Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Zones of Regulation

Zones of Regulation, how I love thee :) This concept was created through the incredible Social Thinking group, run by Speech Pathologists. They create resources for kiddos to assist in making behavior and social concepts more accessible to our unique learners. Their vocabulary and phrasing is SO concrete and helpful for students. I love their materials - but Zones of Regulation happens to me my favorite!!

Today I am going to share how I use Zones in my classroom, using my Zones of Regulation Toolkit. First, I introduced the zones using these full page sheets with the corresponding emotions.
I have students talk about times when they have been in each zone, and what kinds of behaviors they had. NOTE: only complete the TEACHING of Zones activities when your students are at their baseline!! Teaching should not occur when kiddos are in any zone except green - it just won't work any other way!

After we talk about the zones, we complete these worksheets for a few days. These can be done in stations, pairs, or whole group. I personally do these together with the kids using our document camera. 

I have them use crayons to color in the specific zones, etc. It makes it more interactive, fun, and helps drive home the concepts.

The next steps that we use are figuring out WHAT they can do when they experience the red, yellow, or blue zone so that they can get back to the green zone. We do a LOT of modeling for this stage, and you'll see that your students comprehend the strategies at different rates. At the end of October, I still have 2 students that I work with on strategies on a daily basis, because they are struggling to generalize. Baby steps! This also needs to be differentiated based on what resources you have in your classroom/school. For instance, if you have a sensory room, you may add that as a resource students can use when they are in a certain zone. For the resources I listed in the product, I made them pretty general, as I think every school probably has access to these resources. 

Do you use Zones of Regulation in your classroom? How do YOU use it? 

And... a freebie through the month for you awesome readers: Zones of Regulation File Folder Set! YAY! I absolutely LOVE these and I know you will, too. The price will go up on November 1! Don't forget to leave feedback, and tag me in some instagram pics! :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Using Picture Rings as a Behavior Incentive

Last week I posted an Instagram Story (are you following me? @_missbehavior) showing our class' picture rings, and I got tons of questions about them.

Honestly, they're pretty simple! I use a standard binder ring, a hole punch, and my trusty laminator. I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis that my current school has unlimited copies and a wonderful color printer. In years past I have not had this luxury and have relied on crowd funding sites like DonorsChoose. 

I think the most powerful part of these picture rings is student choice. When I have a spare moment (typically during free time), I have students come to my laptop with me and we find pictures they choose on Google Images. I've had kiddos pick pictures of Ninjago, Hello Kitty, skateboarding, Loud House, sticky hands (those horrible gummy toys in the shape of hands - haha!), and more. I print them, laminate them, cut them out, and hole punch them in the corner.

When do I hand them out? I choose times during the day when my students typically struggle. Transitions are huge (obviously - what sped class doesn't struggle with transitions?!), a subject that students strongly dislike, etc. I let them know that they can choose a picture for their picture ring after _______ happens. This has been such a motivator for my class. I also let them look through the picture rings during the day. Many of my students want to cut paper, color pictures, play with toys, etc. during instruction, which I have found SO distracting. The picture rings have been a happy medium for us - they're not too distracting. 

Something to note on how I personally use the picture rings, is that I never take the pictures OFF of their rings. If they show negative behaviors, it's worthy of a conversation - but I do not want to negate any positive behaviors that they showed previously that allowed them to earn the picture in the first place. This, I have found, has been really important for my ED class. 

Think your kids wouldn't be super motivated by pictures? I have thought about QR codes on a ring that lead to videos or websites that the students can access on iPads or computers (though I personally wouldn't love my students having those out during instruction time), or earning puzzles or coloring pages in a folder.

What do you think? Could picture rings be useful in your classroom? 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Breathing, Yoga, and Calmness in the Special Education Classroom

Classroom calmness is NOT easy to cultivate, but it's possible. Here's a few ideas and resources that have worked for me, thus far, in my self contained ED classroom.


Yoga has been the beginning of my journey in creating a calm classroom. I LOVE teaching yoga to the kiddos. It's a great brain break, helps with self control, and teaches so many skills that can be hard to target in other capacities. When I teach yoga, I personally do not use yoga videos. I find that following a person's movements (whether it's you, a gym teacher, or an outside instructor) is way more beneficial than having the students follow a screen. They need the immediate feedback and ability to modify that a live instructor can offer and a video cannot.

You don't need mats, but I have found that they do help with boundaries. I created a DonorsChoose project to obtain yoga mats for my classroom a few years ago. Another idea is to ask students to bring in a beach towel, or you can grab them at a Dollar Tree or 5 Below when in season.

For the littles, I love using fun, creative poses with cute names. It helps with buy in, and makes it more kid-friendly. I use the big print outs of poses from my yoga and exercise bundle and make them into a schedule. The students can view the clip art kid making the pose and follow me.

For bigger kids, it might be fun to use actual pose names. It's more age appropriate and would allow for easier generalization if the student were to actually attend a yoga class at a gym or studio. You could have the class watch a video clip of the pose, followed by you modeling for them, and the class doing the pose together.


Breathing has been such a huge, important piece to our calmness in class. We do breathing exercises throughout the day as needed. Somedays we take breathing breaks 10x a day, and I am not kidding. We typically use the breathing exercises from my Yoga, Exercise, and Breathing product. I love how they are fun and creative for little ones. To TEACH breathing strategies, I use Lazy 8 Breathing. I use Zones of Regulation in my class, and have modified their "Lazy 8" structured breathing method. Each of my students has a laminated print out from my Zones of Regulation Pack and we do this together in whole group. This way, students understand what Lazy 8 Breathing is if they need to use it independently.

For other individual breathing strategies, I use the breathing visual from Melissa Finch's Calm Down Kit. This gives a super structured breathing "schedule".

What do you use in your classroom to teach calmness?