As adults, we have all learned some of our favorite and most useful ways to decompress during a stressful situation, or after a stressful day. But for many young children, that is something that they have to learn to do. And for our students with disabilities, we often have to teach them how to regulate.
When you factor in things like sensory processing disorders, being overstimulated or understimulated, and even difficulties with communicating feelings and emotions – this can be an extremely daunting task.
One thing that has really been helpful not only in classrooms, but also at home, are using calm down kits and calm down areas (cozy corners, calm down corner, etc.).
You can see our Calm Down Kit here, but let’s walk through creating a Calm Down Corner together:
SUPPLIES FOR ANY CALM DOWN CORNER
You could take any type of box, bag, bucket, or basket to put some preferred items in for an individual student, or a group of students, to have access to whenever they need a minute or two to take a break when they feel their emotions are overwhelming them. Some simple items you could put in these kits are:
- Visuals of different calm down strategies – counting, deep breathing (in the calm down kit here)
- Chew toy or necklace
- Fidgets (i.e pop-its , spinners, squeeze stress balls)
- Small puzzle
- Stretch resistance bands
- Blank notebook or paper and writing or coloring utensils
- Sensory bottles – this could be a great activity to make with your kids using water bottles, glitter, beads, erasers, anything of that nature.
- Visual stimulators, such as a kaleidoscope or sand timers
- Books to read
- Activity books, such as word searches and dot-to-dots
- Playdoh or theraputty
- Bubble wrap
- Rubik’s Cube
- Scrap paper or tissue paper for ripping when angry
- Light up toys or flashlights
- Snow globe
- Pipe cleaners to twist and bend
- Spinning top
- Scratch and sniff stickers
- Small mirror
- Body sock
- Weighted stuffed animals
- Smelling bottles
- Scratch art doodle pad or etch-a-sketch
- Social stories about common situations that happen in the classroom
It’s also true that body socks aren’t just for the kids… AND your students will think it is hysterical if you get in a body sock next to them. Just take my word for it.
Now, of course what you put in your calm down kit all depends on the needs of the students in your classroom. There may be things that your students love that are not on the list, go ahead and put them in here! There may be things you put in a calm down kit that another student might not like, that is okay. It may also help to create small individual ones for each student to have with their preferred items (and you can color code bins to help with organization of having multiple calm down bins).
HOW TO SET UP A CALM DOWN CORNER OR CALM DOWN KIT
So you’ve got these kits, but you’re not sure where to house them or how to use them appropriately. One thing that you can do is create visual cues – create a picture that you can use for your students when you can tell they need a break or that they can use to tell you they need a break.
One thing I like to do is set up a Cozy Corner, or Calm Down Corner in my room. Take a small section of your room and add things like pillows, blankets, bean bag chairs, a timer, and these calm down kits. This gives your students the opportunity to take that break in a different area of the room where they are away from the people or things that may be distracting or overwhelming to them, but it also gives them a sense of safety in a space in your room. Here are some things you can also add to your Cozy Corner to help students calm down as needed:
- Weighted exercise balls
- Wiggle seats
- Jump rope
- Exercise or yoga movement cards
- Body sock
- Sit and Spin
- Rocking Chair
Once you’ve got that all set up, now is the time to really work with your kids using visual cues, social stories and even just practicing communicating when they need a break and how to use their calm down strategies appropriately.
If you want to use a different name than Calm Down Corner, you’ll find a bunch of other options in this blog post here.
Do you utilize a Calm Down Corner in your classroom? What is inside of your Calm Down Kit? Tell us in the comments below!