*Updated with new apps- September 2023
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written By: Amy Fuchs
Why does my classroom need a “calm down” area?
My students don’t seem upset…
It is a good idea for all classrooms to have a designated “calm down” area, after all, everyone gets upset sometimes! There are lots of ways to get creative when making a calm down area. It can be a corner with comfy cushions or flexible seating, a study carrel (these create a sense of privacy and make a great place to store the student’s choices for calm down tools), or even use a partially covered table to create a simple “tent-like” area. The key is to make the area in a part of the room that is not the center of attention and is relatively quieter than the other areas of the room, so that the child can take a break in a safe setting.
Low-tech tools for calm-down areas:
Therapy putty or dough
Magna Doodle or crayons & paper
Clothes pins or plastic tweezers with small items or beads to pick up
The kind of tools you choose for your area will depend upon what kind of seating you have (cushions and therapy dough might not be a good combination) and the temperament/ behaviors of the students you have (you don’t want to give a heavy Magna Doodle to a child who throws things when he/she is upset).
High-tech tools for calm-down areas: Did you know there are apps that are specifically meant to teach children self-calming strategies? First of all, if you are using iPads or any kind of tablets in the classroom, they should have durable cases on them. This prevents accidental breaking and makes them good options to use for certain students as calm-down tools. Anytime you introduce a new app to your students, it is a good idea to keep these things in mind:
- Make sure you are familiar with how the app works before showing introducing to the student.
- Frustration impedes learning, so it is best to introduce the app when they are relaxed.
- Explain to them that they can use the app in the calm down spot. You could say something like, “When you feel angry/frustrated/mad, you can sit here”, or similar words dependent upon their age and/or cognitive level.
- Once you have determined which app works best for them, try reminding them to use it when they are frustrated and need to calm down or when they are having trouble focusing and need to “reset”.
Let’s explore some of the apps that are appropriate for the classroom…
Preschool/ Early Elementary
Upper Elementary/ Junior High Students
High School/ Adults
If you are interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.