feelings are okay.”
Two truths and a lie: “My counselor does my math homework for me.” “My counselor likes to talk about feelings.” “My counselor’s office is on the first floor.”
Role play: Show us what you would do if you were in Ms. Smith’s class and the substitute blamed you for something you didn’t do.
Here are some examples others have made to get you inspired!
Using Books to Introduce Your Role as a School Counselor
I am a huge fan of bibliotherapy and reading, so I love using picture books in my work with kids! Over the years, I have used some different books to introduce my role as a school counselor. Here are some books you could consider with your lesson:
Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives: Introducing the School Counselor by Erainna Winnett is a cute book about Mrs. Joyce, the school counselor at Emerson Elementary who uses high-fives to build relationships and connect with her students. There is a new student named Raymond and at first he's not sure what to think of Mrs. Joyce. He learns to trust his caring counselor once he learns the job of a school counselor. This is cute book and you can have the students trace their hands and make their own high five art.
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is a book about a boy named Taylor who becomes upset when his block tower falls down. Many animal friends try different strategies to help him, but eventually, it's the rabbit who helps Taylor the most, by listening to him. This is easy to tie in the role of a counselor as being similar to te rabbit who shows his caring with unconditional positive regard and listening.
Who's Ms. Sand Dollar? by Barbara M. King and Laurie Wilcox-Meyer is a cute book to introduce the role of a school counselor.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is a well-known book that can be used to relate the character of the octopus in the story, to that of the school counselor.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold isn't exactly about counselors but I absolutely love this book and so I have read it to classes because I think it's a fabulous, welcoming, and inclusive way to start the new school year! How do you introduce your role as a school psychologist, school social worker, or school counselor to your students? Do you use any other books? I'd love to hear from you! Please comment below or share with me over on instagram!