Do you use a 'calming kit' or 'calming caddy' in your classroom? Or maybe a 'calming corner'? I teach in an inclusive 4th/5th grade classroom and I first started using these tools for particular students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, but they've come in handy for many students in the general education population as well! Front-loading explicit instruction early in the year about recognizing and managing emotions will save you a ton of time and stress later in the year. Teaching students to be in control of their own emotions is a skill they will need throughout their entire life, and having a few tools handy in the classroom helps them develop this essential skill.
I was at Target today browsing the Dollar Spot and noticed a lot of items that would make a great 'calming caddy' for students who need to calm down in the classroom. I keep mine in the corner of the room tucked away, near a carpeted area with pillows for students who need a break.
What I would add to this:
These Dollar Spot items are a good start, but I would probably add a few more things to appeal to the senses. Something that can be scented with calming essential oils (lavender and eucalyptus are great) such as playdough or Theraputty would be very calming for many students. I also like to include a therapeutic brush which I have found to be calming for many of my students. For students who are sensitive to sound, I include a pair of noise canceling headphones. Sometimes kids just need a break from the sensory overload that school often gives them! If you have access to an old iPod or even a Discman (!) that you can pre-load with some calming music or guided meditations, that would be even better! I also add some visuals that I have created to guide students through the calming process. I laminate them and put them in a binder that I keep next to the caddy, along with a dry erase marker. You can download them for FREE at the bottom of this post!
Calming Caddy Must-Do's:
With any classroom strategy or tool comes the need for some explicit teaching at the beginning. Discuss the purpose and expectations of the calming kit to your students -- these items are tools not toys. This may look different from classroom to classroom. You may want your whole class to have access to this, or just a few students. If the latter is true, be sure to create a plan for how to discuss it with these students and the rest of the class. Clearly model to your students how to use the items in the kit and the consequences for misusing the items. The last thing you want is Theraputty getting smeared all over the carpet and walls by a student in a fit of rage. You'll want to establish, model, and practice clear calming kit routines, such as how to signal a need to access the calming kit, how to take out and put away the materials, and volume and time expectations. Again, this will look different from classroom to classroom. Because I teach in a classroom with 30 students, I set the expectation of a whisper volume and 5 minutes maximum with the calming kit (add a dollar store timer to the kit)!
How do you help students learn to self-calm in your classroom? What else would you add to this kit? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!