Have you seen it in your classroom? One moment everyone is on task and working, and then a chair flies across the room. You think, “What the heck just happened?”. What you might have not noticed was one of your little friends couldn’t figure out what to do and frustration took over in a terrible way. Sucks for him because now he is going to the office or missing his recess, when in reality, maybe there was something that could have been done BEFORE frustration level hit. I’m certainly not blaming the teacher. We get blamed for far too much, but I do want to share what has kept the chairs from flying in my classroom. Seriously, it has worked amazingly!!!!
Meet The Cool Down Corner
This little space is an area where students come BEFORE they have a meltdown, throw a chair, lose their mind, etc. This is NOT a place for them to take a time out or go when they are in trouble. Here’s why… this is an area to reward them for stopping when their heart began beating faster, their adrenaline was taking over, and their blood was boiling. They either asked for a break (BRAVO!!!) or you asked them to go and take a break (BRAVO to the teacher for noticing). We do not want this place to be viewed as a reward for bad behavior or else kids will misbehave so that they can go to the “Cool Down Corner”. We do not want to reinforce or encourage negative behavior!!! We want to reward good choices for noticing when their anger or frustration is about to explode and they take control of it.
What materials do your students enjoy when they earn a reward for good behavior? Legos? Play-doh? These are a few of the type items that you want to have available in the Cool Down Corner. Here’s what I currently have in mine…
- Small Table
- Two Stools
- Rotating Peg Board with Hooks to hold items
- Visual Timer with Green and Red Light
- Water Beads
- Water Bead Tools for Fine Motor
- Sight Word Sentences
- Number Cards
- Phonics Word Cards
I chose to add a few academic items into the station so that if a mentor walks by and sees their student in this corner, they can pull some academic activities to do with the student. Or if a student really loves math, they can make their own math equations as they are cooling off so they feel successful again before re-entering the classroom. Click here to shop on Amazon for the suggested materials.
Location, Location, Location
This is probably the most important component of the Cool Down Corner. You don’t want the Cool Down Corner to be located in an area of your classroom where the student is going to get a lot of extra attention. Think about it, if the function of their behavior is to get peer or teacher attention, they are still going to try to get the attention of others in this spot as well. They might toss Legos, sing, shout, or fall on the floor to try and get the class to laugh. Have this spot located in a place where they have very little interaction with other people. My Cool Down Corner is tucked away outside my classroom beside my door and in front of my door windows. I leave the door open so I can hear the timer, but the student isn’t visible with the door open to see their peers. The only interaction the child gets is when a class is taking a restroom break or if their mentor happens to pass by. PLEASE check with your administrator before you place a Cool Down Corner outside your room since so many schools have locked door policies. Mine does as well, but with the door open the student can quickly re-enter the room, if necessary.
Other Strategies and Suggestions
- Collaborate as a grade level to have this area used by all students if it is in a location convenient and separate from the classroom.
- Teach the frequent visitors a routine. They set the timer, get out their materials, and cool down. Then, when the timer goes off, they turn the timer off, put up their materials, return the stool to the right spot, and then return to class.
- Some student need more time than others, but that is just for you and the student to know. The whole class doesn’t need to know that Meghan gets 15 minutes and Nate gets 5 minutes. Keep this information confidential so that it doesn’t become a competition to see who gets the most time in the Cool Down Corner.
What advice do you have? Do you already have a Cool Down Corner? Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below! I can’t wait to read them!