Lion and Lamb Self-Regulation Activity for Kids

lion lamb self regulation activity

This Lion and Lamb Self-Regulation Activity for kids is perfect for helping kids build their ability to control emotions and behaviors in a fun, spring themed way.  Use this tool to help kids adjust to difficult situations in the classroom or at home. Self-regulation is a big term. Let’s see if we can explain that term a little here and provide you with strategies to help with regulation.

Lion and Lamb Self regulation Activity

In like a lion and out like a lamb self regulation activity for kids

Here, we’re covering a fun self-regulation activity using the imagery of in like a lion and out like a lamb…typically depicting the volatile March weather. BUT, we can take that metaphor and relate it to the story emotions using lion terms like fast, loud, tearing, roaring, etc. and the soft and quiet emotions we relate to a lamb: soft, quiet, calm, etc.

When learners use those terms to identify their own feelings and emotions, we give them the words to describe how they feel. We also provide a visual imagery of how their body looks both from the inward and outward perspectives. This is a powerful concept for kids and one that can take the self-regulation process to the next level of automaticity.

This lion and lamb activity is a self-regulation activity that kids will love for understanding emotional regulation, self-control, and strategies to help them manage their emotions and behaviors. with a cute lion and lamb craft.

Occupational therapy and self-regulation

In occupational therapy, self-regulation activities can play a big part in treatment interventions. Kids can really struggle with emotional control or mindfulness in a situation in a way that impacts their functioning. Understanding how sensory processing plays a part in regulation and behaviors is part of the occupational therapy self-regulation intervention plan.  

Occupational therapists can help parents, teachers, and children understand what is going on behind big emotions or big behaviors. They can help them 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. 

Self-regulation is a difficult skill for many children.  Kids of all ages and developmental levels have a need to build on their self-regulation skills. Building self-regulation skills allows kids to deal with their emotions in appropriate and functional ways.  

When a child is able to control their emotions, they can adjust to situations while managing their feelings and behaviors.  Here is more in-depth information about self-regulation.

This self-regulation activity helps children understand and put words into the ways their body and mind may be reacting to certain situations.

Lion and Lamb Self-Regulation Activity 

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Lion and lamb self-regulation activity for kids

Using a lion and lamb metaphor is a concrete way for kids to learn about and understand self-regulation.  Many times, kids understand when their body or brain is not in control.  Situations can get away from a child, when they are unable to react or respond in an appropriate manner. 

Kids can use the idea of a lion and lamb to understand different ways that they might be feeling.  This activity should be done in a separate time from breakdowns or tantrums.  When a child is calm and open to talking about previous situations, sit down with the child or group of children and talk about how it might feel to be a lion and a lamb.  


Self-Regulation Activity For Kids

For this activity, I used just a piece of paper and divided it into two columns. This could be done on a large notebook on an easel in front of the classroom and hung as a poster in the classroom.  This paper is a great price and can be used on any easel

Use the lion and lamb imagery to work on feelings concepts and emotional learning.

Social emotional learning plays a huge role in how we act, or behave. It’s all part of that self-regulation piece that impacts learning, interaction with others, and daily functioning.

I asked my preschooler and first grader how a lion might feel and how a lamb might feel.  We talked about how lions are load and fast and how a lamb is calm and quiet.  As they mentioned describing terms, I just jotted them down on the columns. 

Then, we looked at the whole list for each animal.  At this point, you can talk with the class about how we all feel all of these ways at one time or another.  Sometimes we feel soft-spoken and slow and other times we feel loud and “roar-y”!

Self-regulation is adapting to and responding to sensory, emotional, and cognitive input.  The way our body and mind acts and thinks can get stuck if we don’t use our self-regulation abilities. Below, you will find a list of self-regulation strategies. They can be incorporated into occupational therapy’s self-regulation suggestions, or used to meet the child’s needs with adapting to and responding to sensory/emotional/cognitive input.

Use the lion and lamb metaphor to help kids adjust in appropriate ways.  You can tell your child or students that there are times that it is appropriate to “be a lion” and there are times that it is appropriate to “be a lamb”.  

in like a lion out like a lamb craftS

Lion craft to use as a self-regulation activity for kids

Then, take the discussion further by incorporating a lion and lamb craft.

  • Some ideas are using toilet paper rolls to make a lion and a lamb. Kids can work on the fine motor skills to cut out paper parts and glue them onto the toilet paper roll.
  • For some kids, the crafting experience can be an exercise in self-control, too!

These lion and lamb themed activities would be another great way to incorporate a lion and lamb theme into discussion with your kids or classroom:  

  1. Make a pine cone lamb craft while talking about the qualities of a lamb. (Fireflies and Mudpies)  
  2. Use a lion and lamb ten frame to work sneak address math concepts with the same theme. (Fun-a-Day)
  3. Make these In like a lion and Out like a lamb puppets and get creative with the imagination play. (Still Playing School)    

Talk about how “lion weather” might be blustery and fast, windy and stormy. It relates back to a loud lion that is rough, fierce, or angry.

Lamb craft as a self-regulation activity for kids

Then make a lamb craft out of a toilet paper roll. Kids can cut the paper pieces from cardstock or construction paper and work on gluing them on by copying a visual model. While crafting, discuss the qualities of a lamb, and how that relates to calm or soft voices, or peaceful and soft voices.

Another idea is to use this lamb handprint craft. Simply make a handprint using white paint and draw on the features of a lamb. Children can make the lion craft in the same way by sing yellow paint and drawing on or gluing on feature of the lion.

More Self-Regulation Activities


Next, come up with techniques to adjust to situations when the child needs to switch from a lion to a lamb or vice versa.  One strategy is using sensory tools to help calm down or speed up our bodies.  Try these sensory activities as a list of self-regulation strategies to address many different needs and interests.

Try some of these calming sensory ideas to calm down a “lion”

  • Wall push ups
  • Chair push ups
  • Carrying a stack of books
  • Pushing a laundry basket full of toys
  • Tug of war
  • Animal Walks
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing
  • Stress toys
  • Drinking from a cup with a straw
  • A calm-down station or corner
  • Wrapping up in a blanket
  • Pillow sandwiches

Try some of these ideas to alert a “lamb”

  • Jumping 
  • Skipping
  • Trampoline
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Head Shoulders Knees and Toes
  • Icy drink
  • Clapping games
  • Spinning on a swing
  • Dancing 
  • Brain Breaks
  • Playing catch

More lion & lamb activities

More sensory heavy work activities you may like:

Proprioception Backyard Play Activities

Fall Proprioception Activities

Play Dough and Rocks Fine Motor Proprioception

Ice Cube Proprioception Activity

Spring Occupational Therapy Activities

Add these lion and lamb ideas to your Spring occupational therapy line-up. Here are more ways to keep your therapy planning full for the next few months:

Lion and lamb self regulation activities

Free Lion and lamb Self Regulation Tool

Print off this self-regulation PDF and work on identifying areas of self-regulation with a lion and lamb theme. This is great for the month of March, but can be used any time of year using the lion and lamb imagery.

Self-regulation is a difficult skill for many children mainly because of the development happening along with outside influences in the world around them. Day to day tasks can feel very “out of ones control” to children. Add in emotions, communication struggles (We all struggle to communicate our feelings and emotions at one time or another!)

Kids (and older…adults included) of all ages and developmental levels have a need to build on their self-regulation skills. Building self-regulation skills allows kids to deal with their emotions in appropriate and functional ways.

When a child is able to control their emotions, they can adjust to situations while managing their feelings and behaviors.

Using a lion and lamb metaphor is a concrete way for kids to learn about and understand self-regulation. Many times, kids understand when their body or brain is not in control. Situations can get away from a child, when they are unable to react or respond in an appropriate manner.

Kids can use the idea of a lion and lamb to understand different ways that they might be feeling. This activity should be done in a separate time from breakdowns or tantrums. When a child is calm and open to talking about previous situations, sit down with the child or group of children and talk about how it might feel to be a
lion and a lamb.

How to use this self-regulation tool:

  • Ask the user to list out different ways a lion and a lamb might feel or behave. Write down different ways to describe a lion and a lamb.
  • Talk about how lions are load and fast and how a lamb is calm and quiet.
  • For younger users, consider writing down their responses as they dictate words that describe a lion or lamb.
  • Then, look at the whole list for each animal. At this point, you can talk with the client/student about how we all feel all of these ways at one time or another. Sometimes we feel soft-spoken and slow and other times we feel loud and “roar-y”!
  • Use the lion and lamb metaphor to help kids adjust in appropriate ways.
  • You can tell your child or students that there are times that it is appropriate to “be a lion” and there are times that it is appropriate to “be a lamb”.
  • Then cover various coping tools, self-regulation strategies, and other means to support potential self-regulation needs.


You’ll find 6 different paper types in this packet to incorporate handwriting needs into the activity.

Then, users can use the language that they have listed to address feelings or emotions. Create a strategy when they feel a certain way. Lion feelings might indicate a need for calming input or heavy work. Lamb feelings might need alerting input. This is a great tool to start talking about various needs and social emotional learning!

Want to add this resource to your therapy toolbox so you can help kids thrive? Enter your email into the form below to access this printable tool.

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Free Lion & Lamb Self-Regulation Tool

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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.

    How to Support Self-Regulation in Preschoolers

    Here we are discussing the topic of how to support Self-Regulation in Preschoolers. For our youngest students, identifying emotions, and using self-regulation strategies for preschoolers is just hard. The preschool and Pre-K years are a time to work on emotional regulation through play and experience. Occupational therapy professionals can be a support and a service for parents, teachers, AND preschoolers in OT in the preschool years. Let’s break this down a bit…

    Self-regulation in preschoolers

    This blog includes 5 simple ways to support a preschool child’s ability to regulate their emotions using age appropriate strategies.  

    Self Regulation in Preschool

    Young children feel their emotions before they know what they mean. The first step to responding to a child’s behavior is to understand what they are feeling when they are having trouble with regulation. Sometimes children need others to co-regulate while other times they need time on their own to self-regulate.

    When four year old, Anglea, screams at the top of her lungs, we hear the scream, but we don’t feel what she is feeling. The first step to responding to a child’s behavior is to understand how they are feeling.

    In order to do this, we need to take a step back and remember what it feels like when we become upset. Do you remember the last time that you were frustrated and wanted to scream? 

    Like the time that you were running late and you had to stop at every single stop light on the way to the grocery store. You are feeling annoyed right now, but you can deal with it. Then, the only open parking spot was at the every end of the parking lot (and it was next to a HUGE SUV that parked over their side of the line.) Ugh. You feel your fists clenching a bit as you try to squeeze out of your door. 

    When you walk up to the store, there are no grocery baskets. You walk back to the return basket spot in the parking lot to get a soaking wet basket. You roll your eyes as your patience is tempted. As soon as you walk into the store, you realize the shopping cart you picked is one that “squeals” across the floor. That’s it. You have had enough but you made it into the store and you are going to grab the milk that your two year old wants so she will sleep through the night tonight.

    As you rush to the milk aisle, you gasp as the only 2% milk left is the one she won’t drink. Your heart starts to race and you feel like crying. The last thing you want to do is go to another grocery store after the ordeal you already have had. So you grab the off brand milk and say a little prayer that she will drink it tonight. 

    You’ve had a rough day, but you are almost done. After standing in the 20 minute checkout line (because for some reason the grocery store decided to only have TWO checkout lines open at 5pm on a Friday) you are now able to load your groceries onto the conveyor belt. 

    You’re next in line. You text your husband that you are hurrying as fast as you can and then the worst thing happens. Over the loud speaker, a voice says “Sorry customers. Due to a technical difficulty, we are only able to accept cash or check. No credit cards are able to be processed.” 

    How do you feel now? You take three deep breaths as you are trying your best not to scream. You want to fall on the floor and maybe cry? Or you want to toss the milk to the side and run out the door screaming.

    You are so upset that you are having a hard time regulating.

    But you don’t. You leave the cart, walk to your car (saying some words under your breath) and head to the other grocery store for milk.

    Now picture your preschooler feeling that same way. What do they do? 

    Development of self regulation in preschoolers

    Development of Self-Regulation Skills

    Preschoolers need to practice self-regulating skills before they can control their responses. This foundational skill will help them manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Self-regulation skills develop over time. According to this article, even babies are able to self-regulate.

    The article states that in infancy, babies are able to self-regulate through strategies:

    • Shifting attention or averting gaze when overwhelmed
    • Self-soothing by sucking fingers or a pacifier to reduce distress

    As children gain new skills, they are able to self- regulate in different ways. This same article discussed the next steps in self-regulation development in the toddler years:

    The article describes toddler’s abilities to self-regulate through strategies such as: 

    • Focusing attention for short periods  
    • Adjusting behavior to achieve goals  
    • Beginning to label feelings  
    • Briefly delaying gratification  
    • Turning to adults for help with strong feelings 

    Self-regulation development continues in the preschool years. For kids ages 3-5, self-regulation is experienced in preschool-aged children through strategies such as:  

    • “Recognizing a growing array of feelings in self and others  
    • Identifying solutions to simple problems  
    • With support, using strategies like deep breaths and self-talk to calm down  
    • Focusing attention and persisting on difficult tasks for increased lengths of time
    • Perspective-taking and early empathy”
    Self regulation strategies for preschool students

    Preschool Self-Regulation

    Preschoolers love to engage in hands-on activities that teach a variety of concepts. One of the most important concepts is self-regulation. This skill can be taught and practiced at home, at school and out in the community. As children experience the world, there are so many different external circumstances that can trigger a child’s emotions. Each of these experiences gives preschoolers the opportunity to practice self-regulation techniques that they have learned. 

    Here are 5 ways to teach self regulation strategies to preschoolers:

    1. Soothing Sammy:

    Soothing Sammy is a preschool self-regulation strategy that uses an adorable golden retriever teaches children how to use their sensory system to calm down. The book, plush and playful activities all work together to help children create their own sensory basket they can visit whenever they need some extra calm down tools. With two simple words, “Sammy Time,” your preschoolers will be redirected to visit Sammy, the plush, at his house, use a cup of water, spot to jump or other sensory materials, to calm down. Once calm, children are able to talk about their feelings and problem solve. Soothing Sammy is perfect for classrooms and homes!

    2. Proprioceptive and Movement Based Input:

    Taking a heavy work movement break is a great way to redirect ourselves (like when we go for a run or go to the gym to cool down). This works for preschoolers also. Our other article includes over 50 ideas on how to help children calm down, including movement based input such as taking a walk and rocking back and forth in a chair. When we include proprioceptive input while moving, joint compression increases the ability for us to calm down fast! Some ideas include stomping, squeezing playdough, and stretching! 

    3. Calming Nature Sensory Bottle:

    Looking at calming visuals, like this calming nature sensory bottle, helps redirect our attention to something interesting and beautiful. These easy sensory bottle creation not only supports visual aesthetics, but it also reminds children of being outdoors in nature. This sensory bottle would be a great addition to the Soothing Sammy program.

    4. Emotional Vocabulary:

    Understanding how to describe our feelings, not only keeps us calm, but also helps us communicate our feelings to others. When children learn the words that match their feelings, they are able to come up with solutions with peers and adults. Playing emotion games, like the ones included in this article, will help even the smallest of children remember emotion words during times of stress. 

    5. Pretend Play: 

    Children learn so much while they play. Playing with peers and also participating in pretend play, allows children to act out scenes from different situations. These situations can be happy ones, stressful ones, adventurous ones and so much more! The use of puppets, baby dolls and dramatic play materials helps children formulate situations, discover different responses and make plans for if certain experiences happen in real life. This article goes into more detail about the importance of pretend play in social development.

    As children grow and develop, they experience the world in a variety of different ways. Sometimes everything goes as they planned, and other times, there are unexpected situations where they will need to manage their emotions. By teaching children self-regulation strategies, they will be able to respond to their emotions in a positive way, calmly plan their response and move forward with their day. 

    Jeana Kinne is a veteran preschool teacher and director. She has over 20 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Her Bachelors Degree is in Child Development and her Masters Degree is in Early Childhood Education. She has spent over 10 years as a coach, working with Parents and Preschool Teachers, and another 10 years working with infants and toddlers with special needs. She is also the author of the “Sammy the Golden Dog” series, teaching children important skills through play.

    Relaxation Breathing: a Powerful Tool

    3 powerful relaxation breathing strategies

    If you’ve been a reader of The OT Toolbox website for long, you’ve probably seen our many deep breathing exercises. But have you ever wondered about HOW relaxation breathing works physically? How does the body calm as a result of mindful breathing strategies? Let’s explore the science of what’s going on with this breathing tool…and try out a few powerful relaxation breathing strategies.

    Relaxation breathing as a calming strategy for kids

    What is RELAXATION BREATHING?

    Relaxation breathing is a mindful approach at deep breathing as a strategy for resetting the body. Relaxation breathing includes a deep breath followed by holding that breath for a short period (6-7 seconds), and then slowly releasing the breath over a period of about 8 seconds. This slow approach to deep breaths resets the nervous system so that we can calm the body.

    This style of breath focus allows one to calm the body, manage anxiety, and self-regulate in different ways.

    With relaxation breaths, you’ll notice a few changes to the body:

    • Relaxation breathing slows the heart rate
    • Relaxing breath control allows the body to gains a sense of awareness
    • Relaxation breathing adds calming proprioceptive input through the movement of the ribs when deep breaths are taken in, held, and slowly released. This movement of the ribcage release tension and move blood through the kidneys or renal system through internal proprioceptive input.
    • When the renal system calms the adrenal glands, the production of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol are impacted, resulting in a lower state of stress.
    • Relaxation breathing engages the parasympathetic fibers in the membranes around the lungs, and has a calming effect.
    Try these 3 powerful relaxation breathing strategies with kids.

    3 Powerful Relaxation Breathing Strategies

    What’s more, studies have found that parasympathetic activity and CNS activities are related to emotional control and psychological well-being in healthy subjects during slow, relaxing breathing techniques.

    Here, we’ll cover 3 different ways to elicit the relaxation response:

    1. 4, 7, 8 breathing
    2. Breathing with the tongue on the roof of the mouth
    3. Nose Breathing

    4, 7, 8 Breathing

    Have you heard the term 4, 7, 8 breathing?

    4, 7, 8 breathing is a deep breathing strategy where a deep breath is breathed in for a count of four. The breath is then held for a count of 7, and then breathed out for a count of 8.

    During the time when the breath is held for a count of 7, you will notice that you can feel your lungs and ribs continue to expand. Try it!

    When that expansion occurs, the fibers in the lungs stretch. This “extra breath” is a powerful calming period. The ribcage expands more during this period, offering greater proprioceptive input, and activating the vagus nerve, which has a relaxing effect.

    Breathing out for a count of 8 has the same impact, where the longer breath period again moves the ribcage in a downward motion. Emptying the lungs pushes more air out and continues to offer that calming effect.

    In this way, 4, 7, 8 breathing is a relaxation strategy because the counts and time of breaths in, held breath, and breathing out trigger a relaxation response.

    Try 4 7 8 breathing for yourself!

    breathing with tongue on roof of mouth

    Another calming breathing strategy is the tongue posture with breathing with tongue on roof of mouth.

    In this relaxation strategy, the tongue rests on the roof of the mouth for a simple reason: this tongue posture ensures that the individual is breathing in and out through the nose.

    Also, when one is breathing with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, the tongue adds proprioceptive input through the palate in a calming manner.

    Try breathing with your tongue on the roof of your mouth for yourself!

    Breathing through the nose

    As explained above, when the tongue is resting on the roof of the mouth, nose breathing is ensured. Here’s why that is important:

    When breathing in and out with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, nose breathing is enabled, and the parasympathetic response results in relaxation.

    When breathing though the nose, the structures of the nose actually regulate airflow and slows the flow of air because of the those physiologic structures.

    This PDF titled The Healing Power of the Breath explains more.

    Try breathing through your nose for yourself!

    Relaxation Breath Strategies

    Hopefully, these relaxation breath strategies have offered some explanation on how deep breathing in both the 4, 7, 8 method, nose breathing, and breathing with the tongue on the roof of the mouth are powerful relaxation breath tools to use in self-regulation and coping.

    Try these additional relaxing breathing activities paired with the breath strategies listed above.

    Deep breathing exercise cards in playing card size for games and sensory needs
    Deep Breathing Exercise Cards

    Help kids with coping strategies using themed, practical belly breathing strategies that work.

    • Includes A-Z alphabet exercises for whole body exercises
    • 9 different themes to use in learning or therapy themes
    • Oral motor exercises for heavy proprioceptive input through the mouth, tongue, and lips
    • Exercises that can be used any time or anywhere!

    Need help getting kids to focus, pay attention, or calm worries? Need help with self-regulation in a calm-alert, ready-to-go state, so they can learn, play, and function?

    Achieving a self-regulated state of focus, attention, and being ready to go doesn’t need fancy therapy equipment or sensory tools. Deep breathing exercises are tools that we can all use, any time, and any place!

    These deep breathing exercise cards includes 113 different deep breathing exercises that can be printed and used in therapy, home programs, the classroom or at home.

    Grab your copy of Deep Breathing Exercise Cards here.

    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.

    Snow Globe Breath Awareness

    snow globe breath awareness exercise

    Here, you’ll find a printable snow globe activity designed for breath awareness. This breath awareness practice uses a snow globe theme. Paired with other deep breathing exercises, this resource is a concreate way to help kids develop breath awareness as a coping tool for self-care and mindful breathing.

    Add this snow globe breathing exercise to a snow globe theme, including our recent snow globe letter matching puzzles.

    Snow globe breath awareness exercise for kids to use in mindful breathing with a snow globe theme.

    Breath Awareness

    Mental health struggles are so overlooked and underdiagnosed.  Recently a push for mental health awareness has gained some traction.  If you are or know someone who is struggling, you know how difficult it is to get the right help.  Waiting lists to see a doctor can seem like a mile long. Getting in to see the right specialist takes time and persistence.  

    In the meantime, or to prevent further damage, a little self care can go a long way. Before taking on all of the challenges of the the classroom, learning, or functioning in general, take time for a little self care. 

    When we use breath awareness strategies as a tool for self-care, we are becoming more mindful of how our breath impacts regulation. Breath awareness results in a calmer state. This in turn allows for mindful participation, or being present in the moment, rather than a focus on internal or external stressors.

    This strategy can help with breath control as well. Try to settle the snow globe with slow and steady breaths from the bottom of the lungs. A long and slowed breath can help to calm the whole body, so when imagining a snow globe, use that long and slow breath to settle the snow, not stir it up.

    Don’t let it add to your stress as one more thing to do, but take five minutes to remind yourself of the possibilities each day.

    In addition to finding help and working on self care, becoming more aware of breath and it’s impact on the body and mind is an excellent step to reducing stress and improving mental health.

    Snow Globe Meditation

    The OT Toolbox has several excellent printables and tools to help develop strategies for reducing stress, decreasing arousal level, or improving focus. The newest printable in the Deep Breathing Series is our Snow Globe Deep Breathing Printable. 

    The snow globe meditation tool you’ll find below is a printable PDF breathing exercise. Beyond the easy usability with this printable deep breathing exercise, is the way that it can be used in conjunction with a real snow globe.

    A snow globe is a powerful tool for meditation. If you’ve ever shaken up a snow globe, then you probably can picture the sense of calmness that comes over you as you watch the snow inside the globe first swirl furiously and then slowly settle to the bottom of the glass globe.

    This imagery can be paralleled to internal stressors.

    When we feel stressed by thoughts, emotions, or external stimulants, you might feel like a swirling storm is inside of you. It’s hard to focus on a thought just like it’s difficult to focus on one swirling snowflake in a winter storm. But, with time, the snow slows and settles to the bottom of the snowglobe.

    You can use a snow globe imagery to help kids feel calm and focus on breath awareness as a self-regulation tool.

    Snow Globe Breath Awareness Tool

    To use this page, begin by having kid identify their emotions and feelings. Help them to become more aware of breath by describing their breathing, focus, stress levels as swirling like a shaken up snow globe.

    Then put your finger on the first white dot. Trace the arrow and take a deep breath in. Pause at the end of the arrow and breathe out.  Continue around the image several times while breathing.

    Then ask kids to describe their emotions, heartbeat, feelings, and breathing. Ask the user to identify how their breathing and other identifiers have changed. Are they feeling more like a settled snow globe? Or do they still feel “shaken up” and swirling? If so, repeat the breath awareness exercise.

    What else can I use the Breath Awareness Printable for?

    In sensory speak this activity can be used for modulation and improving arousal level.  This basically means practicing self regulation and calming, by focusing the energy on a single activity rather than the offending or overwhelming sensory input.

    This Breath Awareness PDF can also be used to improve focus.  Learners can practice channeling their energy onto the page to begin to learn to attend to one item at a time.  This will help practice self control.

    Mindfulness is not new.  It has been around for centuries. In western medicine, mindfulness is commonly taught in dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT treatment. According to the writers at Mindful, “mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.”

    The OT Toolbox has an informative page of resources for mindfulness.  Check it out!

    While learning DBT, I tried to learn mindfulness.  I learned I am not good at it.  I can not slow my mind enough to sit without doing or thinking.  As a DBT activity, I clocked how many thoughts went through my head in 60 seconds.  I had over 20 different thoughts one of the days I tried this task.  I one minute!  Imagine people who meditate and are proficient at mindfulness can sit for HOURS thinking of nothing, just listening to nature or attending to their breathing. 

    That’s where this snow globe breath awareness task comes in as a mindfulness tool to help identify breathing and overall awareness.

    How can I modify this activity?

    • Laminate this PDF to make it reusable
    • Print in full color to make it more motivating
    • Instead of deep breathing, use the activity to place coins on each of the dots, then use the pointer finger to slide to the next arrow.  This develops in hand manipulation.
    • Create a modulation kit of printables, and other sensory items to work on self regulation, stress reduction, and attention/focus. The OT Toolbox has several printable deep breathing exercises and a pack of cards to specifically address this goal year-round.

    What other strategies can I use for calming and organizing?

    • Winter Mindfulness Activities
    • Sensory fidgets such a putty, koosh balls, coil bracelets
    • Chewing gum
    • Journaling and creative writing
    • Aromatherapy
    • Heavy work
    • Exercise/yoga/Pilates/walking
    • Pet therapy 
    • Music
    • The list is endless, work with each of your learners to find out what helps them with their self care

    Free Snow Globe Breath Awareness Printable

    Want to download a copy of this snow globe breathing exercise? Enter your email address into the form below to access this printable tool. Note that this resource is also available for immediate download inside the OT Toolbox Member’s Club. Members can grab the PDF immediately simply by clicking a button.

    Snow Globe Breath Awareness Exercise

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      With all of the holiday fun and excitement, do take time out for self care and deep breathing.  It will be worth it!

      Just keep breathing!

      Victoria Wood, OTR/L

      Victoria Wood

      Victoria Wood, OTR/L has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

      Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

      Star of David Printable Deep Breathing Activity

      Star of David Printable Deep Breathing exercise

      Today I have another one of our mindfulness activities: a Star of David Printable that focuses on deep breathing. This particular deep breathing exercise was a special request by dozens of our readers. So, I knew that for those teaching or providing therapy services to kids in Jewish schools and homes, this would be a big hit.

      Star of David printable deep breathing exercise

      Star of David Printable Deep Breathing Exercise

      You’ve probably seen our other holiday and seasonal deep breathing exercises. They all focus on offering a fun and motivating way for kids to reset.

      Deep breathing strategies can help kids calm down, focus, and to re-group when they need to specifically focus on mindful participation in activities. It’s a powerful calming strategy.

      That’s where this Star of David Printable comes into play. It can be used during Hanukkah, or it can be used any time of year!

      Incorporate this deep breathing tool into other seasonal and themed activities:

      Free Star of David Printable for Deep Breathing

      Want to print off your copy of this free Star of David printable for deep breathing and mindfulness? Enter your email address into the form below to access this resource.

      Note that this printable is also found inside our Member’s Club. Members can log into their account and access it, along with hundreds of other printable resources, tools, activities, and crafts to help kids thrive.

      Free Star of David 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.

        What if you had themed, NO-PREP activities designed to collect data and can help kids build essential fine motor skills?

        Take back your time and start the year off with a bang with these done-for-you fine motor plans to help kids form stronger hands with our Winter Fine Motor Kit. This print-and-go winter fine motor kit includes no-prep fine motor activities to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, winter-themed, fine motor activities so you can help children develop strong fine motor skills in a digital world. 

        The Winter Fine Motor Kit includes reproducible activity pages include: pencil control strips, scissor skills strips, simple and complex cutting shapes, lacing cards, toothpick precision art, crumble hand strengthening crafts, memory cards, coloring activities, and so much more.

        Emotional Regulation Games

        emotional regulation games

        If you are looking for tools to support and develop self-regulation skills, then you are in the right place. In this post, you’ll find emotional regulation games for self-regulation and specifically, Zones of Regulation games. These children’s games for emotional awareness and self-regulation were selected because they are fun ways to support emotional regulation, self-control, and social emotional skills through game play. And, importantly, they support and teach the Zones of Regulation program by playing games. Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of children’s books to teach the Zones of Regulation, too!

        Emotional regulation games to support emotional awareness an self-regulation and teach Zones of Regulation or other regulation curriculum.

        Emotional regulation Games

        Using over-the-counter games as emotional awareness tools is a cheap and creative way to foster the engagement of children in the learning process of emotional awareness and self-regulation. 

        Children love playing games and using them in this manner provides a great therapeutic tool for kids to practice these important skills.  Granted, some games do help children work on self-regulation naturally while others need just a little adaptation to make them worthy of being called self-regulation and emotional awareness tools.  

        How to use games to support emotional regulation

        How exactly do you use over-the-counter games to help children learn about feelings and emotions?

        Think about how the simple playing of a game or just a slight adaptation to the game can create the just right therapeutic activity to help children work on identifying and expressing feelings and emotions. Maybe just adding simple facial expressions, emojis, or even a descriptive word to the board, tokens, spinner, or the game cards could give the ‘just right’ challenge for a child. 

        How exactly do you use over-the-counter games to help children learn self-regulation skills

        Think about how playing these games naturally can help children to practice emotional regulation skills:

        • Recalling the rules
        • Keeping their focus
        • Attention to game play and the play of others
        • Accepting and coping with winning and losing
        • Flexibility of thinking as they play against an opponent
        • Inhibition of impulses during play

        These are all necessary skills that are directly related to self-regulation. 

        Zones of Regulation Games

        Take the time to consider how you may be able to adapt or modify an over-the-counter game allowing game play to incorporate regulation and emotional awareness programs such as, The Zones of Regulation®, The Alert Program®, and SuperFlex…A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum®.

        Maybe just adding the colors from these curriculums like red, orange, yellow, green, and blue might be all you need to do to easily add-in learning of these curriculum concepts during play. 

        Adapted Over-the-Counter Games

        Over-the-counter games are a great go-to and others have taken the time to do just what is discussed here.  Read on to discover some of the fun ways that others have used to address these important skills with children of all ages.

        Amazon affiliate links are included below.

        Don’t Break the Ice Coping: This game can be used to help children learn and discuss coping strategies by having them perform the techniques or discuss strategies that are printed on each ice block. Makes a wonderful self-regulation game by simply just writing on the blocks – easy! 

        Grab Don’t Break the Ice HERE.

        Don’t Break the Ice Worries: This game was adapted with the simple use of dots and 4 questions. How easy is that? Makes it a unique way to have children share about worries, what happens in their bodies, gain some understanding, and learn helpful coping strategies. 

        Grab Don’t Break the Ice HERE.

        Connect 4 Emotions: This game is adapted by simply placing emotions stickers on the red and yellow chips and when a player picks up a piece to place it, they must share a time that they have felt that emotion. This can easily be used to identify emotions or even identify an appropriate coping strategy to deal with an emotion.

        Grab Connect 4 HERE.

        Emotions Twister: This is a super fun way to work on emotions while using the Twister mat and incorporating the Zones of Regulation® colors by drawing facial expressions on the dots! Makes for a great supplement to the curriculum! 

        Grab Twister HERE.

        Emotions Uno: Using a deck of Uno cards, children talk about the emotions related to the card colors with an adult providing subject prompts. Children can talk about experiences and the emotions they felt during those times.

        Grab UNO HERE.

        Feelings Jenga or Exploring Emotions Jenga: This is a fun way to help children explore and talk about feelings and emotions by having children answer questions related to specific emotions. Makes a great tool to use in small groups!

        Grab Jenga HERE.

        Feelings Mancala: This old-time game has been turned into a game for emotional awareness and development. Facial stickers are placed into the bottom of each hole on the board and then the game is played with each player sharing about a time they felt a particular feeling or emotion. 

        Grab Mancala HERE.

        Another idea is to simply use the Jeepers Peepers Guessing Game Glasses or the Hedbanz Headbands with cards from the Superflex curriculum. Children don the glasses or headbands from these games and then place the Thinkable or Unthinkable cards onto the glasses or headbands and have a child try to describe them.

        Grab Headbanz HERE.

        Classic Games to teach emotional regulation

        How about trying some of the classic games or even classic toys that we all know and love but that do not require the use of a board game?  That’s right.  Enjoy these fun ideas designed for children to learn about emotions and feelings as well as self-regulation and coping. 

        Feelings Matchbox Cars Parking Lot: Kids love Hot Wheels and Matchbox Cars and there are cars designed for every child’s interest.  But have you thought about using them to park in spots of a feelings and coping parking lot? Makes an easy DIY activity using some classic toys! 

        Grab Matchbox Cars HERE.

        Hopscotch: This is a super easy gross motor activity that kids can use to identify and discuss emotions and feelings.  Makes a classic turn into a newbie! 

        Grab this Portable Hopscotch Board (with Zones Colors) HERE.

        Hula Hoops and Zone of Regulation: Everyone loves to try using a Hula Hoop!  Kids and adults alike will pick one up and try to play with it.  This activity uses this fun classic toy by helping children identify the different zones and what makes one be in that zone. So, they are learning about the feelings while also learning about curriculum concepts. 

        Grab a Hula Hoop set in Zones colors HERE.

        Zones of Regulation Lego Towers: Kids enjoy building with Legos and they have been a core toy for years and years. Children see Legos and they immediately go to them and begin creating something fun! Try using them to create some fun Lego Towers that helps children identify emotions, feelings, and coping strategies. Makes for Lego love on a whole new level! 

        Grab DUPLO blocks HERE. (larger blocks)

        Grab LEGO blocks HERE. (Smaller blocks for hand strengthening)

        Social Emotional Games

        Maybe you have the money to spend on actual board games that address the skills of emotional awareness and self-regulation.  If so, take a look at these fun games designed just for that purpose!

        BBQ Emotions – This game has large skewers that help children to recognize and manage 10 different emotions. Children will discuss them and how to deal with them as if they are ingredients. This makes for a fun game that can be played individually or in a small group. 

        Grab BBQ Emotions HERE.

        Emotion-oes – This fun domino game helps children to recognize and identify emotions by matching the pieces just as they would if playing regular dominoes.

        Emotional Roller Coaster – This anger management game helps children learn coping and calm down strategies when they are experiencing the feeling of anger.

        Grab Emotional Roller Coaster HERE. 

        Emotions Bingo – This simple bingo game helps children to recognize and identify emotions by scanning and matching the pieces just as they would if playing regular bingo. It helps kids to talk about how to handle feelings in a healthy way.

        Grab Emotions BINGO HERE.

        Grab Emotions BINGO for Teens HERE.

        My Feelings Game – This game has 280 scenarios that help children to express their feelings and how to cope with them appropriately. 

        Grab My Feelings Game HERE.

        Social Skills Board Games – This is a set of board games designed to help children work together to improve their overall social skills and can help children to learn about their feelings and the feelings of others. One particular board game is designed to show emotions and how to manage them.

        Grab this 6 Pack of Conflict Resolution Games HERE.

        No Waries – This game is a social emotional card game that helps children to learn about and understand emotions and in turn, helps them to acquire important social emotional skills.

        Grab No Waries HERE.

        So, get brave and use your over-the-counter OT eye to find a game or toy that you can use to help a child build or develop important social-emotional skills while having some creative fun!

        Regina Allen

        Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

        Ghost Deep Breathing Exercise

        Today I have a fun mindfulness exercise for kids…a ghost deep breathing exercise! This deep breathing exercise is great for Halloween or adding to a ghost theme in therapy, the classroom, or home during the month of October, when self-regulation can use the fun of Halloween and ghosts with major calming benefits. You can grab this free mindfulness printable below!

        This ghost themed activity is a powerful self-regulation activity for kids this time of year!

        ghost deep breathing exercise for self-regulation for kids with a ghost theme

        Ghost Deep Breathing Exercise

        If you’ve been reading The OT Toolbox for long, you may have seen our pumpkin deep breathing exercise printable and our spider web deep breathing exercise. Both are fun ways to add a holiday theme to self-regulation needs.

        Today’s Ghost Breathing Exercise is another fun Halloween themed therapy tool to use with kids!

        For more mindfulness exercises, you can check out the other deep breathing exercises here on the site.

        I love this deep breathing tool because it has a fun ghostly “woooo-hoooo” addition where kids can add their own fun and non-spooky ghost noises as they slowly breathe out.

        Add this resource to ghost themed therapy activities or calming exercises all during the month of October. It may even be a good way to get excited ghosts and goblins to calm down before a big Halloween party!

        More ghost activities

        This self-regulation tool is a great addition to these other ghost activities that build skills:

        • Ghost sensory bin (make bread ties into ghosts for fine motor sensory play!)
        • Ghost craft– This simple ghost craft develops scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and more.
        • Ghost Catch Game– All you need is a recycled milk carton and an old sock for bilateral coordination, crossing midline, gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, core strength, and more.
        • Ghost Cookies– Baking with kids is such an awesome way to develop executive functioning skills. These ghost cookies are spooky fun!

        Free Deep Breathing Exercise

        You can print off this ghost deep breathing printable and use it in therapy sessions all month long!

        Enter your email address into the form below to access this freebie.

        Free Ghost 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.

          Don’t miss this pumpkin activity kit for fine motor skill work all month long!

          Pumpkin activity kit
          Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit

          Paper Plate Activities

          Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts for occupational therapy

          In occupational therapy, paper plate activities are one of those OT intervention tools that are low-cost and can be used in a multitude of ways to support many different developmental skills. From paper plate interactive activities, to scissor activities, to fine motor development, paper plate crafts and sensory activities can be used to promote many skill areas in occupational therapy interventions or at home and in the classroom.

          Paper plate activities and paper plate crafts to develop skills like fine motor skills, social emotional skills, and gross motor skills.

          Paper Plate Activities

          I get really excited when I talk about the next subject – paper plate activities! Paper plate crafts and activities are so fun and often require very little materials with the end result being so wonderful for kids! 

          Paper plates can easily be used for arts and crafts, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, subject or topic learning, visual motor and perceptual skills, emotions and self-regulation as well as a myriad of games.

          Paper plates can be a go-to when you need a quick activity in any setting or on those cold, rainy days when you need something to keep the kids busy. They are a great motivator for kids and can help build important skills that a child needs to continue to learn and to grow. 

          Paper plates are a thrifty tool for therapy to build those motor and perceptual skills while providing a fun activity that any child will want to engage in during sessions. The use of paper plates in the classroom can be for exploring emotions and self-regulation, creating after reading a book and lots of subject and topic learning fun. Their use in the home can include arts and crafts, instrument making, and games that result in some fantastic family entertainment.

          Paper plates will give you the variety you need to help many kiddos on your caseload, in your classroom, or in your household. So, the next time you’re at the store, grab some plain or even festive paper plates and see what fun you can create with kids and you may find that you enjoy the fun too! 

          Use these paper plate crafts to work on scissor skills, hand strength, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, and more.

          Paper Plate Crafts

          In occupational therapy interventions, we often use crafts as a medium for developing skills (taking us back to our roots of our profession!) These paper plate crafts are great for developing fine motor skills, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, motor planning, executive functioning skills, and more.

          • Mini Beach– Work on hand strength, utensil use, and more to make a paper plate beach craft.
          • Paper Bowl Scarecrow Craft– Use this paper plate craft to work on fine motor skills like precision, dexterity, and mixed medium use. Add in emotional learning to make the scarecrow personalized. Kids can take this craft and add their own unique twists for a multi-sensory craft with open-ended results.
          • Paper Plate Snail Craft– Work on precision, in-hand manipulation, arch development, and other fine motor skills with this paper plate snail craft.
          • Paper Plate Cars This craft is great for addressing scissor skills.
          • Paper Plate Baseball Craft– Improve scissor skills with this paper plate baseball craft.
          • Paper Plate Bubble Gum Machine Craft– Work on eye-hand coordination skills.
          • Thanksgiving Feast Plate – Use this craft to work on functional tasks such as meal skills and utensil use, as well as hand strength.
          • Tin Foil Moon– This is a great craft for working on graded hand strength and bilateral coordination skills.

          Paper Plate Activities for Emotions and Self- Regulation

          The best thing about occupational therapy professionals is that they can use ANY material to work on a variety of skill areas. Use paper plates to address social emotional learning and self-regulation skills!

          Paper Plate Fine Motor Activities

          Paper plates are a great fine motor activity to support hand strengthening, scissor skills, bilateral coordination, and more.

          Paper Plate Gross Motor Activities

          Paper plates can be used in therapy to support gross motor skills, too.

          Paper Plate Learning Activities

          Use these activities to work on functional tasks and executive functioning skills needed in daily occupations such as learning, math, using a phone, telling time, name writing, and more.

          Paper Plate Auditory Processing with Paper Plate Instruments

          You can use paper plates to work on auditory processing, too.

          Paper Plate Visual Motor Activities

          Paper plates are a great tool to use in therapy to address visual motor skills.

          Now, what are you waiting for? Go grab some paper plates and pick an activity!!

          Regina Allen

          Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!