4 Simple Counseling Activities Using Paper Chains 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Hands on activities to help students see connections

Hands-on counseling activities are a great way to engage students. Often when hands are moving, so are mouths. You can pull lots of everyday materials off your shelf and use them in counseling. Counseling activities using paper chains are a great way to discuss any topic with connections or cause and effect.

This can be how two people are connected, how our choices and consequences are connected, or how we can break certain links and make new ones. Plus, the chains will serve as a visual reminder of the concept. Hang them up in your office or make mini-ones for the students to take.

1. Choices and Consequences

Explore positive and negative choices with students by showing them how choices and consequences connect. Use stories, books, or real-life experiences to discuss someone's choice.

Start with what happened as one link. Then, attach another link representing a choice that was made. You can then attach a link at the same spot that shows an alternate choice. You can keep going down the links showing how different choices have different consequences. 

Ask questions like: How did this choice impact them? How did it impact others? Was there another choice they could make? What would have happened instead?

2. Relationships

It can be neat for students to see how they are connected to other people. You can focus on common interests, experiences, or characteristics and create chains. For example, say I have three sisters and so does someone else. We can put our links together. Then another person can get linked to one of us for a different reason, like having the same favorite animal. You can use the chains to visualize how we all have things in common. 

In a small group, you can give each student their own color slips of paper. When students have something in common, they can exchange their slips with another student for them to make their chain.

3. Thoughts- Feelings - Actions

In counseling, I'm sure you often talk to students about how their thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected. Paper chains are a great way to show this "chain reaction."

On separate slips of paper, have students write down a situation, their thought, feeling, action, and consequence. Then chain them together to show how they are connected.

Then have them look where they could break the chain. For example, they may change how they think about a situation. Explore how that would lead to different feelings, actions, and consequences. You can then add these new links to show the different paths when we change.

4. Success or Kindness Chains

Sometimes we can forget our small successes, especially in times of stress. Throughout the year, create success chains with students. Have them write down their small achievements and add them to the chain, slowly building the chain over time. Make sure they focus on small things - remembering their homework or resolving an issue with a classmate.

You could also do a kindness chain where students add a link for the kind acts they do or they experience.

Kindness Chains

Get Started Making Connections in Counseling

Paper chains are a simple and interactive way to teach students about connections in counseling. Those might be the connections with others or the relationships between their actions and outcomes. Ready to get started? Grab the Kindness activities resource or the counseling lesson on changing behavior.

Helpful Resources

Small Group Lesson

This lesson helps students understand the connection between an event and our thoughts, feelings, emotions, behaviors, and consequences. They learn that a change in any of these can break the pattern of negative behaviors. 

Kindness Activities

Kindness Activities

Teach kindness to students through quick, engaging activities. It has a kind acts board, paper chain activity, journals, thank you cards, and more. Build a culture of kindness throughout the year.

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I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

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