A School Counselor Lunch Bunch Linky Party

I’ve had several requests from readers over the past few weeks to talk about Lunch Bunch, and while I have had very good intentions to post more information, this Linky Party hosted by Scrapbook Of A School Counselor Blog by Tabitha, has given me the push I need to get this done.

So here goes. . .

What is a Lunch Bunch?
For me, Lunch Bunch is an informal meeting time with students where we accomplish some very formal and targeted goals.  What does this mean?  I hand out very few personal invitations and have a program where anyone who wants to attend can attend.  There are some students that I really want to come, so those are my students who receive invitations, all others come on their own.   Lunch Bunch for me also runs all year long.  Each week, I have lessons on kindness, friendship, empathy, leadership, and goal setting.  I rotate through these themes throughout the year.  Lunch Bunch is a time for students to get together, and although mine are not mandatory or run on a specified number of meetings, my students all seem to find their way to my office each week.  Occasionally a student will say they forgot, or miss because they have to meet with a teacher, but it always amazes me how they all come faithfully each week.  We can also pack the room with about 20 kiddos squished around my table.

What do you do with the kids that attend?
All kinds of things.  Each Lunch Bunch has several main components:  lunch, talking, an activity, sharing, and candy (ok, I have a pretty good bribe for coming, but as one of my 7th grade Lunch Buddies told me this week, “Mrs. M, I’d come even without the candy!”) Last year we made friendship bracelets, art projects and washer necklaces, worked on our STOP sign project, played hopscotch, Bingo, cards, story cubes, story stones, and answered a lot of icebreaker questions, watched videos, made videos, and talked-a lot.  We have 30 minutes and we are busy.

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How are you organizing your lunches?
This week starts our Lunch Bunch.  School started last week, and I needed that first week to adjust schedules and do other beginning of the school year things.  This week, we will start with introductions, do an icebreaker game, and go over rules.  For the 5th graders who are new to Middle School this year, we will recruit this week.  I will have my 6th graders help with this, as they will be in study hall during the time the 5th graders are eating.  

A typical LB session looks as follows:
5 minutes– welcome students and get settled
10 minutes–talk and eat and pass candy dish. We review what we did last week, talk about our week, and practice our listening skills.
5 minutes–introduce the lesson
9 minutes–activity
1 minute–wrap up and return lunch trays to cafeteria
Because we have such a limited amount of time, many of our activities take more than one Lunch to complete, unless it is a game.  
Anything else we should know about your Lunch Bunches?
LB can be a powerful way to connect with kids.  Games and crafts are exciting and get kids talking.  You never know what they are going to say and you need to be prepared for that.  For instance, if one student starts to share maybe a little too much for the rest of your group, you need to be able to redirect the conversation while validating what that one kiddo wants to share with you.  A smile, and a simple, “wow, I am really interested in hearing more about that, but I’d like for you to tell me after Lunch Bunch is over so we have more time to talk” can save the conversation from going in a different direction than what you planned for.  

With Lunch Bunch, I have seen many great friendships form, students find confidence they did not know they had, smiles blossom, and kindness being shared.  My kids love Lunch Bunch and so do I.  I love it because of them, and while I can sometimes stress about finding a new project or idea to do with them, it is all worth it.

Do you have more questions about Lunch Bunch, or do you run Lunch Bunch and have a great lesson you want to share?  Follow the conversation by one of the ways below:

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