Creating a Break Bin or Calm Down Area in the Classroom

Do you have a Break Bin or a Calm Down area in your classroom?  I've always had a random basket of items that I've gathered quickly for different students but this past year I finally put a designated  break bin together.
create a break bin or a calm down area in your classroom to help students avoid meltdowns.

So what is a Calm Down area or a Break Box/Bin? A calm down area is a designated space in your classroom for students to go while they are having a difficult time.  It can be as big or as little as you need/want.  The items in it can range from a chair, a bath ma/small rug, pillows a basket of sensory object, books, coloring, anything that takes the student's mind off the situation that got him there in the first place. A Break Box/Bin can be used if you don't have a designated space.  It is what I had last year.  It was filled with items that the student could take to a quiet part of the room and have their quiet space from the rest of the class.  Sometimes it was at a table, other times it was on our back rug,  rug, often the student would choose.  Letting the child choose also helped the situation.

Last year, I had a student who desperately needed breaks. He actually started the day with a break before joining the rest of the class with morning routines.  My basket was simple as most items I picked up from Amazon.  The item links you will find included below, other items from the Dollar Tree.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  The commission is used to purchase additional resources for my students.

Theraputty- my kids loved this.  This is the same stuff my hand therapist gives me.  It is a great texture and they are strengthening their little fingers at the same time.


Liquid Motion Bubbler- The kids love sitting there and watching this and it has a very calming and relaxing  affect.


Stringing Balls- I have something similar to this in my basket that I bought from the Target Dollar Spot several years ago.  I just wanted to show you what it was.


Hair Benders- This idea came from our OT.  I buy these from our Dollar Tree- but again wanted to show you what I'm talking about.  Basically they just twist and bend them

Tangle- This is something I bought for one of my students a few years back.  This was something she would choose to do when she needed a break.

Freddy's Fidgets-I have to mention these although they aren't in my box I have used these with my ADHD kids on the carpet.  They are on my shopping list for back-to-school.  I've even heard of adults using them while they are watching TV to keep from biting nails.  Have you played with them- they are fun.

If you would like more ideas for a calm down area or break bin, you can see what I have over on my Amazon Store front.  I've searched Amazon for the best deals.  Of course, you can always take these ideas and run to Target or wherever you shop. One item in particular is the tent.  I've searched Amazon and I've read far too many reviews.  The one from IKEA is probably your best bet.  My coworker uses a tent in her classroom, her students actually go in there on their own- they say " I need a minute" they go in, they calm down, and come out when they are ready.  No one can see them have their meltdown.   It is genius, and she teaches TK.  


How Do We Use These:
Every student and situation is unique.  I had a student who started each day with the break bin and a timer set for 5-8 minutes.  I would assess him as he came through my door to determine how much time I thought he might need.  The break bin was then used throughout the day for him to return to as he completed work as bonus time as he enjoyed some of the items in it. Other times I would ask him to take a break.  Other students would use it if they needed it, but last year it was really only for one student.

In years past my bins as I said before had different items in them, I would find things that fit my particular students needs and interest.  Legos and linker cubes were all the bin had one year because that is what my student needed.  He would stack them over and over again.  It made him calm, and calm meant quiet and by quiet I mean the rest of the class could work.  Then when he was ready, I'd invite him back over and slowly he'd join us again.

One year I had a student who loved to touch things that were soft. So I got a piece of fluffy fabric for him to hold.  If you have students like this you can also put adhesive velcro under your tables so while you are talking they can run their fingers back and forth on the soft side or the scratchy side. 

Another student didn't like to sit on the large carpet with everyone, he actually did this himself, he pulled my sink rug over next to the big rug so he could still join in.  I loved that at aged 5 he solved his own problem.  It was just another signal for me to know there was much more going on with this little one.

Most importantly- take the cues from your kids, not all kids respond to the same things.  What works for one won't work for all.  

I hope you find something here useful.  Do you have a calm-down area or a break bin.  I'd love to know what you have in it.  I'm always looking to add new ideas.  Drop me a comment. 
create a break bin or calm down area in your classroom to help avoid meltdowns before they occur.


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