Successful Calm Corner Ideas for Classrooms
Updated: Sep 30
What is a Classroom Calm Corner?
The Calm Corner is a designated spot in the classroom where students can go when they are feeling dysregulated. It is a structured break to help students self-regulate so they can alleviate their distress and get back to learning. This is a trauma-sensitive initiative that contains simple, quiet activities that students can use to help them learn to identify and manage their feelings. I’ve found that the key to a successful Calm Corner is to teach the students how to use it, have them practice it, and have the space be used in a structured way. Otherwise, an unstructured break might inadvertently make your student even more anxious or upset!
In this blog post, I'll give you a free printable social story about Calm Corners, address what a Calm Corner is and the key to a successful classroom Calm Corner implementation including the purpose of a Calm Corner, how to introduce and structure your Calm Corner to help reduce anxiety, when students should use the Calm Corner, what to name your Calm Corner, where to put your Calm Corner, what materials to include in your Calm Corner, and using Calm Corners as a tier-1 school-wide intervention.
About The Calm Corner
Everyone gets upset at times, and children need to be taught strategies to help them manage their emotions. Learning to regulate your emotions isn’t something that comes naturally for anyone – it is a skill that needs to be taught and then practiced!
The Calm Corner teaches students how to utilize healthy coping strategies to calm themselves down when they are feeling stressed, upset, or distressed in class. It’s a method that allows students to stay in the classroom to self-regulate, allowing them to have less disruptions in their learning time. This means less trips to the nurse’s office, counselor’s office, or main office!
I have a comprehensive Calm Corner Kit that gives you everything you need. Read more to learn about it!
Calm Corners as a Tier-One School Wide Intervention to Decrease Office and Behavior Referrals
Best case scenario, I recommend that schools implement school-wide Calm Corners as a whole school tier-one intervention. This means that the Calm Corners would have the same language and structure throughout all the classrooms in the building.
Universal language is important for children and having the same routine and structure makes children feel safe and comfortable because they know exactly what to expect, which helps reduce anxiety too.
Having calm corners school-wide is beneficial because this means when the students are in one classroom and grade, the area is called the same thing and when they go to any other classroom - art, computers, library, health, gym, or even when they have a substitute teacher, it will always be called the same thing and have the same basic structure.
Even when the students move on to the next grade, it would still be familiar to them because it was implemented as a school-wide tier-one intervention. I’ve done this in two of my schools so far and we saw behavior incidents decrease with consistent, school-wide implementation of structured Calm Corners when they were taught to students and used with fidelity.
Does this sounds good but you don’t want to recreate the wheel? I have an entire Calm Corner bundle with *everything* you need to implement a successful Calm Corner in your classroom! It incudes training for the students, training for staff, and all the visuals, activities, coping skills, and more! Check it out here.
How to Use The Calm Corner
You need to figure out a system that works best for your classroom. Typically, the students can either go there on their own or be asked to go there by a teacher. Students can be asked to go to the Calm Corner either verbally or with a break card visual.
The student will stay in the Calm Corner spot for a designated time (we do 3-5 minutes) and they use a timer. You’ll need to pick a length of time that makes sense for your classroom. And students on individual behavior plans may have different time periods so consult with your behaviorist, school counselor, school social worker, or school psychologist.
If you notice that a student is visiting the Calm Corner too often, it’s probably time to figure out the reason why and then develop a better plan to meet the student’s needs in a different way. This would be the time when you should collaborate and consult with the mental health specialists in your building.
Do Calm Corners Work?
When you first introduce this new system to your classroom, most students will be soo excited and find an excuse to use it. Don’t worry - the novelty of this will soon wear off. To help with this, tell your class that you are going to call on every student to have each student practice using the Calm Corner over the next few weeks, so everyone will have a turn.
In my Calm Corner Kit, I have a class presentation to help you introduce the Calm Corner to ensure it's success in your classroom! I am also sharing this free printable Calm Corner social story with you. It comes in color and black and white. Just scroll to the top of this page and subscriber to my SEL Resource library! (Be sure to opt-in to the first email!) You'll unlock my whole library and get new freebies each month from me!
What is the Purpose of a Calm Corner?
Children require ample and genuine support when they are stressed, scared, or frustrated and coping skills must be taught, modeled, and reinforced. The purpose of the calm corner is to facilitate emotional support for students and to create a safe place for them to use their coping skills.
If your student has access to supports immediately or proactively there is less disruption in the teaching environment. Generally, in my experience, once the novelty wears off when it is introduced, the only students that will use the space are the ones that actually need it. The purpose of a designated calming area in the classroom is to give the child a safe space to practice the self-regulation skills they’ve been taught, while they are in classroom, and so they can get back to learning.
Calm Corner Ideas: What Should I Call the Calm Corner in My Classroom?
A fun thing to do to help you get buy-in for this new initiative, is to create a survey to ask your students and teachers to vote on what they want to name the area! It’s super easy to do this through google forms too.
In my last school, they voted to call it the Peaceful Place. My current school calls it a Calm Corner. I love instagram, so I asked some of my friends over there what they call their Calm Corner and this is what they shared!
Cool Down Zone
Cool Down Spot
Take 5 Area
Time in Toolkit
Calm Down Cloud
Take a Break
Australia (inspired from the book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.)
Calm Corner Printables and Posters: What Do You Put in a Calm Down Corner?
In my Calm Corner bundle, I provide all of these printable materials done for you!:
Calm Corner Sign - a sign identifying the area is important, and hopefully the same term is used school-wide since universal language is so important for children
Calm Corner Steps Poster - these are the 8 steps to make the break structured, which children with anxiety and emotional dysregulation benefit from
What Else Can I Do? Visual with more advanced cognitive coping strategies for upper elementary and middle school students
Feelings Chart Poster for helping students identify their emotions
Choice Board to choose which activities or coping tools they will use
Snowman Stress Melter Breath from my book Skills for Big Feelings (this is one of the 8 steps taught for a structured and successful break)
The Calm Corner Kit and The Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle
Create a beautiful Calm Corner and design a safe and relaxing space for students to self-regulate with this Calm Corner Kit for grades K to 6! Specially crafted for teachers and educators to promote healthy emotional regulation in their classrooms,
The Calm Corner Kit is a fun, imaginative, and rewarding tool for cultivating a positive and productive classroom environment for your students. Packed with a lovely collection of exercises, cards, charts, posters, signs, coloring pages and so much more, teachers can begin creating a safe and quiet place in their classroom for children who feel upset and need to calm down, let off steam, and take a much-needed breather.
Students benefit from structure when they are feeling anxious or emotionally dysregulated and this kit gives you everything you need to create a STRUCTURED and successful Calm Corner!
With a complete done-for-you system including presentations to help both staff and children understand the Calm Corner, a handy Calm Corner log to track usage, easy-to-use break passes, and simple instructions to help you use your Calm Corner with success, this delightful teaching resource is an essential tool for teachers who want to promote emotional awareness in their students and provide options for kids who feel overwhelmed, worried, or who are struggling to manage their emotions.
Included in The Calm Corner Kit: ✨
✔ Includes Editable Presentations to Introduce Staff and Students to Your Calm Corner
✔ Handy Step-By-Step Instructions For Educators to Set Up a Successful Calm Corner
✔ Done-For-You Charts, Posters, Cards, Signs, and Fun Resources To Create a Relaxing and Soothing Environment
✔ A Feelings Chart Poster To Help Kids Identify Their Feelings and Cultivate Emotional Awareness
✔ Yoga Pose Cards To Promote Calming Exercises
✔ Gentle Stretching Pose Cards Combined with Positive Affirmations
✔ An Editable Choice Board For Kids To Decide on Activities
✔ An Editable Parent Letter to Introduce Families to Your New Classroom Tool
✔ Interactive Coping Tools like Dough Breathing Mats and Snowman Stress Melter Breathing Exercise
✔ 100 Beautifully Illustrated Coloring Pages and Worksheets With Positive Affirmations
✔ A Reinforcement Chart with Social Story to Encourage Use... And Much More!
Featuring beautiful illustrations, cute characters, and a simple approach that’s great for grades K to 6, The Calm Corner Kit is an invaluable tool that takes the stress out of setting up a Calm Corner and provides a handy, creative new way of empowering your students and making your classroom a safe and welcoming place.
With tons of printable sheets, supplies lists, and plenty of different resources to suit every classroom, this teaching resource is a brilliant tool for designing a calm learning environment.
Want a Discount? Check out The ULTIMATE Calm Corner Bundle ... Which Has Everything above in The Calm Corner Kit PLUS:
➜ This 100 Coping Skill Card Set is Included in The Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle: ✨
✔ 100 Coping Skills Posters
✔ 100 Coping Skills Full-Color Cards
✔ 100 Coping Skills Black and White Cards - perfect for coloring
✔ Google Slides digital edition for screen sharing on a smartboard, telehealth, or remote learning
✔ 3 Sorting Mats
✔ Coping Skills Checklist
➜ This Breathing Boards Set is Included in The Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle: ✨
✔ 36 different digital and print breathing boards in 18 different themes for a fun, regulating, and interactive coping skills activity
➜ This Would You Rather? Yoga Set is Included in The Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle: ✨
✔ 30 pocket-sized Would You Rather? yoga cards
✔ 30 poster-sized Would You Rather? yoga cards
✔ Google slides presentation
More Calm Corner Materials You May Want to Add
A timer is very important for a Calm Corner. You can use a visual timer (my top choice), a sand timer (these can be more affordable in bulk but they can be tricky for kids because there is no sound), or a digital timer (I buy these in bulk for my teachers.)
Crayons or colored pencils with a sharpener (depending on the grade.)
Play-Doh - I purchase small packages in bulk party packs for my teachers. The Calm Corner Kit includes breathing dough mats which are so fun and regulating and the kids love them!
A rug, bean bag chair, cushions, or a sequin pillow to make the space cozy. I love these sequin pillows because they can double as a coping tool! Teach the kids to rub in one direction as they breathe in, and then rub in the other direction as they breathe out. It is very soothing and satisfying both visually and kinesthetically! I also love to use outdoor cushions because they are durable and often on-sale at the end of summer!
Self-Adhesive Sicky Dots (for the choice board squares but these can also be good for attaching visuals to the wall)
Binder rings (I use a hole punch and these rings to secure the affirmation and stretch cards together neatly!)
*More Fidgets and Sensory Tools
I’ve included a lot of choices on the choice board squares. I suggest asking your students what they prefer and maybe having them vote on it. Then only put out some items at a time and rotate them. The choice board I use has room for 12 options at a time. Too many choices can increase anxiety in some students. Here are some ideas and you can find more in my Calm Corner Ultimate Bundle!
Skills for Big Feelings Coping Skill Cards
Smell the Flower Blow the Candle craft tool from Skills for Big Feelings Growing Bundle
The Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle
If you are looking for engaging calm corner activities, and having everything that is already done-for-you (including a staff training presentation and a student-presentation to introduce the sucessful use of a calm corner to your class), you need to check out my Ultimate Calm Corner Bundle!
Where to Put Your Calm Corner in Your Classroom
You’ll want to designate a well-defined space in your classroom for your Calm Corner. The area should be inviting and uncluttered. Ideally, the location is somewhat out of the way and removed from whole group area but still within your line of vision (if possible). You’ll want to have an area to hang up the visuals.
The space should not double as another classroom need, such as a literacy or math station. The students need to know that this space is available to them at any time. And if you’re not using an area with a table or desk, try to put a clipboard or lapdesk so children can have surface to color or draw on.
How to Structure Using The Calm Corner
You need to teach your students how to use The Calm Corner! So the routine needs to be taught and practiced! This is why I have don’t the work for you and include not only a staff presentation, but also a student presentation in my Calm Corner kit!
Before you present it to your class, decide how your students will access the space. Will they just go there? Use a special nonverbal signal? Raise their hand? Use a card or flip a card?
Figure out a plan if two students need to use it at the same time. So if your Calm Corner is being used, what should they do? Ideally, if a teacher next door also has one, can your student go there to use it as a buddy classroom?
Please note, if a student is unsafe or in a crisis, they’ll need to leave the room and seek more support than they would get from a simple calm corner. You’ll need to use your judgment in determining what level of support your students need.
The Calm Corner and Discipline
The Calm Corner should not be used as a form of discipline or consequence. It is not a traditional "time out” and it is not punitive at all. The Calm Corner is a place in the classroom where children can take a few minutes to decompress, take a breather, or think about making different choices. It should be used when a student's stress, anxiety, anger, or frustration (i.e. their BIG FEELINGS) are interfering with their ability to focus and learn.
When Should Students Use The Calm Corner?
Students should use the clam corner when they are showing signs of emotional dysregulation due to anxiety, frustration, anger, etc. This can be used as a preventative intervention if you know a behavior antecedent or trigger is coming up. If kids have gone through Skills for Big Feelings program, they will have identified their triggers as well! The Calm Corner is not intended to be used for students who are in crisis or who are exhibiting unsafe behavior.
This free social story tells kids when and how they can use the calm corner! Just scroll up to subscribe to my free resource library to access this (be sure to check your email and confirm the opt-in that is sent to unlock my whole library for free!)