Check out some of our favorite simple items to create a DIY Calm Down Kit for home, the classroom, or on the go!
Recently at The Treehouse, we’ve worked with several kiddos who often become overstimulated and overwhelmed during our play groups. During our groups, kids move through all different kinds of play-based activities – some quieter seated activities and some more active movement activities.
For many of our kids who have behavior challenges, who struggle with sensory issues, or who experience anxiety, it’s really important to have calming options on hand so that we can quickly and easily facilitate short breaks during our play groups to help kids get back on track.
Whether we’re working with a child who has tantrums or a child who becomes overly excitable during active gross motor games, our calming kit is a great way to keep some tools and strategies at our fingertips to help provide calming support that meets the child’s needs.
Here’s what we keep in our calm down kit at The Treehouse – what would you add?
DIY Calm Down Kit
1 || Disc Counters
Print, laminate, and cut out these very basic printable templates and you’ll have instant counters to help kids understand how many repetitions of a calming activity they should perform. Just add velcro to the discs and the square templates and – for example – if a child is going to squeeze the firm therapy putty 10 times, you can take off one of the green discs for each of the repetitions. When the discs are gone, the calming break is over!
2 || Deep Breathing
We love using different calming breathing techniques to help kids become more aware of their breath and to calm their bodies and minds. Here are some of our favorite techniques, including the Hoberman Sphere, mentioned below.
3 || Hallway Waiting Games
This awesome printable pack, is full of ready-made signs that you can laminate and use for quick calming breaks. We like the pages titled “Trace”, “Push”, and “Breathe” for calming.
4 || Simple File Folder Task
We have also included a couple of quick and easy file folder tasks that a child can complete in a quiet area of our play space for a calming break. Sometimes a focused, repetitive task like this can help a child calm down and reset. We love this list of 75 File Folder Games from ABCs to ACTs.
We use this great toy as a visual prompt for deep breathing. Hold the sphere (or have the child hold it if they’re able to control its movement) and collapse it as the child slowly exhales. When the child inhales, pull the sphere to expand it. It’s a mesmerizing strategy for practicing breath awareness.
6 || Put In Tasks
We’ve found that simple, repetitive fine motor tasks can often have a calming effect on kids. You can read more about this strategy and find our favorite fine motor reset ideas here.
This vibrating massager can be a great calming tactile option during break times. Kids can even use it as a fidget tool during quiet seated activities.
You can use one of these instead of the disc counters (see #1 above) – the beep gives a clear ending to each break time.
This is a great option for kids who need a visual component to understand how much longer their calming break will last.
Squishing and squeezing firm resistance therapy putty can be an effective calming proprioceptive activity for kids.
Pulling against the resistance of a therapy band is another awesome calming/organizing sensory activity.
12 || Lavender Lotion
Using the olfactory system can be another effective option for calming and, pairing it with the calming tactile experience of rubbing lotion on the child’s hands can be a match made in heaven!
13 || Printable Breathing Exercise Cards from Childhood 101
These printable breathing exercise cards from Childhood 101 are another perfect addition to any calming kit. The images are adorable and each card provides a detailed description of a different breathing technique. These are great to try with a whole group of kids.
14 || Visual Bubble Timer
Whether you use this as another timer option similar to the ones described above or just as a calming visual break – this product is a must-have for a calming kit.
What other products, materials, or strategies would you add to a calm down kit to help provide a structure to calming breaks for kids? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
Looking for other calming strategies for kids? Here are our favorites:
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