How (and WHY) to Choose a Better Calm Down Corner Name


Once you’ve decided on a social story and other visual supports to include in your classroom calming space, it’s important to think about what you’re going to call it!  In this post, I’m going to share some reasons why you should rethink your calm down corner name.  I’ll also share some tips for choosing an effective name for your classroom calming area.

The Problem with “Calm Down Corner” Names

Have you ever calmed down when someone told you to?  Or are you more like me and that just makes you more upset? That is the heart of the issue when it comes to naming your classroom cool-down area a “Calm Down Corner” or something similar. 

When one of your students is escalated, going to a calm down area is going to feel punitive and will do little to remedy the situation. In fact, sending an upset kid to the “calm down corner” is just like sending them to timeout. It likely isn't going to help anyone calm down.

A calm down corner with visual supports

How to Choose an Effective Calm Down Corner Name

1. Keep It Positive

The first, and most important, thing to consider when naming your classroom calming area is whether or not that name elicits a positive emotion.  Even though the state of being calm is a positive thing, think about times when students actually hear the word calm being used.  It’s usually when an adult is growing frustrated with them and asking (or telling) them to calm down. Students are already escalated in the moments when they hear this word, so they often associate it with a negative experience.

You might decide to use a word like “cozy” instead of calm.  You can’t help but smile a little bit when you hear and say the word “cozy.”

2. Make It a Destination

Instead of using an adjective to describe this particular spot in your classroom, turn it into a destination!  I love to call the calming space “Hawaii” in my classroom. Most children are familiar with this being a vacation destination.  Plus, it’s a beautiful, calming space that elicits positive emotions.  

Using the name of a destination can make your calm down corner truly feel like the break that it’s intended to be.  It’s less likely to feel like a timeout when students are being encouraged to go visit Hawaii, Australia, or Alaska!

Calm down corner visuals for a calming space called Hawaii

3. Use an Inclusive Name

If you’d rather not use a destination as your calm down corner name, be sure to make the name inclusive for all of your students.  Going back to the “calm down corner” name, there are going to be students who will feel like they never need to use that space.  They have no trouble staying outwardly calm.  They are never escalated to the point of feeling out of control.  However, these students would likely still benefit from a visit to this space at some point.  

Whether they’re experiencing a small conflict with a student in their table group or difficulty focusing on their work, most students will have moments when it would be helpful for them to step away for a moment.  However, they might feel weird asking to go to the “Calm Down Corner” when they are already outwardly “calm.” Renaming this space will be very helpful for these students.

4. Consider Your Behavior Management System

If you use a behavior management system or emotional regulation program in your classroom, you might keep it in mind when you are naming your calming area.  For example, if you use the Zones of Regulation program, you might decide to name this space the “green corner” because it can help your students feel ready to learn. This area will help students regardless of whether they were in blue, yellow, or red zones prior to their visit.

However, if you want to incorporate your calming area with your classroom self-regulation program, be sure the name keeps the space positive and not punitive.  Some students who struggle with self-regulation might view the calming space in a negative light if it corresponds too closely with your program.  This is when destinations can be helpful! For example, you might name your corner “Ireland” because it’s the land of all things green. It doesn’t have to be a direct reference to your self-regulation program to be effective!

A calm down corner reflection sheet

5. Make It Easy to Say

One of the reasons why I love to call a calming corner “Hawaii” is because it is easy for five- and six-year-olds to say.  It’s a word they are familiar with, plus it’s easy to remember. Our young learners are much less likely to verbally request to use this space when it’s a mouthful of words!  Plus, when talking to an escalated student about visiting the calming area, one simple word will be less likely to overwhelm them instead of a four-word name.

I also highly suggest using visual supports for students to request a break in your calm down area.  This can support students who have trouble verbalizing this request when escalated. However, keeping the name short is still a good idea.

More Tips for Naming Your Classroom Calming Space

If you’d like even more tips for naming your calm down corner, check out this video!  I also share some tips that will help you encourage your students to use this space in a positive way.  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you enjoy the video format!

Calm Down Corner Printables

I have a variety of printables that will help you rename the calm down space in your classroom.  If you like the idea of your students visiting Hawaii when they need a break, this is the resource for you!  It comes with posters, “take a break” cards, reflection sheets, and other visual supports that will help you set up an effective calming space for your classroom.  If you’d like to take a closer look at everything included in this resource, you can find it in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.

Visual tools to rename your calm down space

Save These Tips for Effective Calm Down Corner Names

Be sure to save this post if you’d like to come back to it later!  Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching or classroom management board on Pinterest.  You’ll be able to easily find this post when you’re ready to set up your own classroom calming space.

Tips for giving your calm down corner a more effective name


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