Picture this… my morning has gone great, the students have all come to school fresh and ready to learn. Winning! I’ve incorporated a few little brain breaks into my teaching and the morning has been a resounding success! It’s time for my students to head to lunch, so I get a little break myself! But, before I know it, lunch has finished, and as I enter the cafeteria to pick up my class, there they all are – jumping around like they have ants in their pants!
It quickly becomes apparent that my afternoon is going to be a little more problematic than the morning… this is where having some ways to calm your class after lunch is hugely beneficial!
Teacher Tips for Ways to Calm your Class After Lunch
(1) 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 their heart rate, and increases their attention span (Hurley, T).
Simply head to YouTube and search for ‘relaxing music for children’.
When children have been in a loud cafeteria with their friends, talking and laughing and 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! Our Giant Printable Coloring sheet is the perfect resource for a whole-class coloring corner!
To add another element of relaxation, I would still have quiet music playing in the background.
Here are some of our coloring sheets:
(3) 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 our blog, 18 Amazing Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom.
This YouTube video is another simple breathing exercise you could also do with your students:
We also have this fantastic mindful breathing activity video available on the Teach Starter Youtube channel:
(4) Calming Sensory Bottles
Sensory tactile objects, also known as ‘fidget toys’, provide something for children to hold and touch. They also help children to refocus 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.
Recycle some plastic bottles and pop in some water with other items that will sink and float such as marbles or environmentally friendly glitter!
(5) Circle Time – Classroom Debrief
Sometimes, children need to talk! They need to tell you that they had leftover birthday cake in their lunchbox today, or that a classmate yelled in their ear. Perhaps they found a lost shoe at lunchtime that they want to tell you about…
Why not set aside 10 minutes after lunch time to sit around in a circle and chat.
I had a little classroom toy pet (Turtle the Talker). After lunch, the children would sit in a circle and pass Turtle the Talker around the room. Those 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!
(6) Have a Read Aloud
Let your students relax and listen to a story, encourage them to visualize 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!
(7) Yoga for Kids
Yoga helps children slow down and focus (Karen Tom from Charlotte Kid’s Yoga).
Not sure 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.
For more tips, head over to our blog – Tips for Teaching Yoga to Kids.
Who would have thought handwriting could be a way to calm children after lunchtime?
Doing some handwriting is a slow, repetitive task that requires concentration and helps students slowly adjust back to the quiet energy of the classroom.
Again, this might not work for every child in your class, it’s about finding ways that work for your group of students.
Why not play some music as well!
(9) 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 get ready for the afternoon learning session.
(10) Aquarium Watching
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.