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April 7, 2011

Relaxation Techniques for Students and Teachers

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X Relaxation Techniques for the Classroom

Relaxation Techniques for the Classroom

The end of the year is filled with a lot of pressure and stress for both students and teachers alike.  Between testing and report cards, to uncertainty about next year, the stress can build up.  As all really good teachers know, the key to teaching students is to give them the tools to do things on their own.  In the case of stress management, those tools include relaxation strategies that they can carry with them for years to come.  Try some of the ideas below to help your students channel their stress and cope effectively with pressures both in and out of school.

Relaxation Techniques for the Classroom

Stress Balls

Whether you use play doh or a squishy ball, giving students something to manipulate with their hands while listening to a story or trying to relax can be very helpful.  It helps them channel their nervous energy into a physical outlet without causing a lot of distraction.  When introducing the balls to the students, be sure to emphasize that they should remain in contact with their hands at all times.

Yoga

Yoga is traditionally seen as an adult exercise and relaxation routine, but it is also beneficial for children.  Teach your students some simple yoga poses that help them calm their minds and focus inwards.  This is a great way to break up afternoon stress or get them ready and focused before a test.

Drawing

Sometimes all students need is a chance to draw and color their emotions.  Have designated “Relaxation Art Journals” and encourage students to draw, color, or write in them during a designated time in the daily schedule.  Play soothing music and set a gentle timer to let students know when relaxation time is over.

Head to Toe

Progressive body relaxation is perfect for helping students relax.  If possible, have them stretch out on the floor and guide them through relaxing their bodies using verbal cues.  Start with the head and neck and move all the way to the toes.  If students cannot stretch out on the floor, have them sit at their desks with their heads down as you go through the exercise.

Helping students relax and teaching them how to relieve their stress is just as important as any of the basic skills in the curriculum.  Equip your students with relaxation techniques that will benefit them in your classroom, as well as throughout life.  It can make a significant difference in how they handle life’s stresses.

 

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  • Julie Montgomery
    October 31, 2011

    Love the “destressors” We all need time to relax. The drawing journal is my favorite. I love to draw as a Kindergarten teacher and it would be great to instill that love in the students as well

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  • Jackie
    August 14, 2011

    Drawing notebooks-Kids love to just have a chance to draw. What a great idea to use to also help them relax! I also like the idea of playdough or clay as another stress reliever. And the tip about it must not leave their hands…bravo!

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  • Lori Archer
    April 9, 2011

    Play-doh, splatter painting, and digging are the ways that my kids relax.

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  • Christine
    April 9, 2011

    Thanks for the tips! I can’t wait to try more of these ideas in the resource room. We have a sound machine for relaxing background noise – these ideas will add to the atmosphere now!

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  • Laura
    April 9, 2011

    I love the idea of giving them just a little bit of time to draw each day. I started out the year with “quiet choice” time after lunch each day, but as the to-do list lengthened I cut it out of our day. My kids are definitely showing me they need that time back.

    I’m glad you posted the picture of the drawing book. That would make this time easier to get started and to clean up after. Loose sheets were such a pain to keep stocked and from cluttering up the inside of their desks.

    Thanks for the ideas!

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  • JWagner
    April 9, 2011

    We do Yoga breathing before a test. Kids love when we rid our lungs of the dirty air with ONE BIG “HUHHHH”!

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  • Lisa
    April 9, 2011

    please keep these relaxation ideas coming. i need them as much as the students.

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  • Tara Lorson
    April 9, 2011

    I actually utilize 3 out of the 4 of these techniques in my classroom already which is nice for me to read. I have a student with anger issues in my class and I acquired the services of a yoga instructor to come once a week to do yoga with my class. They love it! I can attest that it does make a difference in the students’ behavior as well as the overall classroom feeling. We can all use a little stress relief-young and old!

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  • Amber J
    April 9, 2011

    I’ve never considered yoga with my kids- it’s one of my preferred de-stressers for myself. I’ll look into it as a way to help my kids relax also, especially with testing coming up!

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  • Cynthia Parello
    April 9, 2011

    I agree that exercise is relaxing. We are preparing for our standardized tests. During test taking time, the students are very anxious and tense. In between test taking sessions we have short exercise activities. The students relax, move around and release some of their tension through the various exercises. However, a quick exercise is always welcoming to students in between lessons or any time during the day when a short break is needed.

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  • Tara Robinson
    April 8, 2011

    I love the idea of keeping their hands busy. I think I might try the idea with the play doh next year and challenge the students to create a model of a vocab word or words that can be displayed. It would be a great quiet activity for them to do at their desk after they have finished seat work and at the same time be educational and fun.

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  • Debbi C
    April 8, 2011

    Great ideas…I used one that was very simple, no equipment required…Breathing. A health guru in AZ, taught a group years ago that just three deep breaths can make a HUGE difference in calming the body and mind. In to a count of ten, hold it, and out to a count of ten. Do it three times and you’ll be amazed at the difference.

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  • Dawn
    April 8, 2011

    At this busy time of year, we can all use some relaxation! I have several energy things I do with the students but love the ideas of yoga, drawing, and progressive relaxation. I would love to win the chimes as I know exactly how I would use them. Thank you for once again providing a wonderful and informative article!

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  • Beth
    April 8, 2011

    Beautiful to see. Hope to hear it’s sound.

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  • Keita
    April 8, 2011

    Love these. What a calming way to keep attention.

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  • Susan
    April 7, 2011

    I love the ideas on this article! I have used the stress balls with my ADHD students and students with Autism. It is a great way to have them pay attention when we are doing whole group activities on the carpet. Since I teach at a school with a high population of special needs students, the chime would be a great addition to my classroom. The more quiet soothing sound would work so much better than the alternatives!!

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  • Amber
    April 7, 2011

    This is great timing as we are beginning our State testing on Monday! I need to get a stress ball. Thanks!!

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  • Mandi
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of teaching them yoga moves! What a great way to break up the day when they’re getting restless. 🙂

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  • Denisse Christensen
    April 7, 2011

    I have several stress balls, and soft “squeezie” things sitting on the corner of my desk that my 2nd and 3rd grade students can go back and squeeze whenever they feel stressed or upset about something. It is amazing how many times they are used after recess because of problems with friends.

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  • Jeanette
    April 7, 2011

    I love doing a quick yoga break with kids to refocus them. I also give stress balls to certain kids–not just for anxious ones–but also for kids who need a “fidget” while listening.

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  • Teri
    April 7, 2011

    I think it is important to remember how our (adults) stress transfers easily to children. Thanks for offering strategies for both kids and adults.

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  • Becky Hansen
    April 7, 2011

    I play classical music to relax the kids while they work.They ask for it if I forget. I also have them close their eyes for a minute to turn down overactive energy in the room. It brings a nice calm almost instantly.

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  • Debbie Danielson
    April 7, 2011

    Plan on using the stress ball idea! I use clay right now, but like the idea of not having any residue left over on the desks. 🙂

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  • Lisa Evans
    April 7, 2011

    I will have my kindergarteners “pretend to be balloons”. We inhale deeply and pretend that we are filling ourselves up with air, just like a big balloon. I have them hold their breaths for a second, then they “let the air out of the balloon” while exhaling. We repeat this several times. They enjoy the visual of the balloons, and the deep breaths help them to calm themselves.

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  • Melinda Holbrook
    April 7, 2011

    I use teddy bear yoga with my students for 10 minutes each day. My students slow down their breathing, stretch and calm down. It is a moment of zen:) Even my squirmiest love it and stop to breath for a moment.

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  • Pam Y
    April 7, 2011

    May have to try some of these techniques tomorrow. I am in a long term sub position for first grade. They are so wound up and ready for spring break in two weeks.

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  • Maureen
    April 7, 2011

    I play “quiet working music” for my first graders when they need to unwind a bit and settle down. I’ll play the same relaxation CD for a while and it kind of conditions them to relax!

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  • Crystal F.
    April 7, 2011

    I love the ideas. We are on spring break right now, so I plan to try the play dough/stress balls when we go back. I like the drawing journal too. Thanks for the great ideas.

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  • Tracy Augustine
    April 7, 2011

    I love the yoga idea! I read the book “A Listening Walk” and throughout the year, we will stop what we’re doing, close our eyes and listen to what’s going on around us. This allows the children a quiet break in an otherwise busy day. I have used this idea successfully in grades ranging from 5 to 1. A quiet moment in the day, even if only a brief one, can make all the difference. : )

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  • Amy Payne
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of playing relaxing music while drawing to unwind. I think that would be a great way for my kids to end the day. 🙂

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  • Colleen
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of using yoga in the classroom. I have special education students and I think relaxation tools like the zen chimes and stress balls would be a great way to relieve the frustration I see in the students each day.

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  • Nicole Baldwin
    April 7, 2011

    I’ve done yoga poses with my students during breaks in our state standardized testing. It gets their brains working again and also calms them down. They always love it and I love how quiet it gets!

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  • Jennifer M
    April 7, 2011

    I just discovered how well Model Magic can work as a stressball! I was helping my daughter with making a brain for her nervous system project for school. Squishing the less sticky than playdough substance in our hands while laughing at our creations was a great way to forget the stress of the work day.

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  • Lorna Trindade
    April 7, 2011

    Relaxation… Aaahhhhh… That’s exactly what we need! 24 5 year olds and myself are in desperate need to unwind a little!

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  • Ginny
    April 7, 2011

    For me, I have discovered that listening to music they love (first grade….I like to move it from Madagascar is the current fave) and following it up with a slow song to bring them back down, really seems to help relieve their stress as well as mine.

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  • Kris
    April 7, 2011

    I also love the drawing idea. I think the inclusion of art time is important but with the hectic work day schedule, it seems like it only gets to be an occasional treat. But considering it’s importance as a de-stressing tool, it definitely makes me want to work time into our schedule for drawing.
    I also like the stretching ideas. When I read these it actually reminded me of some techniques my sixth grade teacher would lead us through, for both mind and body relaxation. Thank you!

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  • Sharon Fadale
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of stress balls. I use lots of occupational therapy items in my classroom – seat wedges and cushions and cool stuff like that. Another thing that I’ve seen used that I’d like to try is yoga balls. Has anyone tried them before?

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  • Tabitha
    April 7, 2011

    I am not a teacher, but a school counselor… and I love using relaxation techniques. It is a great tool for kids with high anxiety, stress, even just overwhelming everyday feelings. It is also just plain important for everyone- life is just plain stressful! Thanks for all of these ideas and passing on the importance of them!

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  • Melissa
    April 7, 2011

    When I observe my kindergarten students getting on each other’s nerves or becoming antsy, I turn to music and movement to help soothe and redirect. All kids sit on the rug and I show them how to silently take deep breaths while hearing some soft music. They kids take deep breaths in and then slowly out. Once that’s done a few times, we then roll our heads in large, slow circles. We roll our shoulders and try to loosen up. Once this routine is over everyone is instantly more relaxed and focused. I would love to have the addition of the Zen chime to further promote peace and tranquility in the class!

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  • Tracey Morton
    April 7, 2011

    I really love using chimes in my room. It is a great way to calmly get the attention of the kids.

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  • Tammy
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of drawing. I myself find coloring to soft music very relaxing.

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  • Sherry C.
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of the drawing journals… We usually do reflective writing at the end of a schoolday. It makes for such an easier, calm dismissal! I imagine the drawing would be wonderful for a midday break.

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  • Jennifer
    April 7, 2011

    A great reminder that the kids feel the stress as much as the teachers do. Thanks!

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  • Barbara G.
    April 7, 2011

    I just got The Kids Yoga Book of Feelings from Scholastic – here’s a simple synopsis from the publisher:

    About This Book

    Yoga is an art that emphasizes a calm, happy state of being. Yoga helps to harmonize your feelings to achieve a more balanced way of living. Each of the poses described has an animal or familiar object linked to the feeling it expresses. In addition, there’s an affirmation about the feeling being released. For example, as you assume the pose of the polar bear, you say, “I feel balanced and grounded,” just as a polar bear stands firmly on a patch of ice. Come celebrate yoga with the kids in this book as they demonstrate twenty poses from the Butterfly to the Opossum.

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  • Stefanie Lamont
    April 7, 2011

    We’ve used the stress balls with certain kids, stretched in between classes or tasks (does that count as yoga?) but the drawing journal and head to toe relaxation is new to me. Love those ideas and will definitely recommend them to the team!

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  • Crystal Pham
    April 7, 2011

    When I have an upset Kindergarten student (especially one who misses Mommy or their dog or something), I always ask them to draw a picture for whoever they are missing. It really helps them calm down and they get their energy refocused for learning!

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  • Maura Timmerman
    April 7, 2011

    We do some deep breathing and shake off the stress slowly starting with fingers, then hands, then arms, and so on until the whole body is shaking off that unwanted stress. By the time we’re done shaking, the students have had a chance to get their whole body moving and are ready to go back to work!

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  • Marcie
    April 7, 2011

    I wish I knew yoga. It would benefit both me and my kinders.

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  • Kelly Thrower
    April 7, 2011

    It is amazing how the stress balls help some students stay calm and engage during small group rotations. FYI – another teacher borrowed one for a student who busted it – they are filled with flour and it went everywhere…. Laughter is a great stress reliever as well!

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  • Barbara Garvey
    April 7, 2011

    I usually pass around the squishy ball during Fishbowl discussions. I find it not only reminds the others in the center that the one with the ball is the only one speaking, but it all relaxes the speaker as he squeezes the ball.

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  • cindy garcia
    April 7, 2011

    I think that just stretching and walking around really help. We are in the middle of review for our standardized test in 3 weeks. I have had to teach my students to stop and just walk to get a drink of water (even if they are not thirsty) just so that they can get some movement in their bodies. I’ll have to look into the yoga.

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  • Sara Brown
    April 7, 2011

    Love the yoga idea. I’m not very good at it though so where do I find poses that I can do with the children.

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  • Amy R.
    April 7, 2011

    I currently use the idea of small toys or stress balls for some of my more active preschool students to use while sitting for longer periods of times. It is a great way to keep them focused as we are requiring them to sit for longer stretches. Thanks for the new ideas!!

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  • Paula d.
    April 7, 2011

    Great idea. I used to do some Yoga with my 2nd graders. I have not tried it with my 3rd graders. I also love the trio chimes! Such a nice peaceful way to get attention!

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  • Julie Goostree
    April 7, 2011

    A teacher I work with uses the Zenergy Trio Chime in her classroom when an activity is ending and it is time for a transition. She has a student ring it and all of the other students know that it is time to start cleaning up. It works very well and is a routine that the students now rely on.

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  • Claire Moore
    April 7, 2011

    I started “quiet time” with my 5th graders last year after dealing with a rowdy bunch arriving back in the room everyday after lunch and recess. It’s just 10 minutes of read, draw, relax, independent games, etc. Main rule: must be quiet except for emergencies. The kids and I look forward to those moments to relax our brains to prepare for the rest of the day.

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  • Maria Y
    April 7, 2011

    I think setting time aside to relax is important for both students and teachers. We get caught up in everything we need to get done, and I don’t think we always do it.

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  • Rebekah
    April 7, 2011

    I give students stress balls for those who have busy hands and need an outlet. It helps them concentrate on the story or work.

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  • Mary Lou Scalera
    April 7, 2011

    I may even have enough stress balls for the whole class. I’m going to try it and get back to you… just afraid it might be a distraction. Thanks for the ideas.

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  • Karen Greenberg
    April 7, 2011

    I can’t wait to get my own classroom and to be able to teach the students some simple yoga poses. To me, the mind/ body connection is as important as the academics we teach. I think the country would be much better off if we directly taught students how to be calm and to relax at appropriate times.

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  • Cheryl
    April 7, 2011

    I really am wanting to get the Zenergy Trio Chimes to signal the transitions in my Daily 5 Reading Block. I saw or should I say I heard them at a workshop and I instantly loved them. What a calm way to signal a change in centers. Thanks for such a wonderful product.

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  • Julie Reid
    April 7, 2011

    Thanks for the reminder. I love the idea of yoga for kids! I’m going to incorporate it more often.

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  • Melissa
    April 7, 2011

    One of my goals is to attend some yoga classes myself so that I can also engage my students in this relaxation technique. My afternoons (11:45, right after lunch until dismissal at 3:00) is challenging for many in my room. I have used the time when we return right from lunch as my read aloud time, but I feel like it’s effectiveness is wearing off.
    Yoga, here we come!

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  • Stephanie R
    April 7, 2011

    I love the drawing journal. They say that doodling can be a relaxer. I know when I’m stressed the first thing I go for is a pen or pencil and start jotting things down or drawing little pictures. I also have Yoga Cards for Kids and my students really like trying out the poses and I find that they are much more focused when we are done!

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  • Lisa
    April 7, 2011

    Love this article. Never thought of yoga that way for kids. great idea. have used the head to toe and the ball stress reliever. never used the ball idea during reading though. that is wonderful. will use them starting tomorrow. have had students use balls to improve hand strength and dexterity. thanks for all your interesting articles.

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  • Megan S.
    April 7, 2011

    We have taught our first graders yoga and it’s a great indoor recess!

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  • Edie Gath
    April 7, 2011

    We have drawing time and I have done yoga when we cannot use the gym due to other activities. I am now going to try the playdoh stress release.

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  • Shelly C.
    April 7, 2011

    Love the ideas – kiddos love the quiet moments when their “thinking/concentration” music is on. Will have to try the yoga poses!

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  • Laura Gray
    April 7, 2011

    The stress ball idea is an excellent way to help students who are wiggly or just need an external stimuli to help focus. I like the reminder that the balls must be in their hands at all times. Great positive way to say don’t throw it! 🙂

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  • Ainslie
    April 7, 2011

    The relaxation techniques seem as though they would really work! I’ll try them tomorrow in my class.

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  • Kim Davis
    April 7, 2011

    Yoga is an awesome way to chill out and focus! I just bought The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids and am working on a Donorschoose.org grant for a yoga center in my classroom!

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  • Laura N
    April 7, 2011

    I love the drawing time idea as well! My kids are in need of stress relief already. Today we spent time forming our spelling words with Play-Doh and it really seemed to help! They took the job serious and kept their hands busy and working hard! Carpet time was so much calmer after this activity! Love the ideas for stress relief!

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  • Christine B.
    April 7, 2011

    When my students return from the lunch room every day I have the room ready. They enter the room with the lights off and classical music playing. They all come in a sit at their desks and either put their heads down or draw quietly for about 5 minutes. It really helps to “re-center” them after the relative chaos in the lunch room and helps to get them ready to learn again. Some have even told me things like: “That’s my favorite music!” because I rotate through a few different CDs.

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  • Rebecca Powers
    April 7, 2011

    I use to have a zenergy chime to quiet my class and to use as a transition tool, unfortunately it was misplaced. My students use to settle right down with that. I find that other relaxation and calming techniques, even movement activities really help my kids find some peace and stress relieve from academic frustrations, social issues, and personal struggles during the day. It also allows me to take a few minutes to relax and calm down from any frustrations or stress I am feeling too. It clears my head and allows me to provide my students with a calm environment and tone/presentation in my teaching.

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  • Sandra Branco
    April 7, 2011

    I have used the chimes, and they work wonders! When my students seem a little stressed during test prep, or before lunch/at the end of the day we all DE-STRESS with the pleasant sound! We also do a meditation minute where the students listen to pleasant sounds for 5 minutes while I guide them to think pleasant thoughts. Believe it or not, my 5th graders are all engaged after a few minutes of relaxation!

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  • Laura Henager
    April 7, 2011

    I have wondered how my students would do with Yoga. I just recently purchased the ABC of Children’s Yoga. I thought with the weather getting nice, maybe we need to push the desks back and try a couple poses each day.. I think the students might even have one spiral left and a drawing journal might motivate them. I’m thinking of making it like a writing/drawing journal since they all love Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

    Thanks for the good suggestions.

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  • Kate Ahern
    April 7, 2011

    With my special needs students we work hard on learning to take deep breaths. Breathing is so important and such a “tell” that someone is in pain or stressed out.

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  • Eva Crawford
    April 7, 2011

    I often put on music when my students need some time to focus or relax.
    Another way to relax is to imagine someone cracking an egg over your head. Imagine feeling it drip down your head and body while pushing the stress down and out your feet. Students can “crack” the imaginary egg over a friends head.

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  • Cindy Moses
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of relaxation techniques for students. Yoga, drawing, and stress balls would be an excellent way to prepare students to deal with testing anxiety. My students already love to draw, listen to music, and get up out of their seats. I will definitely be trying some of these techniques in my classroom. Thanks Really Good Stuff for the ideas!

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  • Jennifer
    April 7, 2011

    I love the idea of making stress balls with play dough…even if you don’t have play dough on hand, it is easy to make!! Great new ideas…useful throughout the year, but they might make the end of the year a little less stressful too!

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  • Kate Giella
    April 7, 2011

    I love the journal idea for my class. I teach them how to take deep breaths with some yoga techniques, but I’m excited to try the journal too. Thanks!

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  • Lauren M
    April 7, 2011

    It is great that you discuss stress in this article, but these techniques are also used for sensory issues among children with sensory processing disorder

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  • Laura Gore
    April 7, 2011

    These are wonderful ideas. I have used a metronome in my classroom to help calm a student who was stimming. These are also great ideas for parents to use for their own children. I am a parent to a child who has asperger’s and we often use stress balls or slinky’s to help calm and focus him.

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  • Monique Hite
    April 7, 2011

    I have my students take “Brain Breaks” and listen to smooth jazz. We also take hand massage breaks. I give the Bath and Body type lotion. They rub the lotion in and massage their hands. There is quiet music,a lovely scent and calm Kindergartens…what could be better!

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  • Lauren M
    April 7, 2011

    It is great that you discuss stress in this article, but these techniques are also used for sensory issues among children with sensory processing disorder.

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  • Brenda
    April 7, 2011

    I often have the students take deep cleasing breaths to help the students relax, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Thank you for some extra ideas. This is great!

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  • Cassandra
    April 7, 2011

    My kindergarteners and I could really use this right now! We are all kinds of wound up and ready for summer vacation. 6 more wks!

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  • Amy Keane
    April 7, 2011

    I use chimes to get the students attention. I like how calming it is instead of clapping or a whistle or bell. It keeps them quieter. And we all like the sound…. 🙂

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  • Rayna
    April 7, 2011

    The ASD room where I sub uses many of these techniques. They work great!

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  • Heidi Samuelson
    April 7, 2011

    Love the idea of something to do while they’re listening to the story and the Yoga…off to find some yoga poses for first graders.
    Thanks,!

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  • Sarah C
    April 7, 2011

    I love the daily drawing time for kids. Most kids love to draw anyways, so I don’t think it would be hard to get them to oblige to doing this. I will have to find time in the daily schedule for this.

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