After a long, hot, and buggy summer here in Nashville, we always welcome the fall season with open arms. Along with the changing season and new school year comes a desire for fresh, new resources to use in practice with our students. I found that no matter the time of year, incorporating a seasonal flair into my counseling sessions and classroom lessons often led to increased student engagement. Just like me, my students were excited about the fall season and loved when I used autumn-themed stories, games, and activities with them. I’d like to share with you some of my fall-themed favorites, and be sure not to miss the two freebies included in this post!
Fall-Themed Stories for Counseling and SEL
“The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin” by Joe Troiano
My favorite fall-themed story for SEL and counseling lessons is called “The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin” by Joe Troiano. It tells the story of Spookley who is the only pumpkin in his patch that is square instead of round. He is teased for being different and feels sad that he is unable to roll around like the other pumpkins. But one day, a big storm comes that is so strong that it causes all of the round pumpkins to fly around and breaks a hole in the fence. Round pumpkins start falling through the hole into the bay, until Spookley saves the day by using his square shape to his advantage and sitting in front of the hole to block it. Spookley is a hero who saves the farmer’s pumpkins, and in his honor, the farmer plants a whole new patch of pumpkins of all different shapes and colors. People come from miles around to visit the square, triangular, and round pumpkins and to pick a special and unique pumpkin of their own.
This story is perfect for counseling sessions and classroom lessons to teach about the beauty in diversity, self-esteem, kindness, courage, bullying prevention…the list goes on! You can watch a video of this story below and click on the book cover above to learn more and purchase your own copy on my Amazon Affiliate link!
“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson
“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson is a sweet story about a fox who feels very, very worried when the leaves on his favorite tree turn brown. He worries that his tree is sick and does everything he can to help it feel better. He tries attaching green leaves to the branches and collecting all of its leaves as they fly through the sky, but sadly he is not able to save his special tree. Fletcher saved the very last leaf that fell from his tree and brought it back to his den to rest. All night he thought of his beloved tree, until he awoke at dawn to a wonderous surprise. Fletcher’s special tree was more beautiful than ever – it had grown hundreds of shiny icicles over night! He was so proud of his tree and the beautiful creation it had become that his sad, worried feelings flew away as quickly as the tree’s leaves had before.
This story would be great for individual, small group, and classroom counseling sessions to support students who are experiencing worry, anxiety, loss, or a transition/change of some kind. The story’s beautiful message can help students see that there is always joy to be found, even in challenging or sad circumstances. Just like the tree, even though something may seem difficult or worrisome at first, in time, it may turn into something special and amazing (and teach us a powerful lesson along the way). You can watch a video of this story below and click on the book cover above to learn more and purchase your own copy on my Amazon Affiliate link!
Fall-Themed Counseling & SEL Activities
As I said before, adding a little seasonal touch can really help with student buy-in and engagement, and make lessons a little more exciting for us educators, too! I’d love to share three fall-themed counseling and SEL games that I have created with you. All of them are both printable for in-person learning and digital for distance learning so you are covered no matter what school looks like for you this year!
This “Pumpkin Patch Feelings Game” was my all-time favorite to use in the fall in my individual and small group counseling sessions as well as in my classroom lessons. It makes for a great center activity, too! It is really simple to play and really helps students work on feelings identification and social skills. To play, students read the fall-themed scenario and imagine how they would feel. Then, they drag (or bring) 1 or 2 pumpkin emojis to the wagon that express how they would feel in that situation.
And sometimes it is best to just keep it simple…and seasonal, of course! As busy educators, it is so helpful to have some go-to, low-prep activities ready that we can grab any time to use with our students. This set of 7 Fall Feelings & Coping Skills Worksheets helps students explore 7 emotions (happy, sad, angry, scared, nervous, embarrassed, and excited) and reflect on when they have felt this way and what they can do to cope with this feeling. The black/white pages are fun for students to color and the digital version is so easy to use on any device. They make for a simple, meaningful, and festive counseling tool or whole group exercise!
And of course let’s not forget Thanksgiving – the easiest holiday of the year for incorporating SEL! Gratitude and kindness are important values to express all year long, but especially during November and the Thanksgiving season! I loved teaching my students about the meaning of Thanksgiving, especially since most of them were new Americans whose families hadn’t celebrated the holiday before. Classic Thanksgiving activities such as decorating grateful turkeys are always fun, but my favorite Thanksgiving lesson is to create Gobble Grams. Gobble Grams are little kindness notes that students, parents, and teachers can send to each other to boost morale and spread a spirit of love and gratitude around your school community. Schools have used them as fundraisers, as team building exercises among faculty, to build classroom community, and more. Just a simple message of gratitude can really go a long way!
Fall-Themed Feelings Poster FREEBIES
Another fun and simple way to incorporate seasonal activities into your counseling practice is to use themed feelings posters. Feeling posters are one of my favorite resources to use with students to help them identify and express their emotions, and are especially helpful to use with students who are more hesitant to share. While traditional feelings posters are great, fun themes like pumpkins and turkeys sure make them a little more fun and engaging for students!
This Pumpkin Feelings Poster and Turkey Feelings Poster are both FREE downloads in my TpT Store and are included in my Free Resource Library (if you haven’t already, join my mailing list which will give you access to all of my freebies!). You can grab them by clicking on each image below!
I hope that these fall ideas and resources are helpful to you and your practice! What are your favorite ways to incorporate seasonal activities in your work with students? Please comment below, I would love to hear from you!