My school is teaching students about the zones of regulation this year. I’d never heard of the program before, but I think it seems like a great way for children to understand and manage their emotions.
The big takeaway that I wanted students to have is that sometimes we feel sad, rundown, worried, frustrated, or out of control and that we can manage these feelings.
What we did:
1. The class did a “zoom in” thinking routine (on PowerPoint) which allowed students to focus on the way the physical body might look when we are “shutting down” or out of control. (I downloaded a picture of a child having a temper tantrum and one of a child with his head down and fists clenched.)
2. I showed the class a PowerPoint with images of different situations. Students did think/pair/share to discuss how they would feel and which zone they would be in during each situation.
The situations were: You want to hit someone who isn’t sharing; You’re in a long assembly and you don’t understand most of it; You’re going for a walk in nice weather; You dropped your snack and it spilled all over; You are picked up late; You got a good night’s sleep; Someone keeps tapping your shoulder; Your family is reading together; Your pencil point broke and you have a sharpener.
3. The next day the class discussed strategies they can try in each zone. I created pictures of kids trying different strategies. Children took turns choosing a picture and presenting it to the class. The class then shared whether or not that strategy works for them, and the zone with which it tends to help them.
Download these picture here: Ms V – Zones of Regulation
4. I stapled together books that have a blue, yellow, and red page. Over the next 3 days we focused on one zone per day. We explored how we might think, feel, or act when we are in that zone. Then students drew the strategies that work for them in that zone.
To explore the yellow zone, I played a dice game against the class. The students’ dice had the numbers 0, 1, 2, and 3 only. My dice had the numbers 3-7. Of course the students kept losing. After a few rounds I asked if anyone was in the yellow zone. I told the class that was a very unfair game and showed them the difference in the dice. We then talked about how losing at a game might make us feel in the yellow zone but there are ways we can cope.
5. Once the books were finished, the students sat on the carpet and “read” their books. I encouraged them to add more strategies if they wanted.
6. The following day, the students shared their books with partners.
7. Some students “read” their books on video to be posted on their student blogs.
The students enjoyed making the books and were visibly proud when the books were finished. Creating the books over a few days was a great idea because the students gave each page their full concentration.
More importantly, the students grasped the idea that strategies can help us calm down when we feel out of control. This was evident when the students were sharing their books on Easy Blog and I asked “Why is it important to have strategies for the different zones?”
During one lesson (which I did not write about here) the students acted out situations where kids used strategies in the different zones. This learning experience was too difficult for the students this early in the school year. Students had trouble focusing on one another’s performances and I was not sure if they understood what they had seen. (I did not check for comprehension since the kids were so wiggly!) Creating the books seemed to be a more appropriate experience at this point in the school year.
After recess one day, a child was upset and I modelled referring to her book to remember and try the blue zone strategies she had identified. Hopefully the strategies will prove useful over the course of the year.