Teach self-regulation lessons and calm down strategies with five fantastic children’s books for the classroom or home library, plus activities, anchor charts, and writing prompts to go with them.
Teach Self-Regulation Using Children’s Books
It’s a dream to have a classroom with children who are equally eager to learn, have the tools to learn and come with a healthy dose of self-regulation skills.
Yet, this is typically not the reality!
Kids have different needs. They may struggle with managing their emotions, completing their work, and being calm classroom members.
In addition to teaching academics, it is our responsibility to foster and develop social and emotional skills. We can teach self-regulation to help kids meet emotional goals, which will support them in meeting academic goals as well.
It becomes obvious how vital self-regulation is for a child in a classroom with other children. Those skills help guide our relationships with others, and they facilitate or deter our ability to achieve academically. Studies show that self-regulation leads to success in language and literacy development.
Self-Regulation Lessons and Activities
Knowing its importance, here are helpful self-regulation lessons you can quickly implement in your K-2 classroom.
Breathing – Controlling the breath and learning deep breathing techniques are great ways for kids to tune into their feelings. They can be good at calming a child who is seemingly out of control. Balloon breathing is an effective technique to use.
Nature – Being outside can help students feel calmer. Taking breaks from a busy environment can allow children to self-regulate and manage unsettled feelings.
Brain Breaks – Encourage movement and give kids a break from learning with brain break activities. They help kids transition between tasks, so they are ready to concentrate fully on the next task.
Check-Ins – You can use a feelings chart to help students “check-in” with how they feel about situations or in general.
Find additional mindfulness activities for kids here.
5 Books That Teach Self-Regulation
Children’s books are powerful tools for teaching SEL topics in the classroom. Books that help teach self-regulation to make valuable contributions to your bookshelf and read-aloud time.
1. My Magic Breath
My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner helps kids find ways to calm down and focus on breathing. Kids will learn that taking a “magic breath” allows them to control their emotions. Use this book to encourage kids to think about their breath and use it as a tool to calm down.
Lesson Idea: This self-regulation book is perfect for breathing exercises. As you read the story, stop and have children participate in taking breaths, using the story as your guide. Use visuals to teach children different breathing strategies, and hang them for reference.
Writing Idea: Use the writing prompt “Breathing helps me…” to facilitate students making the connection between the things taught in the book and their own lives. How can breathing help them?
Activities to Use with My Magic Breath:
- My Breathing Book – Kids can make their own breathing storybook to read as a reminder of when and where to use deep breathing in their day-to-day life.
- Breathing Art – This book offers an opportunity to create beautiful art to match one’s breathing and the cover artwork. Use watercolor paints and short colorful strokes to express the movement of our breath.
2. Listening to My Body
By reading Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia, students will learn about sensations and connections between feelings and their bodies. His book helps kids build the vocabulary to know what they are feeling.
Lesson Idea: After reading the story, discuss the “Let’s practice” ideas at the bottom of the pages in the book. Create an anchor chart and brainstorm the sensations we may experience with certain feelings.
Writing Idea: Encourage kids to focus on and write about the sensations in the body with the prompt, “My body tells me…”
Activities to Use with Listening to my Body:
- Calm Down Journal – Help kids find ways to calm down through journaling. Challenge them to identify how they feel and what they can do about those feelings.
- Board Game – Use the ‘Share a Sensation’ board game to help kids identify sensations and feelings that they experience.
3. The Rabbit Listened
The book The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld sweetly demonstrates how listening and showing empathy can help someone who has experienced something unpleasant. It challenges kids to show compassion to people around them.
Lesson Idea: As you read the story, ask children to give a “thumbs up” response when they can relate to it. Encourage them to share their connections. Discuss the animals’ ways of helping and whether or not it was beneficial.
Writing Idea: Kids can answer the question “Sometimes I need…” during writing time, which can lead to a deeper level of thinking about their own needs and the needs of others.
Activity to use with The Rabbit Listened:
- Scenario Cards – For kids to develop empathy, they need to be able to put themselves into a situation and anticipate how someone might feel. Using scenario cards, kids will read them and then answer what they would do or how they would feel in each situation.
4. I Am Yoga
This book about movement is a great way to introduce kids to yoga. Am Yoga by Susan Verde provides lessons on the power of creativity and self-expression.
Lesson Idea: Yoga is an excellent tool for helping kids become more aware of their bodies, emotions, and reactions. Use visual posters and have children attempt different basic yoga poses. Use the practice to discuss how their body and mind feel after. Ask them, “When do you think yoga could help you?”
Writing Idea: After learning and practicing yoga poses, complete a writing activity “Yoga helps me…” or “My favorite yoga pose is…”
Activities to use with I am Yoga
- “I can” Posters – These fun posters show kids the names of various yoga poses and describes how to do them. It would be great to hand them out and have kids take turns leading the class in their given pose.
- Pose of the Day – Each day, teach a new pose or select a student to lead the “pose of the day” for the class.
5. Charlotte and the Quiet Place
Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin is a book about a little girl who needs an escape from a noisy world. Often kids’ worlds are so busy and overs-stimulating that they need a quiet place to go. This book explores that concept. This is an essential thing for kids to learn to do.
Lesson Idea: Brainstorm as a class and record different noises that one could encounter each day. Write them on a collaborative anchor chart. Come up with strategies about handling the noise in our lives and finding a quiet place, listening to music, closing our eyes, etc.
Writing Idea: Have children write about their own “quiet place.” Have them imagine a place they can go to find quiet and calm in their lives. Then, let them describe and draw it.
Activities to use with Charlotte and the Quiet Place
- Heart Map – Create a heart map of places that each student loves. Fill empty sections with a drawing of a calm place that the child can go to for quiet.
- My Quiet Journal – Provide a quiet time and space for kids to write in a journal. This teaches them to be comfortable being alone with their thoughts and gives them an outlet for pent up emotions.
Self-Regulation Books for Kids
There are many ways you can help your students develop self-regulation skills in the classroom. We all know how important this is skill is for success in and out of the classroom. Why not start putting into practice TODAY the ideas mentioned here?
Calm Corner Classroom Kit
Get this FREE resource now to help you incorporate more SEL in your classroom! You will get ideas for different breathing strategies, a calm down journal, feelings check-in sheets, and posters for creating a calm down area in your space.
Click the image below to get your copy!
Self-Regulation Book Companions
Find activities for each of the five children’s books featured in this post in our Self-Regulation Book Companion pack for K-2. You will have everything you need to lead informative lessons that support students as they practice and build self-regulation skills.
Check out this comprehensive resource’s writing prompts, journals, games, posters, and activities.
MORE Ideas for Teaching Self-Regulation
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