Every classroom has students quick to anger, students with anxiety, and students extra sensitive to the ways of the world. One of the most effective ways to help students self-regulate at school is through the use of peace corners. They are trauma-informed and truly benefit individual students as well as overall class culture. I’ve written before about how I rolled them out at a previous school. Whether you call them peace corners, calm corners, regulation stations, or zen dens – they rock. After lots of questions over the past couple years on Instagram, I’m adding this post to share more strategies for effectively using classroom peace corners. For a lot of this, I’m providing some of the scripting that I use both with students and teachers.
How do you introduce it/how do you teach students how to use it?
“Have you ever felt really upset before at school? Maybe you felt super sad, or angry, or you got really worried about something. I want everyone to think about a time they were upset at school. When you felt like that, were you able to learn? Were you thinking about what your teacher was teaching you? Probably not. It was probably also really hard for you to make good choices. When we have strong uncomfortable feelings, our brains have a tough time learning and being the best we can be. It happens to everyone! That’s why it’s really important for you to learn how to take care of your feelings.
What things do you put inside the peace corner?
I find that every school, every cohort, every class responds differently to the tools. I wish I could say that elementary kiddos will willingly self-regulate in a peace corner with only free items, but it has been my experience that investment in using the peace corner is in part due to the tools inside. Here are some of the things I’ve found to consistently be a hit in my office and/or in classrooms (some of these are affiliate links):
- Sequin pillows (you know, the kind that you can sweep your hand over and the sequins reverse). The weighted sequin animals are pretty cute too.
- Soft stress balls (NOT the foam kind – I loved the ones I found in the Target dollar spot last fall. You can make similar feeling ones with balloons and flour or try these Amazon ones).
- Liquid Timers (Or mind jars are pretty cool too. I like 1 part glycerine to 3 parts warm water, plus 2-3 drops of dish soap, 2 drops of food coloring, and glitter)
- Stuffed animals (big and fluffy is preferred)
- Something stretchy to pull and wrap – I got ones from the Target dollar spot and have also gotten these similar things from Amazon
- Breathing Visual (Ok the truth is that they don’t love breathing – my kiddos will do mindful breathing with me guiding, in class lessons, in small groups…but not independently when they’re upset. That said, I think it’s incredibly important so I continue to include it.)
- “Pin Art“ – None of my classrooms have this, but I have one in my office and it is everyone’s faaaavorite thing to use. I don’t know if I would call it calming, but I think it provides both a sensory and cognitive experience that grounds kids and gets them out of their negative headspace.
- “Hoberman Sphere“ – Pricey, so not a must have or super feasible for an entire school, but this is definitely a big win in my office.
- Slinkys are also a huuuuuge hit in my office, and last spring I bought a set of mini-ones that I loaned out to kiddos who wanted to borrow one for a little bit on tough days in class.
- Coloring stuff – easy mandalas and colored pencils or crayons.
- Coping Lapbook – I started off making these for individual students who needed additional support and incentive to self-regulate, and then I realized I should have been putting them in all of the classrooms.
Who pays for the materials?
What does a peace corner look like?
What if students start overusing it or use it to avoid work?
What do you say to people who think their students will just use it to play and that it takes away from instruction?
What other questions do you have about peace corners/calm corners? Let me know and I’ll continue to update this post!
Pin for later: