As teachers and counselors, it is important to teach students productive and healthy ways to deal with emotions such as anger, sadness or frustration. By teaching students different tools they can use to deal with these emotions in a healthy way, we are helping the individual student and eliminating a potential disruption to the learning environment. The first step in doing this is being proactive and ready for a child who needs some additional help calming down within the classroom. When doing this, you need to create an area within the classroom to “house” these tools and strategies and give it a name such as “Cool Down Spot”, “Cool Down Corner”, “Cool Down Cushion”. The purpose of this area is preventative, as a place where a student can voluntarily go when they identify signs of frustration before hitting the point of no return.
Tools for your Cool Down Area
2. Crayons and paper-Many children are calmed by being able to draw and reflect through art. If you have children who cannot write yet, you can have them draw how they feel.
3.Feelings cube-I actually came across this as I was cleaning out my office and thought it would be a great addition to a cool down area. Emotions are displayed on all sides and students can use it to identify how they are feeling. I wish I knew where I originally got it, but you could create one yourself.
4. Sand timer-This allows a time to be set for being on the cushion. Depending on the situation, time can be extended since some students may require a longer amount of time to calm down.
5. Stress ball or squishy ball-This allows students to “squeeze” out their anger. Playdough might be another option.
6. Cue cards-These cards would have different strategies to use in order to calm down. Some strategies could be count to ten or take a deep breath. It is important that we teach students different strategies to use in order to cool down. Check out these FREE self control cue cards as they would also be a good inclusion to your kit.
7. Small stuffed animal or plush toy-For younger grades, this gives students a sense of comfort and something to hold.
8. CD player-Allow students to listen to classical music or other soothing music.
9. Bubbles-This allows students to blow out anger or negative feelings.
10. Bottle of Water-Drinking water is a strategy that reduces tension and can calm a student down.
11. A basket, crate, or bucket to store all the items.
In order for this strategy to work, students must be taught when and how to use the cool down cushion. It is also important for students to know it is not a punishment or discipline practice, rather a place to regain their emotions and calm down. As a counselor, you can teach mini-lessons in classrooms that are interested in implementing this strategy.
You can get a free copy of a “Cool Down Cushion” sign here which can be placed on the wall where your Cool Down Spot will be kept. A free copy of Self Control Cue Cards to include in your kit is available here. You can get the complete set of cue cards with 12 cool down strategies, water bottle label, directions, and a mini-lesson here.