Teaching Kelso’s Choices

Teaching Kelso's Choice lesson plans

Kelso’s Choice are the best. They provide a common language (and visual) to use throughout the school in regards to “small problems” and conflict. A few years ago, my admin agreed to buy enough posters for every classroom and major common area (cafeteria, gym, etc.) to have one and I used some of my counseling budget to get a DVD (I picked the booster one because the scenarios seemed to be a better match to my school). Pricey, but worth it. It was also great to have the real posters because…I admit…I once handmade my own versions of them and they were pretty rough looking.


Without the curriculum though, I wasn’t sure how exactly to teach Kelso’s Choices. And then all the TVs and DVD players were removed from classrooms, and all faculty got brand new laptops….that didn’t have CD-Rom drives in them…meaning I lost the ability to play the DVD. I tried to find a simple way to get it onto a flash drive, but I haven’t succeeded in that yet. For a couple years, I could find some scenes from the DVDs on YouTube. Much to my disappointment, they were removed. That said, I think there’s still some helpful information in this post about teaching conflict resolution strategies!

Though I know tons of counselors use Kelso’s Choices, I didn’t quite find what I was looking for when I did some googling to see how others were teaching this. We also don’t usually have more than 1 or 2 lessons to tackle this. This is a brief breakdown of some things we do each year in the various grade levels (and here’s a post about the changes I’ve made with 3rd and 4th grade since I originally posted this):

  • In K and 1st, we bought a cheap stuffed frog from Amazon. We bring him to the room, introduce him, and explain that he’s going to help us teach what to do when we have small problems. Usually we do this lesson after we’ve taught or reviewed tattling vs. telling so they have some context.


Inexpensive stuffed frog used when teaching Kelso's Choice
  • In 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, we’re able to ask “Remember when we learned last year how to solve small problems? It has to do with a green frog…” and they almost always remember! This is in part due to them seeing the poster everywhere and in part due to counselors (and sometimes teachers) asking “Have you tried Kelso’s Choices yet?”


  • For most grade levels, we showed the skits (originally on YouTube but those have been taken down, so the only option now is purchasing from the Kelso’s Choices site). We stop after nearly every scenario to ask some questions. Here are the clips and some of the questions we ask:


  • To practice ignore in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, I “bother” each table group of students while they practice ignoring me. After each, I reinforce how they ignored with their eyes, mouth, and bodies. The kids love watching me act poorly and it provides a way for them to practice the skill without asking other kids to act poorly (which my students at least aren’t usually able to handle). These are the scenarios I use:
-Students are eating lunch and another student comes up and says “Your food looks so disgusting. That’s gross. Ugh.”
-Students are working and another student sits down and starts humming a song.
-Students are playing at recess and another student says “That game is stupid. Only babies play this.”
-Students are lining up at the door and another student cuts in line in front of all of them.
-Students are working and another student says “Your answers are dumb. You should go back to kindergarten.”
  • In 3rd grade as the first part of our mini-unit on conflict de-escalation, I projected the non-verbal Kelso’s Choices, gave each group a die, and had them take turns identifying when they could use the different choices.
Kelso's Choice non-verbal activity using die


  • We send home a letter to the parents with a picture of the wheel and explaining that at school, we  expect students to use Kelso’s Choices when solving small problems with peers.


Kelso's Choice Parent Letter
  • Often times (depending on need), the younger grades get separate lessons on teamwork that focuses sharing and taking turns.


  • One year, we created foldables after learning briefly about the choices. Here’s a pic of the model my awesome intern at the time made.
Examples of Kelso's Choice foldables
  • “Talk it Out” is MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Other schools call them “I-Messages”. We either incorporate this as a significant component in our Kelso lessons OR we do an entire lesson on this.


  • For 3rd and 4th grade, I send the teachers a PPT to have them do Four Corners as a Morning Meeting activity. This asks students to identify, by moving to a certain corner of the room, which of the most popular Kelso’s Choices they would use given different conflict scenarios.

2 Responses

  1. It might have been awhile since this was originally posted, but I do not see the 2 YouTube video links for the videos to model the choices and questions asked. Are these still available somewhere?

    1. Hello! Unfortunately, no. They were removed from YouTube a few years ago. I think the only way to access the skits now is through purchasing them from Kelso’s Choices.

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
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