My Calming Toolbox

Empower students with strategies to manage anxiety, frustration, and other emotions.
Ages 8-10 / 60+
min Activity
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  • Try different mindfulness techniques like grounding, developing personal resources, and deep breathing exercises 
  • Create a personalized toolbox of strategies to navigate strong emotions and feel more focused

Supporting Research

According to researchers, it is crucial that students are able to identify and regulate their emotions, as this ability is positively associated with academic success and productivity, mental well-being, and healthy relationship-building. This activity fosters students’ mindfulness and self-care skills as they identify helpful strategies for navigating strong emotions. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Activity Partners

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  1. Introduce the activity by explaining: “Today, we’re going to start working on our “Calming Toolbox''. This toolbox will contain strategies that help us manage our emotions, like when we are feeling a bit anxious or a little too excited! Everyone will create their own toolbox filled with strategies that foster feelings of calm and peace.” 
  2. Over the next week, set aside 10-15 minutes every day to try a mindfulness practice together. For example, engage students in the following Empatico activities: 
    Mindful Observation Exercise 
    Body Scan Meditation 
    Breathing with Animal Arms 
    Developing Personal Resources 
    Mindful Walking 
    Grounding Like a Tree
    Reset Now! Strategies 

    Encourage students to also suggest their own ideas for mindfulness practices, like listening to music or talking to a friend, and try those out too! 
  3. After each practice, students should write down their reflections on the experience. For example, they might: 
    • Give the mindfulness practice an overall rating between 1-5 stars. 
    • Share how the practice made them feel, and whether they felt more peaceful and focused afterwards.
    • Describe how they might change the practice to be more helpful for them in the future.
  4. Once students have tried a variety of mindfulness practices, help them build their toolbox! 

    Younger students can use this template to add their three favorite strategies, and describe when each strategy might be the most helpful for them (e.g., when they are feeling nervous before a test). 

    Older students might create a set of flashcards with words and symbols representing each strategy.

    Encourage students to also think about strategies that could be helpful when they are arguing with someone, and feel frustrated or overwhelmed. For example, students might take a moment to notice any sensations in their body and assess their feelings, and take deep breaths before speaking.
  5. Next, invite students to share their toolboxes with each other, and engage them in a discussion by asking the following questions: 
    • What was a mindfulness practice that you enjoyed or found particularly helpful? 
    • Did you notice any similarities or differences between our toolboxes? 
    • Did any of our toolboxes look the same? Why does each person have their own toolbox that is unique to them? 
  6. Finally, ask students to find a special place to store their “Calming Toolbox”, like their backpack or desk, so they can easily access it whenever they need it. 

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.