My morning sessions went great, the students came to school fresh and ready to learn. With a few little brain breaks incorporated into my teaching, the mornings were an absolute success!
Eventually, the bell would ring for first-break, my students would head outside and I would have time to finish off my marking and have a break myself!
But, before I knew it, first-break had finished and my students were racing up to class, hot and sweaty, jumping around like they had ants in their pants! I would quickly walk outside to quieten them down, but I was faced with an impossible task! It appeared that my middle sessions were going to be a little more problematic than the first…
We’ve all been there, there is no way these children are going to concentrate enough for the second session if they’re still excited from their play time.
This is where ten minutes of music, coloring, meditation, just a little bit of quiet time is essential to re-focus your students.
Here are my top ideas to help calm your students down ready for the next learning session.
Play Relaxing Music
Playing relaxing music is incredibly powerful, especially when little minds need some quiet time!
Researchers have found that when playing relaxing music in the classroom, the music lowers students’ blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, slows down the heart rate and increases their attention span (Hurley, T).
Simply head to YouTube and search for ‘relaxing music for children’.
When children have been outside playing with their friends, exhausted from running around, sorting out friendship issues, engaging all of their social skills, it is nice for them to come in and focus on something just for themselves.
Coloring is a low-stress activity that allows students to focus, calm down and release their creative potential. Best of all it’s not competitive!
To add another element of relaxation, I would still have quiet music playing in the background.
Here are some of our coloring sheets:
Focus on Breathing
Breathing exercises are another powerful tool that can be taught to children to empower them to self-regulate their emotions.
Encouraging children to sit quietly and focus on their breathing is a quick and easy way to calm your students after lunch.
Here are some breathing exercises:
Flower Breath: Imagine smelling a beautiful flower, breath in through the nose and out the mouth, releasing any tension. Stop and smell the roses, daffodils, daisies or any other flower they like. This is a simple way to connect kids to their breath and how it helps them to feel.
Bunny Breath: Just 3 quick sniffs in the nose and one long exhale out the nose. Invite kids to pretend to be bunnies, sniffing the air for other bunnies, carrots to eat, or safety. It can be a lovely cleansing breath when you use it in this way.
For more ideas head to Move with Me Yoga Adventures Blog.
This YouTube video is another simple breathing exercise you could also do with your students:
Sensory Bags and Stress Balls
Sensory tools have always been seen as a way to calm down children on the spectrum, however, they are still a fantastic calming down tool for other students in your class.
Dim the lights and play some quiet music, as the children come into your classroom, have them pick a sensory toy to sit down and play with as they listen to the music!
Here are some sensory toy ideas:
Fill a zip lock bags with clear hair gel, use food coloring to die the gel if you wish.
Then put whatever you want in the bags, glitter, plastic bugs, water beads…anything!
Make stress balls using balloons, you can fill them with rice or play dough.
Sometimes, children need to talk! They need to tell you that they scored their first goal playing soccer, or that they had some sharing issues in the library. Perhaps they found a bug at lunchtime that they want to show you…
Why not set aside 10 minutes after break time to sit around in a circle and chat.
I had a little classroom toy pet (Turtle the Talker), the children would sit in a circle and pass Turtle the Talker around the room, children who wanted to talk or tell a story would hold on to Turtle the Talker until they were ready to pass it on to another child. Simple, yet effective!
Let your students lie down and listen to a story, encourage them to visualise what is happening in the story. Allow them time to unwind and focus on something different. It’s amazing how just one story can assist students to calm down!
If you have some students that still need to fidget – get out the fidget toy box!
Yoga helps children slow down and focus (Karen Tom from Charlotte Kid’s Yoga).
Not sure the of the yoga moves? That’s ok, check out our cute Yoga Poses for Kids posters. 16 different moves that you can do with your class.
Who would have thought handwriting could be a way to calm children after lunch time?
Doing some handwriting is a slow, repetitive task that requires concentration and helps students slowly adjust back to the quiet energy of the classroom.
Why not play some music as well!
Dim the Lights
Turning down those bright florescent lights is another great trick to help calm your students!
In my class I had the lights dimmed or off and had classical music playing. I would let only a couple of children into the room at a time, wait till they were settled and then allowed a few more children in.
This is a nice way to set a calm ambiance and help the students to reboot ready for the next learning session.
I stumbled across this YouTube clip that I thought would be a different way to calm students in your class.
A stunning aquarium visual with beautiful relaxing music. Again, I would pop this on and dim the lights before your class came back into the classroom.
Encourage your students to sit at their desks and listen to the music, they may wish to watch the aquarium or just place their head on their desk for some quiet time.
Share your Settling Techniques
Please share your strategies for settling students after lunch in the comments of this blog. What works for your class?