Self-Regulating Emotions with a Chill Out Corner in the Classroom

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Written by Victoria (Teach Starter)

“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.” – Mooji

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Eventually, every child will encounter a time when they experience overwhelming emotions. Without self-regulation or a safe place to escape, these emotions can spiral into a chaotic episode.

When children feel great frustration, anger, sadness or anxiety, they become confused and may be unsure how to control their emotions. By providing them with a quiet place to calm themselves down, children are then able to regain control over their own emotions. This also provides opportunities for diffusing a negative emotion or situation before it escalates.

Setting up a ‘chill out’ corner in the classroom gives children the responsibility of self-regulating their own emotions in a peaceful and safe place.

Setting Up a Chill Out Corner in Your Classroom

In your classroom, the chill out corner should be a designated area for calming down. It needs to be a quiet place – if possible, away from student desks and whole-class meeting areas. Set rules and expectations for the chill out corner with your class for children to respect and follow. Use our ‘classroom chill out passes‘ when you feel the children understand the expectations of using the chill our corner.

chill out passes

Calming colours, such as blues, greens, purples and greys, should be used to theme the chill out corner. Colours like red and orange can increase negative emotions. By using a light colour scheme, the chill out corner becomes a visible reminder to all children that it is a safe and peaceful place in their classroom for calming down.

Ensure the furniture you choose for the chill out corner is comfortable and relaxing. Use a rug to cover the floor and decorate the area with bean bags, pillows, balance cushions, weighted blankets and soft toys.

Lavender is a known natural remedy for releasing stress. To help calm children down, place a lavender plant, oil or diffuser in the chill out corner.

Deep breathing exercises are a simple but effective way to calm children down. Display posters in the chill out corner that demonstrate to children how they can calm themselves down with step-by-step breathing activities. You may also like to include some basic yoga positions for children on posters or cards.

Having books in the chill out corner provides children with a distraction away from their emotional state. Picture books can help children identify and express to others an emotion they are feeling. Keep a selection of books in the chill out corner to help calm children down and to identify a range of emotions.

Drawing and colouring is a form of art therapy and helps children to calm down and express emotions. In your chill out corner, keep a supply of colouring books, plain paper and sharpened pencils for children to use. Check out some of our calming classroom colouring pages:

Some children will need an outlet to get rid of angry emotions. Keep a supply of scrap paper for children to scrunch or rip up and a small tub of play dough for them to squeeze and roll out.

Sensory tactile objects, also known as ‘fidget toys’, provide something for children to hold and touch. They also help children to re-focus and gain control over their emotions. Keep a ‘calm down tool kit’ in the chill out corner filled with a range of sensory tactile objects.

Suggested Items to Place in a Calm Down Tool Kit

sensory bottle in chill out corner

  • Stress Balls These can be bought or made out of balloons and rice. Children can squeeze and poke the stress ball to release negative emotions.
  • Calming Bottles – Fill a plastic bottle with water and items such as glitter and jelly beads. Children can stare at the glitter floating around. This settles their breathing and emotions.
  • Bottle of Bubbles – These can be bought from discount stores or party suppliers. This helps children control their breathing and calm down.
  • Small Puzzles – These can be bought from a toy shop. Puzzles distract children away from negative emotions, calming them down.
  • Stretchy Bands Put a range of different sized rubber bands in the kit for children to pull and stretch.
  • Pipe CleanersThese can be bought from a craft store. Children can bend them into different positions.
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones – These can be bought from a music or electronic shop. Some children become overwhelmed when there is too much noise. By blocking out the noise, the child can calm themselves down.

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Comments & feedback

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Is the Chill out zone poster that is pictured available through teach starter?

Monica Kendall · Jun 11th, 2018

Hi Monica,

It sure is! Take a look at the link below:
https://www.teachstarter.com/teaching-resource/chill-zone-poster/

If there is anything else I can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kristian · Jun 12th, 2018

I am thinking of establishing a chill out corner but I am worried that it may become abused by student not wishing to complete work. How do you tackle this?
Regards,
Nicole

Nicole Hill · Jan 14th, 2018

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for your comment. It is great to hear that you are going to set up a chill out corner in your classroom!
To prevent your students from taking advantage of the space, we suggest that when you introduce the chill out corner, you establish a set of agreed class rules for the use of the corner. This way, your students will know the expectations for when and how the corner can be used. When explaining the rules, you may like to enforce that if the chill out corner is ‘abused’ it will be taken away. Also, it is a great idea to have a timer in the chill out corner so that the students can only use the space for a certain period of time.
We hope that these tips help and that your students love their new chill out corner!

Victoria (Teach Starter) · Jan 16th, 2018

I really like your visuals and the concept of chill out for students who need to find a quiet space to calm down for behaviour. The pass cards show this.
Is there anything similar on Teachstarter for children who need to go to a safe space to have time out not for behaviour but rather calming if they are overwhelmed by sadness or anxiety? I just looked at the wuppy puppy and is their a pass card for that or something similar I can access? Thanks for all your attractive and current ideas. Sharon McGucken

Sharon McGucken · Oct 12th, 2017

Hi Sharon,
Thank you for your comment and great suggestion!
At this stage, at Teach Starter we only have the Chill Out Passes.
If you would like us to create something more specific for the needs of your class, please feel free to use our ‘request a resource’ tool via the following link: https://www.teachstarter.com/request-a-resource/. If your request receives enough votes, the Teach Starter team will create your resource for you!
Kind regards,
Victoria.

Victoria (Teach Starter) · Oct 13th, 2017

I think chill out corners are essential, especially for those with aspergers/autism. I teach children with ASD and my corner gets used daily. I have a mirror on the wall with emotions around it. These help the children to see how they feel. Also, my fiddle toys are in a box called ‘The Red Beast’ box (Contents: liquid timers, bubble wrap, thera-putty, puzzle snakes and stress balls). This idea came from the book ‘The Red Beas’ by Al-Ghani. It’s a brilliant book that teaches the children what happens when they’re angry. I also have a ‘sensit’ chair for the children to wrap themselves in. There are ideas for calming down books online too (I Google drive for ideas), if you want to add to your resource collection. If I can find any links, I will share them with you.

Brenda Rooke · Jan 29th, 2017

Hi Brenda,
Thank you for sharing your chill out corner ideas!
It is always great to hear about different strategies that are working in the classroom!
Kind regards,
Victoria.

Victoria (Teach Starter) · Jan 30th, 2017

Love the idea of the mirror! Thanks for sharing this

Georgie Massey · Jun 9th, 2020

All of the above are great.

However could we have more resources older students? I work in high school but they still require self-regulation skills but it would be great if some of the resources were a little more age appropriate.
I am currently using the Inside Out the movie, it would be great if you could make a resource pack for this.

Marie Guest · Aug 22nd, 2016

Hi Marie,

Thanks for your comment!

Feel free to use our ‘request a resource’ tool via the following link: https://www.teachstarter.com/request-a-resource/. If your request receives enough votes, the Teach Starter team will create your resource for you!

Kind regards,
Holly

Holly (Teach Starter) · Aug 31st, 2016


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