The humdrum of day-to-day school activities can become painfully dull for both you and your counseling students. So to spice things up a bit, consider moving the classroom outdoors for the day.
The best part of moving the kiddos outside is that you don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. The games you played as a child are still exciting and socially engaging today.
So to give you some ideas on how to get your counseling students outside, here’s a few of my favorite games.
Get Students Outside with Toss and Talk
If you’d like to encourage students to listen to one another, gain confidence, and take turns, toss and talk is an easy game to play at a moment’s notice.
You can buy toss and talk balls that are already geared toward your goals, or you can create your own with a simple ball and markers. A blow up beach ball is my favorite.
In case this is a new-to-you game, here’s the scoop: the point is to allow students to share something about themselves.
The game starts with the counselor passing the ball to a student and calling their name. The student catches the ball and reads the prompt their thumb is touching on the ball.
Students answer the prompts and then choose a student who has not yet had a turn, calls their name, and passes the ball.
Prompts can include questions about favorite holidays, favorite foods, or they can simply prompt students to share something they’re proud of themselves for (which can boost self-esteem). I have a toss’n talk dice game with 108 prompts if you don’t have the time to create your own. This is a page from that resource:
Change the Scenery
Children love to get outside of the classroom, and finding new places to stage your activities will only add to the enjoyment. Any little change, even the hallway outside of the classroom can be stimulating for students.
Take your students to the playground, the school’s front lawn, and even field trips to the library, park, camp, or other community spaces.
Any physical activity or play is good for the soul!
Duck, Duck, Goose To Get Students Outside
Duck, Duck, Goose is a timeless classic that teaches self-control in a very engaging way.
And that’s because it’s an exciting and spontaneous game for kids to play together. It also allows students to practice listening skills while waiting to hear “goose!” and get tapped on the head.
Duck, duck, goose also teaches students to plan ahead. While anticipating getting called upon, students plan their move and spring to action as soon as they can.
It also teaches students to control their impulses.
When waiting for their “name” to be called, students may feel the urge to burst forth with built-up energy so they can “win.”
Do You Want to Build A Snowman?
Stuck in the dead of winter?
Get students outside, have them form teams, and race to build a snowman.
Then, ask the groups to use their imagination and give the snowman a name, a job, and maybe even a family or pet.
Then, bring the rosy-cheeked students inside to tell the story of their frosty to the rest of the class.
Every child loves a scavenger hunt.
And hunts can easily be made into team activities where students work together to solve puzzles and find items.
Students will put their heads together to solve riddles and work with one another to solve problems.
You can turn any subject or social & emotional learning topic into a hunt. Use this “calming scavenger hunt” as a template to get started.
Red Light, Green Light
Another oldie but goodie it the tried-and-true Red Light, Green Light.
This classic is a fantastic game for those who may need to practice self-control. The stop-and-go commands help students with listening skills and helps them understand the kind of control they have over themselves.
If students have been cooped up indoors for too long, a simple classroom activity that can be brought outside is journaling.
Introduce a gratitude journal to your students on a lovely sunny day and ask them to write about something they’re grateful for in nature.
Yoga to Get Students Outside
Need to implement a moment of mindfulness with your counseling students?
What better way than to teach your students some easy yoga moves?
Yoga doesn’t have to be religious, if that’s a concern, it can simply include stretching and moments of quiet.
Grab these print and go mindful poses if you need some additional support.
In truth, any classroom activity can be taken outdoors, giving your students a change of scenery and some Vitamin D at the same time.