It’s been awhile, friends! I returned back to the wonderful world of school counseling at the end of March after a wonderful 9 weeks of baby snuggles. First up: 2nd grade and personal space.
We’d originally planned on doing a “what to do when someone says mean words to you” lesson…but then we found ourselves in the surprising but amazing position of having a cohort of kiddos that don’t (usually) have this problem! After chatting with the 2nd grade team lead, we decided to replace it with a lesson on personal space. This fit in perfectly with our friendship and social skills theme. Of course, we used Personal Space Camp (affiliate link)
Before beginning, we explained what the book was about to students. This was key with our large EL population. Without understanding Louis’ confusion about personal space vs. outer space, the book is confusing and lacks humor. We also chose to read the book in chunks with our discussion questions and activities built in. Helped a lot with the springtime squirm, if you know what I mean!
We used a ‘turn and talk’ for the students to chat about why its important to respect personal space, around the spot in the book where Louis ‘lunar lands’ on someone. After they share out, we try to hit: safety, health (sickness), and general respect. When Principal Goodkid explains that we all have different sized comfort bubbles, we brainstorm the people and situations that would fit into super close, arms’ length, and far off sized bubbles. Shout out to my students who used the terms ‘green flag person’ and ‘red flag person’; terms from our personal safety lesson!
When we read about the PSLUR (personal space line up rope) and keeping a good distance while walking in a line, we practiced by taking a little walk around the hallway. The book says an outstretched arm’s distance but that’s not always feasible so we did ‘elbows up’. Tried to get a picture…and then realized I’m not skilled enough to capture 2nd graders in movement.
At the end of the story, we asked our students if it was ever ok to enter someone’s personal space and brainstormed some of their reasons. Then came a discussion of consent; it’s never too young! We agreed that you should ask permission before entering someone’s personal space bubble and respect them if they say no. How did we practice this? With hula hoops. We are lucky enough to have a PE department that supports our work and lets us borrow their goodies for lessons. Newspapers would work for this too, though.
Half of our students stood in hula hoops while the other half milled about, asking to hug them, give them a high five, play with their hair, etc. After about 3 minutes, groups switched. I encouraged hula hoop students to say ‘no’ at least half the time so everyone could practice respecting ‘no’. We closed with a short review of what we’d talked about and if there was extra time, we talked through some specific scenarios about reading social cues to determine if we should move closer (or give the hug, sit next to, etc.) or back away.
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