Are you having elevated behaviors in your classroom and want to support the emotional well being of your students? Or maybe you simply want to learn more about what calm down corners are and why they are effective? Well this is the post for you! I am going to teach you all about the what, why, and how. By the time you’re done reading, you’re going to be ready to dive into calm down corners to support your little learners and ALL of their big feelings.
What is it?
Calm Down Corners, Cool Down Spots, or any other name you’ve heard, is essentially a simple, safe space for students to express and regulate their feelings. It is a spot in your classroom where students can go when they are having difficulty coping with emotions and need some space to take a break. It is not used as a punishment or timeout area for students. This isn’t a space they should ever be “sent to”. Instead, students are taught that this space is designed for when THEY feel the need to use it.
Why is it important?
These spaces are important for so many reasons! They help teach emotional regulation skills, build self awareness, and provide a safe space for big feelings. Ultimately, it is a spot to help students become ready to learn, which is where we want all students to be. Learn more about what that means HERE!
Now more than ever, these tiny hearts and minds are going through a lot and sometimes those feelings can easily become overwhelming. Having a designated relaxing area to simply calm down can help turn a student’s day around in just a few minutes.
Choose Your Space
It’s time to get creative! Let’s think about where to design your space. It doesn’t have to be a large space and it can be anywhere you’d like in your classroom. I always love finding a cozy spot under some counter space that is perfect for students to crawl into. Other spaces include a corner in your classroom, a designated desk, or even a tent.
Keep in mind that when choosing your space, make sure that it is not the same place as a timeout area or a space that interferes with other areas. For example, I would not want my calm down spot near our whole group area, small group table, or any other area where students may get distracted.
Make it Cozy
Once you’ve picked a spot, the next task is to make it cozy! This can be achieved pretty quickly and cheaply- a simple rug or pillow work wonders. The goal is to create a welcoming space to help students feel comfortable while coping with their feelings. Adding visuals, books, and sensory tools can also help make this space even more efficient for students.
Add Some Tools
The tools in the space are really going to help support students and their feelings. Below is a list of great tools to add for students!
- Sensory Bottle
- Breathing Exercises
- Calming Choices
- Feelings Journal
- Social Story
- Visuals for identifying feelings, signs of tensions, coping exercises, etc.
Teach Them How
Once your spot is designated and designed, half the battle is done. The important part now is teaching students how to effectively use this important space. When teaching students how to use this space, it is important to show students what it is, what’s in it, and how to properly use the materials included.
We also need to ensure students understand all the feelings they have. You can learn more about teaching emotions HERE! Grab this fun emotions slider craft for FREE!
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This is when I love bringing out the looks like/sounds like strategy for students. We explicitly walk through what it looks and sounds like when we’re using the space and all the tools in it. We also talk about when we need this space and what to do when issues arise, such as what to do if someone is in the space and I need it. Using books to introduce the calming corner can really help support students’ understanding of how and why we have this space. Some of my favorite books to use to introduce this space are: *affiliate links included*
This entire set is a great set for little learners. Another favorite out of here is Mouse Says Sorry!
This is a great time to set and discuss rules for the space so students know exactly what to expect. Take a look at some of the great teacher tools in the Ultimate Calm Down Kit.
When is it Needed?
Just like teaching students the HOW to use the space, it is equally important to teach them WHEN they need it. This is a great time to have conversations, model, and have practice scenarios for when it’s a good time to take some time in our spot. The more experience students have, the better equipped they will be in learning WHEN they need the space and HOW to regulate their emotions when they’re in it.
This is another time where those great books I mentioned will help support them. Reading Howard B., is the perfect intro for students to understanding our signs of tensions anchor chart and how to recognize when our body needs to calm down. It is also a great reference poster for students as they get more comfortable going to the space. Set your students up for success and watch your classroom thrive!
I hope you enjoyed learning about how to set up your own calming space for your students. I promise that once you dive in, you WON’T go back. It really does work wonders for not only your students, but also your entire classroom community. If you love the ultimate calm down kit, you’ll also love the other hands on, engaging social emotional learning activities found below.
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