Hands-On Group Counseling Activities

group counseling activities with kids

I love task cards. You know, those cards that have discussion questions, or role plays, or what would you do situations, and skills to practice. They can be created and used for tons of topics, with most grade levels, and in all tiers of counseling (I have a post here about ways to use them in class lessons, and here about using them with pre-readers in lessons). Because they’re so versatile, they’re an easy tool to use in hands-on group counseling activities.

There’s a few ways to use them in groups that involve sitting. One is with “Pick a card!” where each student has a job (which you can combine if you don’t have the perfect number of students).

  • Fan: Fan the cards out and say “Pick a card, any card!”
  • Pick: Select a card and read it out loud.
  • Answer: Answer the question!
  • Respond: “I agree because….” or “I disagree because…”

You can also use cards alongside games – pull a card and respond before you take your turn.

Those options are great and I use them regularly. But for some groups, the students need you to add a little oomph. A little movement and a boost of engagement. Below are three ideas for doing just that!

(Any examples below that are a part of a resource I have, I’ve linked – just click the picture!)

Idea #1: Koosh Ball or Bean Bag Toss

Lay all of the cards you are using out on the floor. Have students take turns tossing a ball onto them. Whichever card the ball lands on (or is closest to) is the one they pick up and respond to. I recommend using a koosh ball or bean bag for this because they’ll plop on the card (intead of bouncing, rolling, etc.). You could also add dots or numbers (or lightning bolts) onto the cards, and add a competitive element where students are trying to get the cards with the most points! This could be done with everyone sitting on the floor in a circle around the cards, or you could be at a table and just one student at a time gets up to toss (and then brings the card back to the table).

resiliency activity for kids
self-control activity for kids

Idea #2: Binder Clip Knock Down

Many students really enjoy opportunities to feel powerful or in control (okay, so do most adults!). One way to have some fun with this in groups is by putting the cards in binder clips, setting them upright somewhere, and having students knock them down with a ball or even a crumpled-up piece of paper. Depending on the card, it could be that students knock it down first and then respond (for example, identifying when and where it’s okay vs. not okay to horseplay). Or, it could be that they respond in some way before knocking it down (for example students could practice using helpful self-talk for defeating the worry bug).

social skills activity for kids
self-talk activity for kids

Idea #3: Bury Them

My students were VERY into digging things out of my rice tray this past year. It became this super simple way to go through any card-based activity we had. Sometimes it was discussion questions or practice tasks, but we also used it for sorting activities.

locus of control activity for kids
anger activity for kids

Do you love groups but feel a little unprepared for running effective groups in elementary schools? I have a virtual, on-demand training that can help! Just click the image below for more info!

group counseling professional development

How else could you use cards like this? Have you ever made your own task cards? Comment below if you’ve got an idea to share!

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
I get to serve in a different way now
– by helping fellow counselors and

I value quality over quantity,
effective practices and resources,
and meeting the unique needs of all
our diverse learners.

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