Danielle Monday, September 6, 2010 8:31 AM I recently discovered Smilemakers, a company owned by Staples. Smilemakers slogan is "Stickers, toys, and prizes from Smilemakers help you make kids smile!" Smilemakers has some great products school counselors can utilize. Below, I outline the products I purchased and how I plan to use them. I also give suggestions of other products from Smilemakers school counselors may find useful.
I purchased conversation cubes from Smilemakers to use in my group counseling sessions. I like to do an ice breaker before each session to help students get to know each other and feel comfortable. The conversation cubes are great for this because students can roll the cube and answer the question. The conversation cubes are a big time saver for me! Before I purchased the conversation cubes, I used a paper box template to for my icebreaker questions. The paper box served its purpose, but I found I needed to keep making them over and over again because they got dirty, ripped, or crinkled from wear. The conversation cubes are made out of a soft foam material. They have a similar consistency to a stress ball so they are very durable. There are 6 conversation cubes in the set with a total of 36 questions. Some of the questions on the conversation cubes include: "What do you want to be when you are older?, What do you like to do in cold weather, and What is the strangest dream you have had?"
I have been searching far and wide for large dice. The inflatable dice I purchased from Smilemakers are exactly what I was looking for. I sometimes use dice in groups for icebreaker questions to mix things up a bit. I come up with a numbered list of questions and write them on chart paper. Students roll the die and they have to answer the question that corresponds to the number on the die. Some students have trouble seeing the regular sized die because it is small. Others want to know what number the student picked but can't see across the table. The size of the inflatable die allows everyone to see. Sometimes dice falls on the floor when students are rolling them and it takes awhile for students to find it. Because of the size of the inflatable dice, students will have no trouble finding them if they get dropped on the floor.
The conversation cubes and inflatable dice from Smilemakers are perfect supplements for use with Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for Kids, a curriculum I use for anger management and conflict resolution groups. Seeing Red has great icebreakers at the beginning of each session that could be utilized for almost any type of counseling group.
I plan to facilitate many career related activities this school year. I was looking for career materials to use for bulletin boards and other activities. Smilemakers has a 2 pack of 12 different cardboard Community Helpers Visors. I used the visors to display on a bulletin board I titled "Career Construction Zone." A fan of School Counselor Blog on facebook, Barb, suggested to make the bulletin board a guessing game and have students win a prize if they can correctly name all of the careers. She also suggested using newspaper want ads as a background, which I thought was a really cool and cheap idea.
***Unfortunately during the writing of this blog post, Smilemakers is no longer carrying this product.*** Other places where you could find career hats include: a craft store such as Michael's, a dollar store, Target, or Walmart. If you have other suggestions, please comment below, post on School Counselor Blog Facebook page or email me.
Other Items from Smilemakers School Counselors Could Utilize
Besides pencils, toys, and other giveaways, Smilemakers has a few other cool products school counselors could utilize.
My Counselor Sticker Rolls
Smilemakers has rolls of stickers for counselors to give to students. I thought these stickers would be cool to hand out during National School Counseling Week in February or other events promoting the school counseling program, such as open house or meet the teacher night. My Counselor Sticker Rolls include 5 different sticker styles including: "My Counselor Cares About Me!, My Counselor Thinks I'm Great!, My Counselor Thinks I'm Super!, My Counselor Says I'm Terrific!, and My Counselor Says I'm Special!"
Community Helpers Fun to Know Puzzles
The Community Helpers Fun to Know Puzzle is a game where children match the occupation to the tools or equipment they use. The Community Helpers Fun to Know Puzzle is recommended for PreK-1. If the students you work with do not have exposure to many different careers this product could be used in older grades as well. The Community Helpers Fun to Know Puzzle could be used for bulletin boards and as a guessing game for students much like the suggestion for the career bulletin board I created with the Community Helpers Visors.
Smilemakers runs different specials all the time. Sometimes they have free shipping on all orders! Sometimes they even send customers 10% off coupons too! I received the items I ordered in about three days!
Comment below, email me, or visit the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page to share your favorite products from Smilemakers or other companies!
Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a blog where school counselors can share creative lesson plans, innovative ideas and quality resources. You can contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.