Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies

Kinesthetic Calm Downs

Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies are activities that use slow sustained heavy work for muscles (e.g., carry something heavy) or gentle rhythmic movements (e.g., slow rocking) to support self-regulation. When students display high-energy or agitation, the teacher encourages students to participate in tasks that activate their muscles (e.g., pulling a weighted wagon, yoga poses) or engage in slow rhythmic actions (e.g., tai chi, slow breathing) in order to return to a calm state. These activities can be built into the classroom schedule to provide opportunities for all students to participate in short, structured movement breaks while minimizing stigma for students that might need to engage in these activities on a more frequent or as needed basis. Engaging in these activities help students release neurotransmitters that positively impact attentiveness, drive, and self-awareness.

Implementation Tips

Supporting Student Choices
Provide a student that will frequently engage in Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies a choice board/activity cards to choose from (e.g., a choice of [[ | water beads ]], [[ | kinetic sand ]], or [[ | yoga poses ]]) to promote independence and self-regulation. Use a timer to help structure each movement break (e.g., 2-4 minutes).
Individualizing The Needs Of Each Student
Experiment with different types of calming movements when initiating a calming routine with a student. Use trial and error to see if the student responds best to more physical activities (e.g., wall or chair pushes, standing yoga poses) or simplified body position adjustments (e.g., seated yoga forward bend).
Introducing Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies
Explain that calming and stimulating activities can cause different body sensations when introducing Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies. Tell early learners these activities will help them “turn their sillies off.” For older students, adapt the language used to describe the purpose (e.g., needing a break or a “cool down”).
Planning With Specialists
Consult with an Occupational Therapist (OT) to plan and customize Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies to fit the sensory needs of individual students since some students with sensory processing issues may react differently to movement activities (e.g., opposite of an expected response).
Encouraging Self-Assessment
Encourage students to self-assess how they feel before and after participating in Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies. Students can be prompted to reflect verbally or in writing. Also, track student reactions and levels of learning readiness to notice trends in how activities affect students (e.g., using a scale of 1-5).
Student Leaders
Allow students opportunities to lead whole class Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies in order to help students build self-confidence and take ownership of the activities they get to lead. Be sure to rotate student leaders and encourage leaders to conduct post-calm down reflections.
Building A Communication System
Establish a signal that can be used to indicate when Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies are needed, such as cue cards or specific hand signals that can be shown to an individual student without disrupting the flow of the classroom. With this system, the student will be able to independently take the movement break.


Whole Class Yoga
While observing students throughout the school day, a teacher notices the class consistently becomes distracted during independent work periods after about fifteen minutes. To support learners’ attentiveness and engagement, the teacher schedules a 4-5 minute whole class yoga break to help students build stamina during longer periods of independent work. Poses include a forward bend (e.g., seated or standing), simple balancing poses, along with one chosen by students from a [[ | yoga chart ]] posted on the whiteboard. The teacher instructs student to focus on breathing slowly and in coordination with the motions in each pose (e.g., breathe in with upward movements / breathe out with downward movements).
Individualized Calming Routine
A teacher and Occupational Therapist (OT) collaborate to address the needs of a student regarding self-regulation since the student frequently seeks out physical aggression when upset. A plan is created to help the student use Kinesthetic Calm Down Strategies before physical escalations. The student is provided with opportunities to experiment with a variety of movement activities, and describes a sense of calmness after heavy lifting work (e.g., carrying a box of books). The teacher introduces a cue card (e.g., picture of a box) to the student to serve as a non-verbal communication symbol when indicating that the student should engage in this during daily activities.

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