Landing your first school counseling position can seem like a dream come true! However, some of that joy can lead to stress when it comes to setting up your office.
The list below outlines some of my favorite (and inexpensive) supplies to make any elementary counseling office ready to rock’n roll on the first day of school.
Elementary counselors have unique challenges given the span of grade levels and developmental abilities of their students. We need to be able to appeal to the interests of 4-12 year-olds. Books that are engaging to 5th graders can be too advanced for our kinders…and games our kinders and firsties are into can seem “babyish” to the preteen set.
To complicate matters, the market is flooded with resources that look awesome. Unfortunately, these resources are expensive and only target a small portion of the population you serve.
So what’s a new school counselor to do?
I’ve created a list of essential supplies every elementary school counselor should have. Not only will these supplies help you support the diverse needs of your students, but they are also easy on the wallet!
STICKERS!!! <- It’s a must for ALL elementary counselors. Scented stickers are my students favorite! Superhero, princess, Disney, and animal are also very popular.
Prize Box: I have a prize box for when new students complete their scavenger hunt or when my students complete their behavior chart. A dollar store plastic shoe box works well – jazzing the box up with sharpies and/or stickers adds a bit of wow factor for our little ones. 😉
The items in your box don’t need to break the bank. My students LOVE old McDonald toys, mechanical pencils, and temporary tattoos. Around Christmas, you can find packs of small plastic animals for a great bargain. You can also find fancy erasers, stamps, mini notebooks in the clearance aisle from time to time.
Paper for the Counselor’s Office
Copy paper has a million and one uses…ok, bit of an exaggeration but there are A LOT of activities you can do with a blank sheet of white paper.
Bright color paper: Plain copy paper has a way of blending in with all of the other notes that get sent home. Make your parent correspondence stand out by using brightly colored copy paper. An added bonus: using colored paper for your counseling forms makes it easy to locate them quickly! <- It’s super helpful if you color-code the different types of parent communication and counseling forms.
White card stock: Elementary students (k-5) love making things. Cardstock is more durable than copy paper and should be used if the craft has moving parts.
Construction paper: Another staple for our crafty kids. My students make a lot of cards and other creations for their family members.
Crayons: You will need a few boxes for when you are working with more than one student.
Colored pencils: Older students tend to prefer colored pencils over crayons.
Fine tip markers: Students should use fine tip markers over traditional markers if details are important to the activity.
Markers: Kids love markers…if you can snag some scented ones – all the better!
****Don’t forget to purchase multicultural crayons, colored pencils, and markers.
Gems: Gems add that wow factor for special projects.
Tip: Some students will want to go crazy with how many they add to their project. Set limits by saying something like, “What 10 gems would you like to add to your memory box?”.
Googly eyes: Googly eyes are an excellent way to break the ice with even the toughest of customers. They add levity to serious issues and can make the time you spend with them more memorable.
Scissors: You will need 8-10 kid friendly scissors. Make sure they paper worthy. Old worn out scissors from the 1980s will leave you and your students frustrated.
While we’re on the subject of scissors…make sure you have a nice pair for yourself. Using safety scissors isn’t ideal, especially if you are in a rush.
Glue: There are many types of glue and each type has a purpose. While you can use any type of glue in a pinch, it will affect the overall quality of your project.
Stick glue: Best for gluing paper onto paper (no lumps!)
White glue: Best for heavier projects – googly eyes, gems, glitter, and gluing construction paper to construction paper.
Hot glue: Hot glue is the secret to getting posters to stick to brick walls. Chances are someone in your building will already have a glue gun and some hot glue you can “borrow”.
General Office Supplies: Pencils, pens, highlighter, post-its, etc.
Storage for Your Office
File folders: Yes, tech is great…but I’m still a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to having a hard copy of EVERYTHING I need to do my job. File folders are the lifeblood behind my office organization system…student info, lesson plans, group curriculum, printable activities, etc…all backed up and ready to go in case the internet decides to quit on me.
Hanging file folders & file cabinet/box: Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something oddly satisfying about neatly filed folders…easy to see – easy to use…no lost folders or unsightly piles cluttering up your office.
Binders – I have three binders that I couldn’t function without:
The Important Information Binder – 1.5″ binder where I keep all of the school calendars, class lists, school policy, and tech info.
Child Study/Student Assistant Team/Staffing – 2.5″ binder divided by alphabetic tabs. – Keeps all meeting documentation in one spot!
Planning Binder (AKA Command Central) – 1″ binder – Caseload information – individual & group, progress monitoring, to-do list, school calendar, tentative counseling schedule
Play Therapy Items
Play-Doh – Great for self-expression and as a fidget activity during individual sessions! The name brand Play-doh is well worth the extra dollar. I’ve had the same Play-doh for years.
Nerf basketball hoop My basketball hoop is a great motivator. Students may earn up to three shots for participating in group sessions. I also use it for reluctant students -> one shot for each response or coping technique they share.
Board Games (Yard sales and thrift shops have games at a fraction of the cost!):
Caution! Books can be extremely addicting…especially if you’re a lover of books.
I’ve spent thousands of $$$ over the years on books and a good majority collect dust on my bookcase.
I’ve written about some of my favorite books on specific topics. You can check them out by clicking the links below!
Can you think of any other must-have supplies for elementary counselors? I would love to hear your suggestions or questions in the comments below!