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April 4, 2014 Four Simple Ways to Tame Spring Fever By Christy Crawford
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Spring has sprung! Take some time to implement these four simple steps into your class routine that will calm anxious test takers or cooped-up kids.



    1. Breathe

    Rosey Espinal and Marie Elaina Zuccaro's kindergarten classroom is eerily calm. What's their secret? Fine-tuned breathing techniques! Review their video, appropriate for all ages, with your class. You'll also see breathing techniques (including pebble meditation) from fourth-grade Zen masters, Susan Whitaker and John Burnstein.


    2. Create a Peaceful Corner

    Zuccaro and Espinal suggest filling a classroom corner with sensory items (bean bags, pillows, relaxation bottles full of sparkly goo, textured balls, or squeeze toys) and books on feelings that will calm ruffled souls. Check out Zuccaro's links below to create the ultimate peace corner kits.


    Relaxation Bottles

    I Spy Bottles

    Calm Down Box and Calm Down Kit

    Peace Corner


    Consider including lots of crayons and poster paper in your peace corner for a "knuckle crayon calmer." Have students put bright-colored crayons between each of their knuckles and draw or spin the wax in a circular motion to produce a tension-releasing masterpiece. Check out the video above to see my first and third graders demonstrating the "Knuckle Crayon Calmer."

    If you can, convince an administrator to permit staff to create these kits during a professional development session. Stressed-out educators may find that process (making and testing the kits) relaxing.

    Educators Whitaker and Burnstein suggest a "Movement Break Station" outside the classroom for older students. When they are finished, students return ready to focus. Whitaker and Burnstein adorned their station with suggestions for yoga poses, wall push up mats, and fun, finger mazes. For more movement activities, check out Genia Connell's post "Help for Your Fidgety Students."


    3. Talk It Out

    Warm weather gives rise to arguments inside the classroom and on the playground. Give your students a structure to handle tense situations. Whitaker and Burnstein have mapped out the following seven steps for a "Peace Talk." Peace Talks loaded with "I statements" are great for students of any age.  


    A. Calm down/cool off BEFORE a peace talk. (For example, try the Movement Break Station.)


    BReview the rules.

    *Stay calm — calm face, body, and voice.

    *Stay respectful.

    *Work diligently to solve the conflict.


    C. When person one talks:

    "I felt _________ when _____________."

    Person two actively listens without interrupting.


    DPerson two repeats back:

    "You felt ______when _____________."


    ETake turns talking. Continue repeating back and listening without interrupting. Figure out what the problem was.


    F. Make a plan for next time.

    "Next time, I will _________________."


    G. Shake hands.



    4. Go Outside

    You can work on the Common Core State Standards outside, too! Have students read and write poetry while barefoot in a grassy field or park, take a field trip to a local supermarket bringing along dry erase markers and wipe boards for mini-math lessons, or explore a hands-on science or history museum.


    What's your secret to surviving "spring fever"?


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