Strategy

Calming Box

Anti-Anxiety Kit, Calm Down Kit, Calming Kit, Meditation Box

A Calming Box is a container of actual objects that serves to help students lower their energy levels, reduce agitation, or self-soothe with materials they can smell, see, feel, and possibly taste to relax when frustration levels or energy is heightened (e.g., smell: lavender or scratch-and-sniff stickers, see: glitter calming jar or visual timer, feel: stress ball or Playdoh, taste: gum sticks). A Calming Box can also include activities students can engage with as a “brain break” (e.g., deck of cards, crossword puzzle, an emotion journal to write out thoughts in times of crises). Using a Calming Box gives students an immediate comfort and serves as a temporary distraction during times when a student is demonstrating emotional distress or high energy, and it helps students build the strategies and confidence to be able to manage their emotions on their own.

Implementation Tips

Creating a Calming Box
Include objects or activities that appeal to the senses (e.g., sight, touch, sound, smell, taste), such as PlayDoh, calming music, sensory textured balls, kaleidoscope, or pinwheels for deep breathing. Click [[ http://www.andnextcomesl.com/2016/04/what-to-put-in-a-calm-down-kit-for-kids.html | here ]] for a list of over 40 additional ideas to include in lower grades boxes, or [[ http://www.andnextcomesl.com/2016/12/calm-down-kit-for-older-kids.html | here ]] for an upper grades list.
Making It Personal
Decide if a student will access a class-wide Calming Box to provide comfort during times of distress or frustration, or if a designated personal Calming Box will be used. When creating a personal Calming Box, allow the student to bring in comforting materials (e.g., copies of photographs, a small soft blanket).
Pre-Teach
Pre-teach the signs and indications that students can look out for when feeling anxious or frustrated. Before introducing a Calming Box, describe the changes students might experience or feel in their body or mind (e.g., heightened sense, rapid heartbeat, unsteady breathing) to build self-awareness.
Introducing a Calming Box
Explain how to use a Calming Box (e.g., “When you feel overwhelmed or upset, the items in this Calming Box will help you refocus and ease your mind.”) and show the student(s) what is in the container. Set expectations, such as how long students will access the box (e.g., 2-5 minutes), before introducing it.
Supportive Visual Prompt Cards
Add supportive visual prompts to a Calming Box to help a student independently manage the items and activities included. Simple visual prompt cards, similar to these [[ https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-AYNqtFRwdkk/VwzycwYqDYI/AAAAAAAAYnk/TuC_L5S1DHYk4TbUlcAHUxtXyR1QbZOCQCLcB/s1600/free-printable-photo-cards-with-calm-down-strategies-for-kids-with-autism-anxiety-SPD-1.jpg | laminated, hole-punched examples attached to a ring ]], helps the student remember what to do (e.g., Blow bubbles. / Read a relaxing poem.).
Portable Calming Box
Make Calming Boxes portable so that students can utilize them anywhere in the classroom or bring them to specialty classes and less structured settings, such as recess. Choose a container that it sturdy with a tight fitting lid, such as a shoebox or medium sized Tupperware.
Building a Routine
Allow a student to access a Calming Box when the student’s energy needs to be redirected to prevent classroom disruptions or to support learning that will be impaired by the student’s emotional state. The use of a Calming Box should be teacher-directed to prevent overuse “for play” rather than a calming tool.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Sensory Tools
Create DIY sensory tools to include in a Calming Box. Follow these [[ http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/activities/funscience/be-dazzled/ | National Geographic Kids How-To steps ]] to make a kaleidoscope using classroom materials (e.g., empty paper towel roll, colorful transparent beads/shiny confetti, construction paper, tape), or make fascinating sensory bottles by clicking [[ http://www.arkansas.gov/childcare/advfortoddlers/doc/clotheswewear/Fasteners,%20Pockets%20and%20Accessories%20-%20Attachment%201.pdf | here ]].

Examples

Personal Calming Box
During choice time, a student continually becomes extremely upset (e.g., displays tantrum-like qualities) any time a likable peer chooses an activity that they are not interested in. Since the student becomes too upset to engage in an immediate discussion, the teacher creates a Calming Box to help relax and re-direct the student. The teacher adds materials (e.g., stress ball, visual timer, mini massager, sketch pad) and invites the student to bring in helpful calming items (e.g., photograph of family pet, a rubik’s cube). When the student demonstrates these behaviors, the Calming Box is presented to help reduce anxiety. Once calm, the student and teacher discuss feelings and create a plan of action.
Reflection Calming Box
During a conflict resolution lesson, a teacher introduces a Calming Box and explains, “Sometimes when we’re facing a conflict and feel confused or even frustrated, we need time and space to gather our thoughts. To support this, our classroom will now have a Calming Box.” The teacher presents the box and its contents (e.g., stress ball, emotions chart, reflection sheets with sentence starters) and explains that students can access this helpful tool when they need time to reflect. Guidelines are established (e.g., one person at a time, ask permission, time limit). Students use the strategy to self-regulate and problem-solve before asking for adult assistance when attempting to resolve personal issues.

Related Strategies