The Bad Seed: Activities for School Counseling Classroom Guidance Lessons

Recently, a fellow counselor reached out to me on Instagram and asked if I had any activities to go along with the book, The Bad Seed that weren’t worksheets. I know this book is so popular right now, but I didn’t even have it! I asked around with some other counselor friends and came up empty, so on my next trip to Target, I just picked it up. You guys, I CRIED reading this book. Didn’t it just break your heart? There are so many of these kids walking the halls of every single school. I’m so glad I added this book to my shelf because I’ll definitely use it for years to come! Below you’ll find a couple of ideas for a The Bad Seed activity to use in your classroom guidance lessons or small group counseling sessions!

Backstory: If you don’t have the book, it’s about a seed. He’s a bad seed. He knows he’s bad. Everyone thinks he’s bad. So he acts bad. But he hasn’t always been bad. Some bad things happened before. Is your heart broken yet?  Okay, on to the activities…

Activities for The Bad Seed

Be a Watering Can

Because this book is about a seed, I think it will fit in really nicely with my Kindergarten gardening-themed unit. I use a lesson on kindness in which I show students a healthy, tall plant and a dry, droopy plant. We talk about what happens to plants that are watered daily and receive appropriate amounts of sunlight. In this analogy, we equate water and sunlight to kind words or affirmations. On the flip side, we talk about plants that are deprived of water and sunlight or receive harsh sunlight. In this case, the lack of sunlight and water or the presence of harsh sunlight represent unkind words or treatment (I don’t use the term bullying with this grade level, lest everything becomes bullying). Then, we talk about how we can be the watering can and practice making “watering can statements” to build others up.

In the book, the seed has been told that he’s bad and knows that other people think he’s bad, so he acts bad. This is a perfect opportunity to help students understand that the words we use and the way we treat other people matters. Additionally, trying to understand other people’s previous experiences helps us to show compassion toward them, even when they do something that we think is “bad.” Help your students make “watering can statements” that show empathy rather than condemnation. For example, instead of, “I can’t believe you just kicked the trash can. You’re so bad!” they could say, “It seems like you’re feeling angry. Want to talk about something?” Remind your students they can be a watering can that pours kindness into others!

Find the Good

Around Thanksgiving, I like to play The Gratitude Game as a way to get students thinking about little ways they can be grateful for unconventional things. I think this game could be easily adapted to a “find the good” activity to go along with The Bad Seed. Divide students into small groups. Task each group with coming up with something “bad” (no people, just things or situations). Each group will write the “bad” thing on the top of a sheet of paper. Then, groups will trade papers. Small groups will write as many good things they can think of about whatever the “bad” thing is on the page.

For example, if “storm” is written on the page, students might write: waters the earth, ends with a rainbows, cools off hot days, etc. This activity reminds students that no matter how bad a situation or person seem, there is always good to be found!

Do you have The Bad Seed yet? How are you using it with your students? Let me know in the comments! If you don’t have it yet, check it out with the link below! You’ll be so happy to have it on your shelf!

Happy Counseling! -Counselor Keri

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School counseling classroom guidance lesson activities to use with the book, The Bad Seed. Perfect for classroom guidance lessons or small group counseling sessions.




9 thoughts on “The Bad Seed: Activities for School Counseling Classroom Guidance Lessons

  1. This book is my current FAVORITE! I used it in my class lessons last week! We did a circle and some students wanted to share some bad/scary things that had happened to them like the seed. We talked about how we can still choose our attitudes and actions even when bad things happen to us. It was also a great discussion starter for building empathy about why people sometimes act the way they do. I also used the book with some 6th graders since we have been learning about ACES and our how our brains respond to trauma. <3

  2. I can’t wait to share The bad Seed with my class. Any other books you can recommend for a social skills group? We are working on all areas of social skills.

    1. Hey Lizzie! I have a whole set that I’m working on more activities to share. But a few favorites are Your Words and Your Heart, Even Super Heroes Have Bad Days, and Blue Whale Blues! And of course anything by Julia Cook or Trudy Ludwig.

      1. Thank you! We read the Bad Seed Today and my kids loved it! Next week, we are going to actually take care of plants. watering them with different liquids and see which one responds the best.

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