Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Positive Trading Cards! {Creative Therapy Idea}

This project was SO fun, my girls in my 8th grade group begged me to do it again. They loved using all of the different art supplies and getting to be creative. I even had one student ask me if I got paid to do this. I loved that comment :)

Positive Trading Cards:

The purpose of this activity is to increase positive thinking among students. 


A deck of playing cards (I bought mine at Dollar Tree)
Various Art Supplies:
          Scrapbook paper, paints, old magazines, scissors, glue, sparkles (whatever you can find!)


I told the girls we would be making positive trading cards. The only guideline was that they needed to create something positive on the cards, it could be a positive quality or something that inspires them. I asked them to make cards for themselves and at least one to give to another person. 

I gave the girls a few playing cards and told them they could make them over however they would like. I found that using glue sticks and scrap book paper did work best. The painting was a little challenging with the texture of the cards.

One thing I loved about this activity was the time we spent talking while they were creating their cards. It was an open, informal dialogue and I got to know a lot about the girls. We turned on music, talked and had fun creating pretty things. 

This lasted 2 group sessions. I asked the girls to present their cards at the end of the last session. 


This activity was inspired by something I found on Pinterest, here is the link!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

4 Ingredient Brownie Cookies...Yum!

Are they brownies or cookies? It definitely does not matter! I thought up this recipe this evening while we were snowed in. They are SO good! My husband actually said he was mad at me because they tasted so great ;)

How to make them:

Pouch of brownie mix (I used Everday Essentials)
Instant Chocolate Pudding
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the pouch of brownie mix and chocolate pudding mix. Add the egg and vegetable oil. Stir with a spoon until batter is moist, not runny.

Roll into little balls, place on cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes about 15 cookies, depending on size. Enjoy!

Missouri.com Article Extras!

I had several articles published this past week, I am excited! I love writing for Missouri.com and seeing my work published. Here are the links to my articles and some additional photos.

The Old Dutch Hotel and Tavern in Washington, MO


Nothing Fancy Cafe in Union, MO

Lewis Cafe in St. Clair, MO

Three 3am Bars in St. Louis

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Creative Therapy: What do healthy relationships look like?

This has been one of my favorite activities to do with my girls group! It is so interesting to see what kinds of things the girls use to define a "healthy relationship".

I start out the group by talking about healthy relationships.

  • What do you look for in a relationship? 
  • What does your ideal or "dream" relationship look like? 
  • What kinds of qualities will this person have? 
  • Is there anything you don't want in a relationship?
After a short discussion, the girls got to work on their collages. I gave them some old magazines, canvases, scissors and glue. 

Here are some of the finished products:

Each girl got to present her collage to the group. It sparked a lot of discussion. 

We discussed things they would want their significant other to do for them, such as cook, clean or work hard. We discussed the topic of presents and gifts. We discussed physical qualities and physical affection.

The girls in my groups always amaze me with their creativity and ideas. This was definitely a fun project! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Grief and Loss: This is not a group.

I have posted before about the grief and loss groups I facilitate at work. I run four groups on Mondays and 1 group on Thursdays. I have done this every week since November. So you would think I have become an expert on this, right?

Not exactly.

It is a whole new ball game when it's personal. I have been through loss before. One of the hardest times in my life was when my son's father passed away in 2006. It was sad and tragic. I had a very hard time coping. My son was only five at the time, so I dealt with my own loss more than his. I grieved over the future he would never have with his dad.

Now, my Nana is going to pass away soon. She is older (in her 70's) and has lived a wonderful life. My son is now twelve and having a very hard time dealing with this. I knew he would be sad, but I didn't think this would impact him as much as it has. No amount of knowledge or preparation can ready someone to see their child truly in such a state of sadness.

This must be one of the hardest parts of being a mother. I think I am saying all of the "right" things. I have officially gone "counselor" on him. I am spending more time with him, telling him about death, telling him it is ok to be sad, and trying to make him laugh. But there is nothing I can do to make him feel better.

I know this is a part of being a mother, but that doesn't make it any easier. I know with time he will be ok. The pain lessens and sadness will not be there everyday. It's just waiting for this time to be over that is the hardest. Seeing him sad multiplies my sadness by a million.

I think sometimes the stars align just right to fill us with sadness before moving on to a better time.

One of my co-workers recently passed away (last week). He was only 61. When I was younger, that was ancient to me, but now, it seems way too young. He was a wonderful man and helped so many people. The sadness I feel for his family is overwhelming.

I am trying to reach into my mind for all of the words of "wisdom" I had to offer my students during their time of grief. I think what helped them most was not the art, not the games and not the activities. I think it was just being with each other and knowing they weren't alone.

Everyone dies. We teach our children to tie their shoes, do their chores and study hard. As well we must teach them about death and how to lose someone we love.

Books to Movies: What I'm Reading

I love to read. Sometimes. Other times I get caught up in life and don't have the time or motivation. I have found a new reading hobby: Reading books that will be made into movies. I love the idea of reading a story and then seeing it come to life. Is it what I imagined in my mind? How is the story different?

In 2013, I would like to read more books. I forgot how a book can take you to a whole different world, it's like your mind is on a mini vacation. Not to mention, it does set a good example for my 12 year old to see Mom reading instead of Facebooking or Pinteresting.

Here is what I have read over the past few weeks:

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
I saw the movie and I loved it as well!

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
The movie was quite different than the book, but I equally enjoyed them both!

I am currently reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
I can't wait to see the movie!

Any suggestions for me on books that will be made into movies this year?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Communication Practice with Catch Phrase!

This week, I used the game "catch phrase" to stimulate some communication development in my groups. The kids had a blast!

Summary of play:

I wrote down a variety of words on little slips of paper. I used about 100 words for groups of 6. The words were people, places and things. I picked words that I believed to be the most relevant to high schoolers.

I put the slips of paper into an envelope.

At the beginning of group, we discussed communication and why it was important in friendships. We also discussed what makes communication difficult. Then it was game time!

I had them get into pairs. One member pulls a word from the envelope. Without saying the actual word, they try and get their partner to guess what their word is. When they guess it, the same person pulls out another word and continues. The goal is to see how many words the other person can guess in 60 seconds.

Each pair takes a turn, then the guesser becomes the person who draws a word.

We played for about 30 minutes and then tallied up the points.

We closed the group session by discussing ways that we could improve our communication skills.

You can find full instructions for the game and some great printable word lists at The Game Gal.


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