11 Easy Preschool Calm Down Activities Educators Love
By Patrick Flavin on 06/20/2022
The average day in the life of a preschooler is often a roller coaster of emotions. Their brains are quickly developing as they face all kinds of new situations—and the feelings that come with them—throughout their day. So much of these early developmental stages is about learning how to deal with these big feelings.
Whether you’re a parent, educator or childcare professional, new ideas for helping kids explore and process these feelings are always welcome.
One of the most important starting points in dealing with big emotions is understanding that feelings are an essential part of life. There is nothing wrong with feelings—it is how they are managed that is key.
We’re here to help with just that! We’ve compiled some of our favorite calm down ideas that will provide children with healthy and safe ways to process the emotions they experience. As a bonus, you may just find yourself incorporating some of these practices into your own life!
11 Calm down activities for preschoolers
Check out some of the best ideas we’ve found to help your child regulate their strong feelings.
1. Calm down corner
One of the best practices for a child experiencing strong feelings is having a designated space where they can go to begin sorting things out. Whether in the home or classroom, having a safe space for kids to go and take a deep breath or do an activity can be really helpful.
Keep in mind that a “calm down corner” shouldn’t be treated like a “time out” punishment for bad behavior. This should just be a relaxing area kids know they can head to if they’re getting flustered or worked up. Even just a few minutes away can be a big help for processing how you feel in the moment—and that goes for adults as well!
2. Calming lavender dough
The best part of this activity described by Super Healthy Kids® is that we are mixing in a sensory activity with our calm down time. Adding a soothing lavender aroma to the fun of sculpting dough is a perfect tactile way to help your little one begin to calm down. Set the stage with some calming music and let them put their imagination to work.
Sometimes the best way for a child to deal with all of the big emotions in their head is to find a way to get their whole body involved in sorting those feelings out. A simple yoga routine can be a great way for kids to get out some of their kinetic energy while still calming them. Try out a yoga routine so the combination of movement, breath and increased bodily awareness can help them begin to calm down.
4. The 5-4-3-2-1 challenge
A common grounding approach for adults dealing with anxiety or panic attacks, this activity can benefit anyone who is feeling overwhelmed. The 5-4-3-2-1 challenge is a mental exercise that can be done to give a child time to process different information and engage different senses. Ask the child to find five things with their eyes, listen for four things with their ears, find three things to touch with their hands, look for two things to smell with their nose and finally one thing they can taste. This can also be a great way to transition into a snack or mealtime—engage those senses before digging in!
5. Live wildlife cams
Technology can pretty easily be incorporated into calm down time if need be. This adorable and educational idea uses a child’s fascination with animals to your advantage. Pull up the feed from a live zoo or wildlife camera. For instance, the San Diego Zoo® offers a live broadcast of their penguin exhibit that is sure to delight your child as they get a chance to check in on some animal friends. The National Park Service® also features a variety of live cams—the habitat of bears, eagles and ocean creatures are all just a click or two away.
6. Make a rain stick
Having a craft at the ready can be a perfect opportunity to allow time for your child to process and talk about what they are feeling. The Imagination Tree has laid out instructions for how to make a rain stick together. The best part about this craft is that you can keep using it to soothe and slow down in the future.
7. Blowing bubbles
Think about it—have you ever seen an upset person blowing bubbles? This simple activity is an oldie but a goody. One of the best things about blowing bubbles is that without even knowing it, your child is practicing a deep breathing technique. They can begin to self-regulate, and before long, they may just make a full transition into having fun. It is always a good idea to keep some bubble mixture and wands around for an impromptu calm down session.
8. Dance party
This is one to be saved for occasions where you can tell that your child has been feeling cooped up and needs something active to help them process their feelings. Milwaukee Mom has a unique spin on the typical dance party idea—incorporate it just before bedtime to help deal with those potential frustrations that come with not wanting a day to end.
9. Balloon games
Early Impact Learning has a whole slew of balloon games for you and your child to play together or for them to play alone. After starting the process of blowing up the balloon, you could try balloon tennis, making balloon art or even something as simple as knocking it back and forth as you and your child take turns talking about your day.
10. Do Nothing For 2 Minutes
Do Nothing For 2 Minutes, a simple online tool from Calm®, is exactly what it sounds like and can be another way to incorporate technology into calm down time. The site sets a two-minute timer with a background noise of waves, and if you touch the mouse or keyboard at any point, it resets. Going two minutes without touching something can be a great challenge that your child might even enjoy as they watch the clock tick!
Calming down doesn’t require reinventing the wheel—and often, the simpler the activity, the better. Whether counting directly to ten or counting backward from fifty, this long-used practice can be just what the doctor ordered to help children reset.
If you’ve been around a preschool-aged child lately, there is a good chance you’ve had one of the catchy sayings from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood® bouncing around your head at different times throughout the day. Daniel’s song about dealing with his strong emotions offers great advice for kids on how to take a moment to calm down: “If you feel so mad that you want to roar, just take a deep breath and count to four.”
Helping kids calm down
So there you have it, 11 easy go-to ideas for calming kids down! Perhaps you’ve noticed a certain knack for finding the right words or activities to help calm your child and are wondering if that is a skill set you can share with others. If you have a natural gift for working with kids and have wondered if you could someday work in a classroom setting, check out “11 Proven Classroom Management Tips For Preschool Teachers” to see if you may have what it takes to be an early childhood educator!
Super Healthy Kids is a registered trademark of Super Healthy Kids, Inc.
San Diego Zoo is a registered trademark of the Zoological Society of San Diego Corporation.
National Park Service is a registered trademark of the United States Department of the Interior.
Calm is a registered trademark of Calm.com, Inc.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a registered trademark of The Fred Rogers Company Corporation.