I posted an graphic of quiet breathing strategies that you can use in the classroom and in the post I mentioned that we are adding calming corner kits in every room. Well, that came back to me with a million questions on what we included in our kits! So, here you go, list below and image as well. Most of what we purchased was on Amazon. Most was relatively cheap. The Hoberman Spheres, or breathing balls, were probably the more expensive of the items, but they are very popular with students and teachers. Make sure you buy bins large enough to hold your items!
Our school calming corner starter kit included a bin and lid, a packet of breathing and calming strategies we created, a Hoberman Sphere, squishies, a 5 minute sand timer, a sensory timer, a glitter pouch, a stringy ball, a puffer ball, a DIY sand stress balls, a DIY sensory bottles, and a pinwheel. We made the DIY items together in a staff meeting. Other items that can be included are stretchy strings, fidget balls, fidget snakes, and stuffed animals.
Other items are very flexible for the classroom and teacher including seating, reflections and note paper for the student to complete as optional notes to the teacher, and picture books. We have some ideas on next steps including and rotating picture books that are focused on social-emotional well-being. Thank you Ashland teachers Mrs. Ryba, Mrs. Leclercq, and Mr. Hughes for helping us get these items set up and out to our staff.
Tips for implementation – Big shout out to our friends at Montclair Elementary School for coming over and giving us advice for implementing this support. Some tips they recommended and ones we have seen to be effective are below.
- Teach students how to use each item correctly.
- Have all students try out the area during the 1st week.
- Use clear and consistent time limits.
- Do not use for punishment or as a consequence.
- Do not use during recess unless used for this purpose.
- Let your students add items & own the space.
- Help this be available for all students.
- Rotate, repurpose, and DIY items in bins.
We had some teachers pilot this last school year (thanks Mrs. Grant, Ms. Crawford, and others!) and then we spent a couple of staff meetings learning more and creating our kits. We developed expectations for usage with a deadline to implement it fully for all students and classrooms. We also are using Flipgrid to have students record and showcase their calming corners in their rooms.
We decided to have some things tight, like the expectations above, but other things loose, like how the teachers decide to name their area, decorate it, and add items to their kits.
Of course age level and space in your classroom are two huge factors for implementing this. Just don’t be afraid to get started and let this evolve into something really special in your room. This space is not really an intervention that is going to target specific groups of students. It’s more of a general support that is always available. There are many students who do not exhibit intense negative behaviors but are still dealing with serious anxiety and social-emotional issues.
Last tip – like any other strategy, the more you make this into something special and inviting, the more your students will appreciate it, care for it, and use it appropriately. It’s absolutely amazing to see the passion of great teachers directly influence their students’ behaviors.