Calm Down Basket

What is it?

The calm down basket is a tool to help children self-regulate. A small collection of items in a container in one designated place, children learn to use each item which involves using the breath or the senses. When a child is feeling overwhelmed by big feelings she learns to use something from the Calm Down Basket to help. Usually, a child will just need a minute or two alone to accomplish this. Noticing and adjusting what you are doing is the skill of self-regulation!

What’s in it?

The objects in the basket are selected for the purpose engaging the child’s sensory system. Some items encourage slow, deep breathing such as a pinwheel or breathing ball. Others provide tactile experience like a brush or a rock that the child can rub along his skin. Other items help a child zero in and focus like a glitter jar. Still others are “comfort cues” such as a favorite stuffed animal or puppet.

How to use it?

In introducing the calm down basket, we first explain that the items in the basket are “tools” to help us calm down. Explain where it will be kept, when it can be used, how long to use it, and how many can use it at once. Then we practice each tool together with the guard dog, and ultimately with all three puppets. Having practiced a few times, the Guard dog exclaims that it is feeling much better, and the owl and elephant take deep breaths and declare they are back and ready to do their jobs.

    Resources for Parents


    • Meditation in a New York Minute by Mark Thornton
    • Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland
    • Mindful Games by Susan Kaiser Greenland
    • The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
    • No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
    • Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family by Carla Naumburg
    • Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel and Myla Kabat-Zinn
    • The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair
    • Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time by Victoria Dunkley
    • Little Flower Yoga for Kids by Jennifer Cohen Harper
    • Starbright Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth




    Resources for Kids


    • Your Fantastic, Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak Ph.D. and Sarah Ackerley
    • Puppy Mind by Andrew Jordan Nance
    • What Does it Mean to Be Present by Rana DiOrio
    • My Strong Mind: A Story About Developing Mental Strength by Niels van Hove
    • What Should Danny Do? School Day by Adir and Ganit Levy
    • The Family Book by Todd Par
    • Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith
    • Calm-Down Time by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen
    • Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
    • A Walk in the Rain with Your Brain by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.
    • Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown
    • Hector by Steve Barnes
    • Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • How Does Your Brain Work? by Don L. Curry
    • Juice Box Bully Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
    • Mindful Moments: Ten Exercises for Well-Being by Thich Nhat Hanh
    • Moody Cow by Kerry Lee Maclean
    • My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook
    • No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully by Sarah Marlowe
    • Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson
    • Take the Time: Mindfulness for Kids by Maud Roegiers
    • Think, Think, Think: Learning About Your Brain by Pamela Hill Nettleton
    • What Does it Mean to be Present? by Rana DiOrio
    • Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
    • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
    • How Full is Your Bucket for Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
    • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
    • How to Take the Grrr Out of Anger by Elizabeth Verdick and Marjoan Lisovskis
    • Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda
    • The Color Monster by Anna Llenas
    • Adventure Skill Self-Regulation Flash Cards by Move with Me Yoga Adventures
    • Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids and Grownups (card deck) by Tara Guber
    • The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri