Does anyone else read this wish they had a calm-down corner when they were in school? I know I do! I think there is a place for everything in the classroom, and this includes having a designated space where it is safe for students to go when they need to manage emotions. Social-emotional learning has become a staple in the classroom environment to help students navigate the many pressures of everyday life.
Why Should I have a Calm Down Corner?
Having a calm down corner does three things:
1. the designated calm down corner in your classroom makes it socially acceptable to need a space for calm, 2. teaches students when and how to handle their emotions, and 3. allows students to feel safer and more comfortable in their learning environment.
These calm-down corners create a calm environment to enhance self-awareness and regain control of feelings and emotions.
What Calm Down Corners Should NOT Be
Your calm down corner(s) should not be a place to discipline bad behavior. The entire mentality of this place is to be a safe space to handle whatever emotions are going on with any child at any point. This space is not to be a “time out” spot.
Also, I would suggest not telling a child to “go to the corner” as this indicates the context of punishment rather than a place of peace.
Things to Put in a Calm Down Corner in Classroom
Bean Bag Chair(s)
Having a comfy bean bag chair in your calm down corner is a great way to indicate the location of the calm down corner. These big chairs allow students to feel calm, secure, and comfortable. This is a safe and cozy place to spend time on those calm-down tools.
Most more minor children love stuffed animals. These furry and fluffy little toys teach children how to love and care for something else and provide a feeling of peace and comfort. I like the safari plush toy set on Amazon. With these animals, children learn that it is okay to have big feelings and that their furry friend is there to help them.
Sensory & Fidget Toys
Fidget toys are a powerful self-management tool. Many students with sensory issues or ADHD/ADD can benefit significantly from classroom fidget tools. These things are effective in helping students regulate their emotions by not feeling as anxious.
Breathing techniques or posters can be displayed in the calm down corner. These techniques can teach students ways to take deep breaths and calm down. I love this “mindful minute” poster available on Amazon. This poster tells explicitly kids to breathe, listen, see, touch, and smile. These things align perfectly with the other items on this list to place in your peace corner.
Amazon has a ton of great children’s books that a perfect to have in a calm down corner. I love the “A Little SPOT of Feelings” (set of 8) books. These books cover feelings of empathy, sadness, loneliness, belonging, worry, boredom, and more. Kids can also use this corner to take brain breaks and read these books when they feel overwhelmed in the classroom. Want a different book, here are some of our favorites that Amazon has to offer!
Headphones and Music
Sometimes kids need to tune everything else out and focus on calming sounds or soft music. You can have a small stereo or CD player (if you can still find those). My calm down corner includes an Amazon Alexa (Echo Dot) device because kids can plug in their assigned headphones and choose what they would like to listen to. Also, the Alexa app allows you to connect to the device and control what you want them to listen to.
Along with breathing techniques, yoga allows students to self-regulate their emotions through movement. Kids can practice some basic yoga poses either by reviewing some videos put onto Google slides, or, simply placing yoga posters in that corner of the room. I like these Palace Learning Yoga posters. You can display them all or you can hang up just one for your kids to focus on.
Coloring Books and Colored Pencils
An effective tool that helps students (and parents) self-regulate is coloring books. Being able to create a work of art allows students to focus on creating art rather than whatever emotions they are feeling. This is a great way to redirect negative emotion into something positive.
There is just something comforting about a comfy rug for this corner of the room. A fluffy rug can create a comfortable feeling environment for your students. There really isn’t some deep emotional reason to have one of these except for the fact that it helps to define your comfort space in the classroom.
In recent years these weighted blankets have proven to be effective tools in helping to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. In your space of bean bag chairs and fluffy rugs, maybe consider adding a weighted blanket to the space? According to Penn Medicine, the weighted blanket sends your brain into “rest” mode and allows all of the brain waves triggering the anxiety to calm down. While you do not want kids sleeping in class, it isn’t a bad thing to have one of these on hand.
Your students will love chilling out in the bean bag chair with a big fluffy pillow. Assuming you get the bag chair, have the fluffy rug, and some large pillows, you’ve created the ultimate social-emotional calm-down corner.
Final Thoughts on the Calm Down Corner
Allowing your students the opportunity to self-regulate, rather than reacting by sending students to the office is a positive thing. Including a calming corner in your classroom creates that safe space for students to handle their emotions you are allowing them an opportunity to learn important life skills.