After a long, hot, and buggy summer here in Nashville, we welcome the fall season with open arms. Y’all know that I LOVE incorporating a seasonal flair into my counseling sessions and classroom lessons, and find that it leads to increased student engagement, buy-in, and fun! Just like us, our students are excited about the fall season and love when we 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 freebies included in this post! 🙂
Fall-Themed Stories for Counseling and SEL
If y’all know me, you know that my favorite way to open counseling lessons is with a story. Two of my favorite fall-themed stories are “The Legend of Spookely the Square Pumpkin” and “Fletcher and the Falling Leaves.” Let me tell you more about them below!
“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 (Amazon Affiliate Link). 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.
I absolutely love how what made Spookely different (and sadly a victim of bullying), was the very same quality that made him a hero! This story is so relatable for children and would be perfect for teaching about the beauty in diversity, self-esteem, kindness, courage, and bullying prevention. A movie is available of the story too that would be a fun reward or fall party activity for students!
“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson
“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves” by Julia Rawlinson (Amazon Affiliate Link) 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 wondrous 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).
Fall-Themed Feelings Check-Ins
A simple but effective way to incorporate the season into counseling sessions is with fall-themed feelings check-ins. I love to use feelings charts in counseling sessions, minute meetings, and even as an icebreaker/opening activity in classroom lessons. They give students the chance to identify and express their emotions, and help me get a read on how my students are feeling and coping today.
My favorite Fall Feelings Check-In is interactive and asks students to place cute leaf emojis on the tree that represent how they are feeling today. I like to print and laminate the color version, then place a few hook-and-loop fastener dots on the tree. Students attach the leaves to the dots on the tree to express their emotions, and the activity can be used again and again!
Or, if you prefer a spookier Halloween-themed feelings check-in, this Build a Feelings Frankenstein activity is a hit! Students can choose the face that expresses how they’re feeling today and design their own monster!
And for an even simpler fall feelings check-in, I like to use this Pumpkin Feelings Chart and Thanksgiving Feelings Chart (both freebies in my TpT store!) They’re great to use in session with students and to post on your door for students to reflect on as they pass by your office!
Fall-Themed Counseling & SEL Activities
As I said before, I love adding a seasonal touch to my lessons to increase student buy-in and engagement, and make lessons a little more exciting for us educators, too! I’ll share with you my favorite fall-themed counseling and SEL activities, that are all available in both printable and digital versions!
What’s not to love about an adorable seasonal craft? This Fall Feelings and Coping Skills activity is my newest seasonal resource, and teaches students to identify 8 emotions (happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, nervous, proud, excited) and practice 3 coping strategies to manage each feeling. The lesson offers practical skills that students can try right away to help them cope with and stay in control of their emotions. The fall feelings craft that lets students explore all 8 emotions is the perfect way to close the lesson, and decorate the hallway or a bulletin board! A Halloween version of the lesson is available too, if you prefer that!
Another favorite fall-themed activity is my “Pumpkin Patch Feelings Game.” It’s great for individual and small group counseling, centers, and lessons! It is really simple to play and helps students work on feelings identification and social skills. To play, students read fall-themed scenarios 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. You can use either the digital or the printable version, whichever works best for you!
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. 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 throughout 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 (especially in hard times like we have had lately!)
I hope that these fall ideas and resources are helpful to you and your practice! What are your favorite fall stories and activities to use with your students? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you!