In my previous post about calming space must-haves, I mentioned how important it is to be mindful of the things that you bring into this streamlined, minimalistic space. My last post focused on social stories, but I also think calming strategy visual supports are essential for a calming space in the kindergarten classroom. In this post, I’m going to share some tips for using calm down corner visuals that are very effective for young students!
5 Tips for Using Calm Down Corner Visuals
As with any visual supports in kindergarten, there are things to consider before adding them to your classroom. Here are some tips for adding visual supports to your calming space.
1. Use Visuals to Offer Choices
Visual supports are an effective way to offer choices to your students. In a calm down corner, visuals can remind students of the different calming strategies that they can choose to use in that space. These choices can be presented on small calming strategy cards or on a poster that stays on the wall.
The key is to offer a small number of choices at a time. Students shouldn’t be overwhelmed with a wall full of calming strategy visuals or a stack of calming strategy cards. After trying a few strategies for a while, you can switch out one or two at a time to give your students a chance to practice new calming strategies. The visual support creates a helpful reminder of these strategies!
2. Include Acceptable Calming Strategies
Another important part of introducing calming strategies is to only include strategies that are acceptable for your classroom. There are so many different options, there are bound to be some strategies that don’t work within your classroom rules or resources.
For example, bouncing on an exercise ball is a great calming strategy in some classrooms. This wouldn’t be a good strategy card to use if you don’t have access to an exercise ball or your classroom doesn’t have enough space. Chewing gum is another example of a calming strategy that might be against your own personal classroom rules.
3. Practice the Strategies Before They’re Needed
Once you’ve decided on teh acceptable calming strategies that you’d like to include with your visual supports, it’s time to practice those strategies! Just as I mentioned in my last post about social stories, it’s essential for young students to practice these calming strategies before they need them.
You can start by demonstrating each strategy for your class. Show them the corresponding visual, then show students where they would find the supplies for that strategy (if applicable). You can then show students what it looks like to participate in that calming strategy. Then, you could invite a couple of students to model each calming strategy.
Another fun way to practice these calming strategies might be during morning meetings. You could hold up the strategy cards as students either demonstrate the strategy (such as jumping jacks) or point to where they would find that calming activity (like a puzzle).
4. Make Them Easy to Access
Once you’ve selected and practiced your calming strategies, it’s time to make those visual supports easy for students to access. If you choose to keep your calming strategy cards in a task card box, be sure your students are able to open the latch. You could also choose to hole-punch the strategy cards and put them on a binder ring.
Another option for your calm down corner visuals is to put them on a poster that hangs in the calming area. This can be a great option if you think your students wouldn’t be likely to use the cards. No matter how you decide to make your visual supports easy to access, be sure to laminate them for durability. This will help them last longer in an environment where paper is prone to getting ripped or crumpled.
5. Use Visuals to Replace Verbal Cues
My final tip for using visual supports in your calming space is to rely on them when your students need cueing. When students are upset and escalated, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them with a lot of language. However, there are moments when a student in the calm down corner needs to be redirected and encouraged to make a good choice. Having visual supports in your calming space can really help with this!
You can hold up two cards, one in each hand, to remind the student that he or she has choices for calming strategies. This small visual reminder is a great way to help students get back on track without adding language to the mix. Visual cueing is also more likely to be noticed since escalated students might tune out auditory information.
More Ideas for Calm Down Corner Visuals
I am creating videos to go along with this blog post series on calming space must-haves. In this video, I give you a closer look at calming strategy cards that you can use in your classroom calming space.
Printable Calm Down Corner Visuals
Would you like to add helpful visual supports to your calming corner? I have created a time-saving resource to help you do just that! This set of visual supports includes a variety of strategies that your students can use to calm down when escalated. These illustrated calming strategies are perfect for a kindergarten classroom! The kid-friendly cards are easy for students to use with minimal intervention from adults. There is also a poster version of these calming strategies if that works better for your classroom.
If you’d like to take a closer look at these calm down corner printables, you can find this resource in the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or on TPT.
Save These Visuals for Your Kindergarten Calming Space
I hope that this series is giving you some helpful ideas for setting up your kindergarten calming space. If you want to come back to this post later, be sure to save the pin below! Just add it to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly find these calm down corner visual supports and tips whenever you need them!