Unicorn Yoga

Unicorn Yoga

If you’ve got a little one who is a big fan of unicorns, than this Unicorn Yoga is a sure win. I’ve had this unicorn craft on the site for years and wanted to add a few other unicorn activities to go with the craft. That’s where these stretches and gross motor exercises come into play.

Unicorn Yoga

Unicorn Yoga

Just in time for Unicorn Day (yep, that’s actually a thing! Unicorn Day is on April 9th), these unicorn yoga exercises are a great addition to your therapy toolbox.

The exercises are a free slide deck that can be used in teletherapy, or as a brain break activity to incorporate into a functional sensory diet or self-regulation strategy.

Kids that love all things unicorns will find these unicorn yoga poses a fun way to incorporate their interests into a meaningful and motivating sensory and gross motor exercise.

In each slide deck, kids can follow along with the unicorn yoga pose to challenge core strength, stability, strengthening, motor planning, crossing midline.

Other benefits of yoga exercises for kids include:

  • mindfulness
  • proprioceptive input
  • vestibular input
  • calming input
  • self-regulation.

Unicorn fitness was never so much fun…or cute!

Also included in this slide deck is a deep breathing activity. The unicorn image shows children how to take in deep breaths for the sensory and regulating benefits. Kids can use these deep breathing strategies while completing each unicorn yoga pose throughout the slide deck.

Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

To incorporate these slides into your therapy practice, you’ll access the slides via the form below. Then, you can pull up the slide deck onto your Google drive. Go through each yoga pose with children in your virtual therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom. Kids can copy the positioning with your verbal cues, and correct any body positioning, depending on spatial awareness and body awareness needs.

Parents, teachers, and therapists may want to follow along with the cute unicorns on each slide, too!

Want to add this free therapy slide deck to your toolbox? Enter your email address below and the exercises will be delivered to your inbox.

NOTE: Please consider using a personal email address rather than a work or school district email. Due to recent changes with network security measures, the email delivering the download may be blocked by your work institution.

FREE Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Exercise and Mood: Why Does my Child Need to Exercise?

    Exercise and mood in kids

    Years of research and personal experience can tell us that adults tend to function better with regular exercise. Exercise helps us sleep better, reduce our stress, and manage our weight2. But what about our kids – how do they benefit from exercise? Today we are going to dive deep into the research and see why and how our kids should exercise to better their mood. Let’s look at the link between exercise and mood, and establishing healthy habits that lead to function and independence in kids.

    Related: Emotional Regulation and Executive Functioning Skills.

    Exercise and mood in children. Kids benefit from exercise to help with tantrums, behaviors, and confidence.

    Exercise and Mood: Managing TEMPER TANTRUMS

    If your child is having issues with emotional regulation, it may come out as a temper tantrum. You know the feeling of having no control over your emotions; being taken on a ride of sadness, aggression, and pounds of heavy frustration. Most adults have had enough practice honing their emotional regulation skills to keep them from screaming in the middle of the grocery store after a long day. Children, however, are still working on developing emotional regulation skills, and because of that, their overall mood can suffer.

    According to research new and old, exercise can help a child better regulate their mood9. Next time your child is screaming in the middle of Target, think to yourself – have they gotten enough physical activity recently? I have found that 30 mins of exercise in the morning can help even out moods for the whole day. Plus, you are bound to get a good nap time out of them if they have gotten enough physical activity – double whammy for everyone’s mood!

    Tips for Exercise and Mood

    Try these tips for encouraging exercise to reduce tantrums in toddlers:

    • Instead of pushing your toddler in a scroller on neighborhood walks, encourage them to walk next to you for a while.
    • Use classic movement songs to incorporate movement into their day – our favorites are “Animal Action” By Greg and Steve, “Jim Along Josie” By Pete Seeger, and “Pet Parade” by Hoyt Axton.
    • If screen time is a part of your routine, use videos like Cosmic Kids Yoga  to make the screen time more valuable.

    Exercise to REDUCe ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

    Research shows that regular exercise in youth can treat anxiety and depression in the short term and long-term 3,4. Some studies suggest that high-intensity exercises, that will increase cardiorespiratory activity, improve mood more than low-impact exercises, like yoga5.

    While there is lots of evidence to support that exercise can improve mood in both adults and children, some of the research points to other affects that exercise programs can have on children. For example, when children are enrolled in sports or other physical activity programs, they are also socially active and get attention from adults, which may also positively impact their mood7.

    Whatever way you look at it, exercise is likely to improve their mood and guard against anxiety and depression.

    Exercise for self-CONFIDENCE

    One way that exercise improves mood is through raising self-esteem – physical activity gives you a confidence boost! Research shows that all kinds of physical activity contribute to a rise in self-esteem5.

    Self-esteem is so important in all the occupations that children have, particularly in school. Academic and social success are partially dependent on self-esteem and self-worth, and both contribute to a positive mood.

    “Psychological and behavioural problems in children and adolescents are common, and improving self‐esteem may help to prevent the development of such problems” (Ekeland et al., 2004).

    Exercise and positive BEHAVIORS

    In one study, researchers found that teachers reported an increase in wanted behaviors for children enrolled in both high and low-intensity exercise programs5. The theory here is that when a child’s physical activity needs are met, they are better able to regulate their emotions, attention, and behaviors9.

    This comes with the awesome effects that exercise has for executive functioning, which controls many cognitive abilities6. With this increase in desirable behaviors, they will be more likely to develop positive relationships with their peers, teachers, and family members8.

    “Exercise…is highly relevant in preadolescent children… given the importance of well-developed executive functions for daily life functioning” (Verburgh et al., 2014). 

    Exercise has been shown to increase self-esteem, cognition and academic success, and decrease depression and anxiety in children3. Not to mention the obvious health factors associated with physical activity like heart and respiratory function. All said, exercise is integral to the overall health and wellness of our children.

    EXERCISES FOR KIDS

    After all that exercise talk, we have to offer some great ideas to add to your list! Most important to any exercise routine – you have to do what you love! Find what your kids like and encourage them to try new activities.

    Another key strategy to encourage exercise in kids is to model healthy habits as the child’s parent. When parents model healthy choices, fitness, and regular exercise, kids see that and are more likely to follow suit with their own healthy choices.

    One way that adults can model healthy choices is through exercising in the home. When kids see adults exercising, they have that positive interaction with physical activity.

    Having a treadmill in the home is one sure-fire way to encourage movement, exercise, and healthy habits that are integrated into the day-to-day. With  Horizon Fitness treadmills and fitness equipment, you get the availablity of cardio equiptment right in the home. It’s there as a visable option for adding movement and regular cardio exercise on a daily or weekly basis.

    Plus, parents of children can benefit from the fitness programs for quick and effective workouts that fit into the busy family’s schedule. Horizon offers a number of entertainment apps and streaming options, including Bluetooth speakers,  live or on-demand fitness apps, and other streaming fitness opportunities. All of these extras are designed to promote improved physical exercise and meaningful motivation.

    Click here to join me in using Horizon Fitness equipment as a tool to ensure healthy families.

    References

    1. Ekeland, E., Heian, F., Hagen, K. B., Abbott, J. M. & Nordheim, L. (2004). Exercise to improve self‐esteem in children and young people. Cochrane Libary of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003683.pub

    2. Oaten, M. & Cheng, K. (2010). Longitudinal gains in self‐regulation from regular physical exercise. The British Journal of Health Psychology,11(4). https://doi.org/10.1348/135910706X96481

    3. Ortega, F. B., Ruiz, J. R., Castillo, M. J. & Sjöström, M. (2008). Physical fitness in childhood and adolescence: a powerful marker of health. International Journal of Obesity, 32, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803774

    4. Pascoe, M. C. & Parker, A. G. (2018). Physical activity and exercise as a universal depression prevention in young people: A narrative review. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/eip.12737

    5. Telles, S., Singh, N., Bhardwaj, A. D., Kumar, A. & Balkrishna, A. (2013). Effect of yoga or physical exercise on physical, cognitive and emotional measures in children: a randomized controlled trial. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health,7(37). https://doi.org/10.1186/1753-2000-7-37

    6. Verburgh, L., Königs, M., Scherder, E. J. A., & Oosterlaan, J. (2014). Physical exercise and executive functions in preadolescent children, adolescents and young adults: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,48, 973-979. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/12/973

    7. Williams, C. F., Bustamante, E. E., Waller, J. L. & Davis, C. L. (2019). Exercise effects on quality of life, mood, and self-worth in overweight children: the SMART randomized controlled trial. Translational Behavioral Medicine,9(3), 451–459. https://doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibz015

    8. Xue, Y., Yang, Y. & Huang, T. (2019). Effects of chronic exercise interventions on executive function among children and adolescents: A systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine,53, 1397-1404. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097600

    9. Zhang, Y., Fu, R., Sun, L., Gong, Y., & Tang, D. (2019). How does exercise improve implicit emotion regulation ability: Preliminary evidence of mind-body exercise intervention combined with aerobic jogging and mindfulness-based yoga. Frontiers in Psychology,10. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01888

    Sydney Rearick, OTS, is an occupational therapy graduate student at Concordia University Wisconsin. Her background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about meeting your family’s needs. After working as a nanny for the last decade, Sydney is prepared to handle just about anything an infant, toddler, or child could throw at her. She is also a newly established children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.

    Exercise and Mood Resources for Kids

    You’ll love these resources designed to help kids get moving, exercising, and building skills, and kids won’t even realize they are “exercising”!

    Designed to use fun themes, these heavy work activity cards add proprioceptive input to help kids become more aware of their body’s position in space.

    Heavy work input allows kids to gain more awareness of motor planning skills, coordination, AND strengthening in fun and creative ways.

    Incorporate the themed exercise cards into learning themes or play.

    Grab your set of heavy work exercise cards, now.

    Includes themes:

    1. Trucks Heavy Work Activities
    2. Insects Heavy Work Activities
    3. Sea Animals Heavy Work Activities
    4. Farm Animals Heavy Work Activities
    5. Jungle Animals Heavy Work Activities
    6. Woodland Animals Heavy Work Activities
    7. Superheroes Heavy Work Activities
    8. Sports Heavy Work Activities
    9. Monsters Heavy Work Activities
    10. Summer Heavy Work Activities
    11. Butterfly Life Cycle Heavy Work Activities
    heavy work activity card example

    Snowman Deep Breathing Exercise

    Snowman deep breathing exercise

    Today, I have another fun deep breathing exercise to share with you! This time of year, it’s all about the snowmen. Now, you can use a snowman theme in a sensory coping strategy with deep breathing exercises with a snowman deep breathing exercise. It’s a free mindfulness printable that you can download and use all winter long.

    Snowman deep breathing exercise

    Snowman theme deep breathing exercise

    A snowman image makes a great image for slow and mindful breathing. Use this as a guide to show children how to take a deep breath and then slowly breathe out.

    The visual prompts on this image includes a white dot where kids can pause and hold their breath for calming benefits.

    Use this deep breathing activity as a mindfulness activity for winter.

    You can print this off by entering your email address below. The printable will then be delivered to your email inbox.

    More winter deep breathing exercises

    You’ll love this polar bear self-regulation activity. Print and go!

    This penguin deep breathing exercise is fun, too.

    Grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including penguin themes. There are lacing cards, crafts, pencil control strips, scissor skills activities, and much more. Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.

    CLICK HERE TO GET THE WINTER FINE MOTOR KIT.

    Want to grab this free printable? Enter your email in the form below. You’ll receive the deep breathing worksheet immediately in your email inbox.

    winter fine motor kit

    Enter your email address in the form below to access the snowman deep breathing exercise.

    Free Snowman Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

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      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Penguin Deep Breathing Exercise

      deep breathing exercise with a penguin theme

      This penguin deep breathing exercise is another coping tool that kids can use as a self-regulation strategy. It follows several others in our series of image-based deep breathing exercises. These were originally created here on The OT Toolbox and you’ll be seeing many more breathing exercise tools coming your way! I think you’ll love the recent polar bear self-regulation activity. It’s a deep breathing exercise, too. Scroll on to access this printable worksheet.

      Penguin deep breathing exercise for self-regulation or coping skills in kids.

      Penguin Deep Breathing Exercise

      I love this deep breathing activity for part of a penguin theme. This time of year, penguins are all the rage in preschool and younger elementary grades. This penguin-themed breathing activity is a powerful way to work on self-regulation using that theme.

      More penguin activities:

      Penguin yoga– This penguin yoga slide deck is another penguin activity that you can use along with the self-regulation tool.

      Penguin Activities– For more ways to use a penguin theme, check out this penguin activities post full of penguin crafts, movement activities, and sensory play ideas, and even snacks.

      Grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including penguin themes. There are lacing cards, crafts, pencil control strips, scissor skills activities, and much more. Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.

      CLICK HERE TO GET THE WINTER FINE MOTOR KIT.

      Want to grab this free printable? Enter your email in the form below. You’ll receive the deep breathing worksheet immediately in your email inbox.

      Free Penguin Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

        We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.
        winter fine motor kit

        Don’t forget your copy of the Winter Fine Motor Kit!

        Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

        Polar Bear Self-Regulation Activity

        Polar bear theme deep breathing exercise for kids

        Back by popular demand, this polar bear themed self-regulation activity is designed to be used with other polar bear activities here on The OT Toolbox. Add this deep breathing activity to others in your toolkit and work on self-regulation skills with deep breathing exercises. You can print this free resource off and use it all winter long.

        Be sure to check out our Winter Fine Motor Kit for more polar bear activities and other arctic animal themes.

        Polar bear self regulation activity has a polar bear theme deep breathing exercise for kids

        Polar Bear Self Regulation Activity

        This deep breathing activity is an idea originally created on this website, (and you’ll now find copies on other sites, unfortunately without giving credit for their replications). At any rate, this is a fun way to offer self-regulation strategies to cope with big emotions, sensory needs, and calming strategies through deep breaths in and out.

        Deep breathing adds heavy work through the mouth and nose, adding calming proprioceptive input that can calm.

        Holding a deep breath in full lungs or empty lungs offers an opportunity to integrate interoception and talk about how the body feels with that deep breathing.

        These are mindfulness strategies at work! There are many benefits of mindfulness work and deep breathing exercises are one way to incorporate those techniques.

        Here are additional winter mindfulness activities.

        More polar bear activities

        Try these hands-on activities with a polar bear theme:

        Polar bear math activity– This doubles as a polar bear craft with fine motor benefits. We used the polar bear crafts as math manipulatives, combining fine motor and math.

        Polar bear science– This is an OLD activity here on the website, but a classic! Learn about how polar bears stay warm in the arctic temperatures. You’ll love the polar bear craft here, too.

        Polar Bear Gross Motor Activity– This is an indoor gross motor activity that challenges balance, coordination, strength, and mobility. All you need is some space and a few blankets.

        Polar Bear Activities– Here you’ll find polar bear books, a polar bear themed snack, and much more. Fun stuff to add to your polar bear theme!

        Polar Bear Sensory Craft– We made homemade puffy paint and turned it into a polar bear craft with tactile sensory benefits.

        Grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.

        Click here to get the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

        winter fine motor kit

        Polar Bear Deep Breathing Exercise

        Use this polar bear deep breathing exercise in print out version or use on a tablet screen while working on these deep breathing exercises. It’s a great way to use the strategies while on the go as well.

        Want to grab your copy of this printable deep breathing activity to add to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address below and grab the printable.

        Free Polar Bear Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

          We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

          Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

          Gross Motor Mindfulness Activities

          Gross motor mindfulness activities for children

          These gross motor mindfulness activities combine several sensory systems to improve mindfulness in kids. There are many reasons to add mindfulness activities to learning in the classroom or at home. Some of those benefits of mindfulness include improved attention and focus, emotional regulation, cognitive functioning, self awareness, and  listening skills. There are many other additional benefits of mindfulness, too. When we add gross motor movements and whole body movements to mindfulness activities with intention, resistive input through the proprioceptive system adds calming input. Likewise, movement in different planes adds calming or alerting input. 

          Gross motor mindfulness activities for kids

          These whole body mindfulness tasks can be included in brain breaks or within learning activities. 

          Gross motor Mindfulness Activities

          Using mindfulness along with whole body movements can be a good way to help kids re-center themselves so that they can focus inwardly and be more aware of  what’s happening in their body as well as the outward behaviors or actions that are happening in their environment in the classroom or home. 

          Reach and Breath- Kids can stand as tall as they can. They should start with both hands down at their sides. As they slowly reach up, they can take a deep breath in. When both hands touch above their head, they should pause and hold their breath for a moment. Then, they can slowly lower their hands to their sides as they breath out a long, slow breath. Raising their arms with their breathing encourages movement of the shoulder girdle and increases the capacity for breathing in. What while lowering their arms pushes out more air to encourage for expulsion of air from the lungs.

          Arm long breathing-This technique encourages use of the full lungs when breathing in and breathing out to expel all of the air in the lungs. Starting with the hand at the opposite shoulder, the child should slowly breathe in as they move their hand down their outstretched arm. When their hand reaches their other hand, they should pause for a moment, and then slowly start to move their hand back to the shoulder as they breathe out. 

          Yoga breaths- Encourage deep breathing and full body motions such as warrior or downward dog.

          Starfish Breaths- For this whole body movement and deep breathing activity, children can imagine their hand is a starfish. As they take a deep breath in and out, they can slowly open and close their hand so all fingers are extended and then pulled into a fist. At the same time, they can raise their hand up over their head as they breath in and down to the ground as they breathe out.

          Bend and stretch breathing– Students should reach both arms up overhead. As they bend forward at the hips, they can slowly breathe out through their mouth and reach down to touch their toe with their opposite hand. Students should then raise up at the hip with at the hips and reach their arm back overhead as they breathe in through their nose. Make this a group gross motor activity with a few adjustments.

          Watch the Target- Using a target that is paired with deep breathing and slow, gentle motions can be a gross motor mindfulness activity that allows kids to become aware of their body’s movements as well as the world around them. Make a DIY streamer like we did in the past using a dowel rod and ribbons. Party streamers taped to an unsharpened pencil would work for this activity too. Kids can hold the streamer with their arm extended and move slowly as they take deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth. Try to pair upward motions with deep breaths in and downward motions with deep breaths out. 

          Each of these gross motor activities can be used to improve mindfulness and kids in the classroom or in home. 

          Gross motor activities to develop mindfulness

          More mindfulness activities

          Be sure to grab these deep breathing and gross motor activities. When possible, combine the deep breathing and mindful awareness to movement and whole-body activities to create a centering activity.

          Free pumpkin deep breathing activity

          Free spider web mindfulness activity

          Free clover deep breathing activity

          Free Thanksgiving mindfulness activity

          Free Christmas mindfulness activity

          Free Football mindfulness worksheet

          Dinosaur gross motor activity

          Heavy work movement activities

          heavy work movement activity cards
          Heavy Work Movement Cards- special deal!

          Use these heavy work cards to help with building body awareness, motor planning abilities, proprioceptive input, or a movement activity as a brain break to pay attention between learning activities.

          In the set of cards, you’ll find heavy work activities in the following themes:

          1. Trucks Heavy Work Activities

          2. Insects Heavy Work Activities

          3. Sea Animals Heavy Work Activities

          4. Farm Animals Heavy Work Activities

          5. Jungle Animals Heavy Work Activities

          6. Woodland Animals Heavy Work Activities

          7. Superheros Heavy Work Activities

          8. Sports Heavy Work Activities

          9. Monsters Heavy Work Activities

          10. Summer Heavy Work Activities

          11. Butterfly Life Cycle Heavy Work Activities

          Each activity page includes 8 movement and heavy work cards in that theme.

          These heavy work activities can be added to home programs, teletherapy activity plans, or used as brain breaks during learning and play.

          Click here for the Heavy Work Movement Activities

          Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

          Turkey Theme Therapy Slide Deck

          Turkey theme slide deck for occupational therapy

          Whether you are looking for turkey activities for teletherapy, or some added ways to make occupational therapy sessions fun this time of year, our latest free therapy slide deck is for you. Below, you can access a free turkey theme therapy slide deck to use as an outline for occupational therapy interventions or to add motor skills to help kids thrive.

          Turkey theme slide deck for occupational therapy

          Turkey Theme Therapy Slide Deck

          Today’s turkey theme slide deck is just one more in the series of free interactive slide decks for occupational therapy. You can access all of the free slides at the bottom of this blog post.

          For more occupational therapy teletherapy activities, check out this blog post.

          This turkey theme therapy slide deck covers a variety of areas:

          • Gross motor warm up
          • Fine motor skills
          • Handwriting
          • Visual perceptual skills and visual motor skills
          • Self-regulation
          Turkey theme gross motor slide deck for occupational therapy interventions

          Turkey theme gross motor activity

          Use the gross motor warm up to challenge motor planning, core strength, and bilateral coordination. Use this warm up activity for whole-body movement to get ready for working on other areas in therapy.

          Turkey theme fine motor slide deck for occupational therapy interventions

          Turkey theme Fine Motor Activities

          The fine motor portion of this free slide deck uses sign language as a way to get fingers and hands moving. Kids can follow along with the slide deck to spell out “TURKEY” while copying images and practicing the American Sign Language.

          These activities help kids with visual motor skills, separation of the sides of the hand, finger isolation, arch development, and more.

          Turkey theme handwriting slide deck for occupational therapy interventions

          Turkey theme Handwriting Activity

          This slide is open-ended and designed to meet the needs of a variety of ages and levels of children. Kids can write a list of the clothing words to dress the turkey. Other kids might write a sentence using certain clothing names as they disguise a turkey. Still other children might write a paragraph.

          The slide can also be used as a visual discrimination or visual memory activity. Ask students to look at the slide and then switch it out. Can they remember all of the clothing items on the disguise the turkey activity?

          turkey theme visual perception slide deck for occupational therapy interventions

          Turkey theme Visual Perception Activity

          Next, ask students to move the interactive turkey through the maze as they work on a variety of visual perceptual skills and eye-hand coordination.

          turkey theme self regulation slide deck for occupational therapy interventions

          Turkey theme Self Regulation Activity

          Finally, students can fill in the self-regulation checklist as they take a self assessment of their feelings, emotions, and behaviors. This is a good time to end the therapy session and come up with some strategies or coping tools to address any self-regulation needs.

          Want to get your hands on this turkey therapy theme? Enter your email address below and the file will be delivered directly to your email inbox.

          Enjoy and have fun!

          Get this Turkey Theme OT Slide Deck

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            More interactive therapy slide decks you will enjoy:

            Here is a slide deck for a Social Story for Wearing a Mask.

            Here is a Space Theme Therapy Slide Deck.

            Here is a Therapy Planning Interactive Slide Deck.

            Here is a Back to School Writing Activity Slide Deck.

            Here is an Alphabet Exercises Slide Deck.

            Here is a Self-Awareness Activities Slide Deck.

            Here is a Strait Line Letters Slide Deck.

            Here is a “Scribble theme” Handwriting Slide Deck.

            Teach Letters with an interactive Letter Formation Slide Deck.

            Thanksgiving Fine Motor Kit…on sale now!

            Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

            Zones of Regulation Activities

            Zones of regulation activities for kids

            The Zones of Regulation program is a self-regulation tool to help kids identify, address, and use strategies to achieve self-control and emotional regulation in a non-judgmental and safe way. All of us can use zones of regulation activities to monitor, maintain, and change our level of regulation. Here, you will find zones of regulation activities and tips to work on self-regulation of emotions through fun and interactive activities. These are DIY Zones activities that you can make as part of your occupational therapy treatment and can be used over and over again!

            Zones of regulation activities are tools for helping kids regulate emotions and behaviors through coping tools and sensory activities.

            Using interactive zones of regulation activities can be helpful for kids who struggle with self-regulation.

            Zones of Regulation Activities

            Activities to support emotional regulation and coping skills can come in many forms. In this resource, you will find specific activities to add to a zones of regulation toolbox, so that monitoring and maintaining a functional level of regulation is possible in any situation. There are zones of regulation posters, worksheets, self-regulation checks, zones of regulation games, and even cootie catchers. All of these regulation tools are strategies to help kids become more aware of their self in order to function. Let’s break it down further…

            These Zones of Regulation activities are fun ways to teach self-regulation and coping strategies along with the zones of regulation program.

            What is self-regulation?

            Well, let’s break it down.  “Self” means you or me.  “Regulation” means the process of being in control or to have management. So, add these two terms together and you get “self-regulation”. Self-regulation means you or me being in control and having management of ourselves.

            Self-regulation is a skill that many children have a difficult time learning and achieving without help. In a given day, a child (and an adult) encounters multiple situations and circumstances that require an awareness of self and others as well as the ability to have or gain self-control.

            Generally speaking, a child should achieve an optimal level of self-awareness and mindfulness to identify their inner feelings and emotions and be ready to regulate themselves when the time comes. They need to learn strategies and techniques that work for them to assist them in leaving a less optimal level in order to get back to a “ready-to-go” level of regulation.

            Here are more mindfulness activities that kids can use in their Zones of Regulation Toolbox.

            Zones of regulation activities and self-regulation curricula

            Self-regulation CurriculA

            There are many different programs that offer self-regulation curriculum. These are regulation programs and interventions that can assist a child (and adult) to learn the skills necessary to achieve emotional regulation fit for every situation, circumstance, and environment.

            Amazon affiliate links are included below.

            Many programs, curriculum or interventions are created by occupational therapy professionals e.g., Zones of Regulation, The Alert Program, Test Drive, The Sensory Connection, and a new program called, The Regulation Rocket.

            One of the common self-regulation programs is the Zones of Regulation.

            The Zones of Regulation program is what most of our children use in their schools and homes.  This program helps kiddos to identify, address and use strategies to achieve good self-control and emotional regulation in a non-judgmental and safe way. Using the zones helps to take the focus off of the child as being “good” or “bad” and places the focus on obtaining control to get back to the “green zone.”

            The self-regulation program teachers children and their parents or teachers how to recognize the relationship between emotions, feelings, and their internal “state of being” with the behaviors and actions that we see. This relationship impacts attention, learning, and emotions. When students understand the connection between their arousal states and their ability to self-regulate, they can identify different zones or levels which they are currently in at any given time. They can then use regulation tools or strategies to impact their arousal so they can appropriately and efficiently respond to the demands of a given task.

            What is regulation?

            Self-regulation is the ability to attain, maintain, and change one’s arousal level, emotions, and behaviors. This ability to self-control relies on impulse control, working memory, and generally speaking, the ability to keep oneself “in check”. The ability to experience feelings and desires and make decisions based on those concepts requires motivation, willpower, higher level thinking.

            It requires the ability to self-monitor our thoughts, actions, feelings, internal body processes (interoception), and then make choices. These decisions can sometimes occur in a moment. For some, this instantaneous decision-making can lead to poor regulation.

            Self-regulation can refer to emotional regulation or behavioral regulation. Self-reflection of feelings, emotions, and our response to situations is the ability to use emotional regulation.

            Emotional regulation can look like a bad decision based on inner thoughts, or being in a grumpy mood and as a result being mean to a friend. Emotional regulation has to do with inner decisions related to emotions and moods.

            Behavioral regulation refers to decisions related to actions and what we say, do, or think in response to inner thoughts and desires.

            I think we can all say that one time or another we had something that we were expected to do but we really did NOT want to do. Maybe that was mow the lawn when we really wanted to watch a movie inside. Maybe we wanted to sleep in when we actually had to get up for an early meeting. These would be examples of behavioral regulation. Knowing that those tasks needed to be done and making the decision to do them rather than giving into impulses is a form of self-regulation.

            We have a few blog posts here on the website that explain self-regulation in greater detail. This article on using the Mightier program for self-regulation shows how to use the application and game to help a child identify their feelings and utilize coping strategies that impact those various emotional regulation changes. The games adjust to challenge the child as they become more proficient in coping strategies.

            In this self-regulation craft and activity, we used a lion and a lamb concept to bring the abstract meaning of regulation to a concrete place of learning and exploration, by helping kids to see that self regulation strategies can make a huge difference in paying attention and learning in the classroom or completing tasks that need to be done at home. 

            In this article, we covered the connection between executive functioning skills and emotional regulation.

            Zones of regulation explained

            What are the zones of regulation

            Well, in brief summation, it is a curriculum or framework created by an occupational therapist, Leah Kuypers, which is designed to help a child navigate their sometimes confusing emotions. The curriculum helps a child to achieve self-regulation and emotional control by gaining skills in self-control and problem-solving based on targeted zones that are identified with colors.

            These zones help a child recognize, categorize, and communicate their feelings or emotions based on a specific zone. This makes the program an effective and fluid tool for a child to understand, learn, and achieve without feeling judged or different.

            Let’s quickly review the zones so you can have a better understanding of the reason behind my fun tool creations. I designed these tools for individual children to help them better understand and navigate their emotions while identifying strategies that help them shift from a less desirable zone to a more calm and focused zone, which is better for participating and learning at school, home, church, and in therapy.

            Kids can have big emotions that impact their ability to cope in school or at home! These Zones of Regulation strategies can make a big difference in emotional control and using coping skills at school and at home.

            What do the Colors in the Zones of Regulation Program Mean?

            The Red Zone is an extremely heightened state of alertness with intense emotions and is typically viewed as the child being “out-of-control.” Examples include: elation, rage, anger, devastation, etc.

            The Yellow Zone is entering a heightened state of alertness and elevated emotions typically viewed as heading toward the red zone, but the child still has some control. Examples include: nervousness, wiggly/silly, frustration, excitement, etc.

            The Green Zone is the optimal level of alertness and is typically viewed as the child being “good to go” and ready for leaning and social interactions. Examples include: positive, calm, happy, focused, content, etc.

            The Blue Zone is a low level of alertness typically viewed as the child running slow. Examples include: sick, bored, tired, sad, etc.

            Use  these Zones of Regulation activities to help kids understand the zones and self-regulation as they learn coping strategies that can help with self-regulation.

            Fun Zones of Regulation Activities

            What is the best part about the fun tools I created?  YOU can create them and use them with most any regulation program based on the programs framework.

            Look at the fun tools I created and take the general structure and design to build essential tools to go with whatever program you may be utilizing in therapy, the classroom, or at home.

            Use zones of regulation activities to help kids identify and regulate emotions and behaviors.

            1. Zones Pocket Play for Emotions and Coping Strategies

            In this zones activity, kids can make the tools they need to work on self-regulation. Have kiddos fold file folders to create a pocket on the bottom. Trim off the edges. Use hot glue to turn the large pocket into four sections (red, yellow, green, and blue). Color and label the sections based on zones. Have kiddos label craft sticks with either emotions or coping strategies and insert into the correct pockets.

            This Zones Pocket Play for Emotions and Coping Strategies Folders can be used in the home or classroom.

            Use this zones of regulation activity to help kids with self-regulation and coping strategies for emotional regulation at home or at school.

            2. Zone Check-In Tube

            Have kiddos paint or wrap colored tape around paper towel tubes according to the zone colors. If painting, wait to dry. Follow up with kiddos writing emotion words or even drawing emotion facial expressions onto the matching tube color. Place a hair band onto the tube to roll up and down as needed to perform check-ins with children throughout the day.

            Kids can use this zones of regulation activity to help with self-regulation and self-monitoring as they become more aware of emotions and strategies to cope with big emotions.

            3. Zone Check-In Frame

            Hot glue colored craft sticks according to zone colors (red, yellow, green and blue) to create a square frame and then have child write the zone title on one side and zone emotion words on the other side OR have child write zone emotion words on one side and coping strategies on the other side. Place a clothespin onto the frame to clip as needed to perform check-ins with children throughout the day. This tool can also be used to teach and review while learning the program zones as well.

            4. Zone Grab Bag Game

            Have kiddos create an emotion identification grab bag game. This can be done in differentiated ways:

            • Draw emotional expressions as faces on matching color dot stickers and place on bottle caps (for younger children).
            • Simply draw emotional facial expressions on bottle caps directly with a black marker (for older children).
            • Draw emotional facial expressions on plastic spoons with matching colored markers (for younger children).
            • Draw emotional facial expressions on plastic spoons with a black marker (for older children).

            Once these are created, toss only the caps or only the spoons into a grab bag or simply toss them all into one bag.

            When children grab a cap or spoon from the bag, they decide which colored mat they belong on to identify the correct emotion and zone.

            This zones of regulation activity is a great way for kids to better understand self-regulation and strategies for emotional regulation and self control skills in kids.

            4. Zones of Regulation Craft

            Use this Lion and lamb self- regulation craft to identify emotions and talk about “lamb” emotions and responses and “lion” emotions and responses.

            5. Make a Coping Skills Toolbox

            Identifying coping strategies that work for each individual can make all the difference in having a set of “go to” regulation strategies when the need presents itself. This massive list of coping strategies for kids are perfect for filling a coping skills toolbox. Write them out on slips of paper, add them to a flip book, make them into coping skills Popsicle sticks, or add them to a coping strategies bulletin board. Kids can go through the various calming and alerting activities and use them to self-regulate.

            6. Make a Zones of Regulation Chart

            Use a file folder or slide a paper into a page protector to create a Zones of Regulation chart using movement activities in the classroom. Kids can mark off their zone and pick from a coping mechanism to help them get to a zone in which they can learn and pay attention.

            7. Keep a Self-Reflection Journal

            Using a printed journal like our Self-Reflection Journal or the Impulse Control Journal can help kids identify more about themselves, become more self-aware, while reflecting on their day and week. They can write down their actions, emotions, and responses and then look back at what worked and what didn’t work. By using a written journal, children can describe good and poor choices that they’ve made and then write out tools that they can try next time. Journaling is a conversation tool to use when talking about what works and what doesn’t work for a child with a variety of needs.

            The Impulse Control Journal takes self-reflection a step further by working on the impulses that impact behavioral regulation or emotional regulation and the actions that we see. This tool is effective in helping kids and teens to identify emotions, reactions, responses, and learning strategies to change their regulation through self-awareness. Kids can choose strategies independently and see progress by working through the Impulse Control Journal pages.

            8. Identify emotions through Play

            The first step of self-regulation is the ability to identify emotions. Social emotional learning begins with naming emotions, matching emotion names to faces and body language. When kids identify emotions, they can begin to develop empathy for others but also become more self-aware of their own emotions, the things that impact those feelings, and how they respond. Some ways to identify emotions through play include:

            • Using play to identify emotions can be done in so many pretend play activities.
            • Use pictures or video modeling to help kids identify emotions and label the terms.
            • Act out emotions with toys and name the emotions that the toys are demonstrating.

            9. Explore self regulation skills

            When kids explore self regulation skills by experimenting with sensory input, kids can identify the terms that their body feels when they are exposed to that sensory input. If done during a calm time, when the child is at high alert and concentration, they are able to fully experience the input without distraction. Kids can then create a zones toolbox using the self-regulation skills that work for them.

            Try these self regulation skills exploration with kids:

            • Try a variety of sensory foods and ask the child to identify how their mouth feels with each food. Does the food taste salty, sweet, chewy, crunchy, or sour? How does their mouth feel after trying each food? Awake, sleepy, happy, calm, alert? Ask the child to put a name to each food. Mark these down on a chart and use this as a regulation tool.
            • Try different types of movement using Sensory Diet Cards. Kids can try the sensory activity and identify how their body feels. Mark it down and add those calming or alerting activities to their regulation toolbox.
            These Zones of regulation activities are perfect for self-regulation in the classroom, homeschooling, or remote learning setting.

            Self Regulation in the Classroom

            Self regulation in the classroom can impact learning, attention, focus, and student interaction.

            Now that you know some zones of regulation activities, you can use them in the classroom or learning environment. Whether that be in the traditional school setting, in homeschooling, or in remote learning settings, the Zones of Regulation is effective to foster learning.

            Go ahead and make these fun and easy Zones of Regulation tools to help your kiddos learn emotional regulation and self-control to help them succeed in their daily lives so they can feel good and remain cool. Kiddos will enjoy the interactive components and you’ll see learning and regulation evolve! They can be used at home or in the school environment.

            In the learning environment, kids can identify how characters of a book or reading assignment feel.

            Help students identify emotions in magazines or online.

            Identify specific tasks that the characters could do to get to a zone that would help them in the situation they are in. This can be a great group activity for students.

            Come up with group or small group coping tools that students can use as a brain break or movement break.

            Have students make a DIY quiet fidget tool that they can keep in their pencil pouch or desk.

            Explore these sensory strategies for school and come up with regulation activities that work for the learning situation.

            Add movement to learning. These monthly movement activities can work for many themes. These heavy work activity cards can be used in the classroom or with various learning themes.

            Zones of regulation activities for kids and ideas for teaching kids self-regulation

            There are so many options for zones of regulation activities for kids. What would you add to this list?

            This post was written in part, by The OT Toolbox contributor, Regina Allen. Read about Regina in her Contributor Author Spotlight.

            Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.