I really wanted our program to be a positive one, focusing on recognizing the positive that students were doing, and teaching appropriate coping skills. Teaching 400+ kiddos coping skills is no joke though. We had lots of assemblies to celebrate their work and teach them some, but we wanted something for them to be using everyday.
Throughout the few years teaching kids, I began to collect lots of Calming Down Tools that I kept in my office. They were things from the dollar bin at target, some I ordered online, and some we had crafted in group. Throughout the years, I began to notice that my supply quickly dissipated because I was always giving them out to teachers and kiddos in need.
I was happy to do it, and found it was easy to find lots of ideas for different "kit" ideas through Pinterest and Google. I started to notice, however, that after a few months of having these boxes in the classroom, that students other than my own were utilizing them just as much.
I had an idea to make a calming box for each classroom, but quickly realized this was a pretty large expense. Luckily, I applied and was approved for a grant to create one for every classroom. Soon, I had turned the conference room into this:
After assembling each of the boxes, I handed them out to teachers and explained what they were. At a school climate assembly, I introduced them to the kiddos and had students demonstrate how to use each one. I'm happy with the end result! Even if some of the teachers might not buy into it, I like that all of my students have the opportunity to practice appropriate coping skills any time. I made sure to make one for not only the classroom teachers, but specialists (everyone fro the reading teacher to the music teacher), got one.
So, what makes a calming down box? I think just a wide variety of tools is helpful, but here is what I included in mine:
- A 2-minute sand timer: I figured 2 minutes was an appropriate time to spend in the calming down spot.
- Klixx fidget: I love these things. They are my go-to "fidget item"!
- Earth Stress Ball & A Puffer Squeeze Ball: Kids LOVE the puffer ones. I replace them regularly because they get used so much!
- Plastic Pinwheels: These help kids to practice their deep breathing for calming down
- A piece of paper and pencil or crayons for students to "draw it out"
- A laminated sheet that gives a quick overview of all of the tools (see my free one here)
- I put everything together in these plastic shoeboxes.
The process of planning these out and putting them together took months, but I'm happy that each room in the school has one to use now and my kiddos can practice their coping skills all day long!
What do you have in your calming down toolkit?