This is my second year teaching second grade, and I couldn’t be happier with my job. However, everyone has off days from time to time. For young children, an off day can seem particularly bad. To help students navigate through some tough times, I created a calm down bin (with some help from our wonderful guidance counselor.)
The items that I placed in the bin fall into three categories: distracters, stress relievers, and visuals. In addition, I placed a timer and this sheet for directions and other calming activities.
The deep breaths, stretching, counting, and happy thoughts were suggestions from our guidance counselor. Students practiced these and now know when they may be the best strategies based on how they are feeling.
I use a silent timer so the other students will not be distracted. So far, no one has abused this. The one in my classroom is very similar to this one.
When I was deciding what to place in the bin I wanted to address two issues. First, there are times when students are very sensitive and tend to react strongly in different situations. In these cases, I wanted to make sure students had something to take their minds off what was bothering them.
The liquid motion bubbler is the perfect distraction. I even had a student tell me that watching to see which color would “win” helped take his mind off of what was bothering him.
I added the Where’s Waldo book to keep the student’s focused on something other than what was bothering them.
The second issue I wanted to address is when students need to go to the calm down bin because they are stressed or angry. In these cases, I wanted to make sure students had a safe outlet to relieve their stress. I included fidgets to helps with this.
The therapy putty is a gift from my guidance counselor. I found something similar on Amazon here. These stress balls are my favorite item in the bin. I admit to using on an occasion or two. The stretchy bands are also great. Students can pull, twist and turn them to relieve their stress.
The final thing that I included are some visuals from the guidance counselor.
These charts are great for students to identify how they are feeling and make decisions on how to improve their mood.
When I first introduced the Calm Down Bin to my class, students were dying to play with the items. I did allow for some time during the first week for students to investigate and try out the items. For about two weeks, I had students ask me to go there fairly regularly. However, this greatly diminished once the novelty wore off.
(You can download the sign and directions from my bin here.)
If you have a calm down bin, center, or corner, I would love to hear your ideas for what to include.