Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens: Regulation Strategies to Focus, Calm, Think, Move, Breathe, and Connect – Zones of Regulation Series
Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens is a visually rich card deck designed to help adolescents explore a variety of self-regulation tools and strategies. Expanded from the book, The Zones of Regulation (Kuypers, 2011), Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens provides 50 practical, easy-to-use tools and strategies to help adolescents at the developmental ages 11-18+ explore, practice, and choose tools to help them self-regulate at home, in school, or in therapeutic and community settings.
The versatile, easy-to-follow cards are illustrated with lots of teen appeal—diverse and relatable tween-teen characters on oversize 4”x 6” cards with a large, readable, teen-friendly font. Expanding upon 22 strategies carried over from the Tools to Try Cards for Kids deck, they are now presented differently with language, level of maturity, and illustrations to engage the tween and teen user, along with 28 new, accessible, and subtle strategies. Also featured specifically for tweens and teens is the “Why to Try?” section on the card that explains the purpose and benefit of the strategy, as well as a metacognitive self-reflection area for adolescents to consider how the strategy works for them to regulate their Zones.
For best teaching practice, the card deck should be used in tandem with lessons from Chapter 4 in The Zones of Regulation curriculum book where tools are explored, as well as paired with other related Zones products, such as Navigating The Zones, and its supplemental Advanced Pack to extend play. Suitable for ages 11 and up.
What’s in the Tools to Try for Tweens & Teens strategy deck
Housed in a sturdy two-piece cardboard box, the portable card deck includes 4”x 6” strategy cards (50) and information and instruction cards (7) for the interventionist. The strategy cards are divided into five color-coded categories to show how the tools work in different ways to help social emotional learners self-regulate feelings and emotions:
FEEL IT These tools use our senses to support self-regulation and modulation.
MOVE IT These tools integrate physical activity to impact self-regulation and reduce anxiety.
THINK IT These tools provide thought-based strategies to help us self-regulate. DO IT Task and goal-oriented tools involve taking action.
DO IT Task and goal-oriented tools involve taking action.
CONNECT Co-regulation tools encourage empathy, thinking of others, and accessing relationships for support.
How to use the Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens
This learning tool can be used in multiple ways: explored tool by tool with a whole classroom of students, used as a therapy aid in a smaller setting, for family members and caregivers to explore with their adolescent, or for the tweens and teens to pick up and practice on their own. This multi-sensory teaching tool supports and encourages tweens and teens to reflect on which tools they find helpful as they are learning to regulate their Zones in real time, as well as provides ideas for tools to use when playing the Navigating The Zones game. In addition, the cards can be photocopied and sent home with adolescent to practice with caregivers or on their own; card decks can be used specifically within the home environment, as well. When exploring each tool, allow time for adolescents to first practice, then reflect on which Zone or Zones the tool might help to regulate. Reproducible R (page 112) from The Zones of Regulation curriculum helps track and monitor how the different tools affect them.
What are The Zones of Regulation?
Feelings come in different sizes, intensity, and levels of energy. To make this easy to talk and think about, we can categorize them into four simple, colored categories that we call Zones of Regulation.
The Blue Zone is used to describe low levels of energy and down feelings, such as when a person feels sad, tired, sick, or bored.
The Green Zone is used to describe when we feel calm and in control. A person may be described as happy, focused, content, or ready to learn when in the Green Zone. This is the Zone where optimal learning occurs.
The Yellow Zone is used to describe when our energy is higher and emotions get a little bigger; however, a person has more control when in the Yellow Zone. A person may be experiencing stress, frustration, anxiety, excitement, silliness, the wiggles, or nervousness when in the Yellow Zone.
The Red Zone is used to describe extremely high energy and intense feelings. A person may be feeling elated, anger, rage, devastation, out of control, or terrified when in the Red Zone.
Using tools to regulate Zones
Once we can identify how we are feeling and what Zone we are in, we decide if we need a tool to help us self-regulate. As you and the kids explore the different tools in the deck, encourage each student to consider the tools which help them when experiencing a specific Zone. Different children may find the same tool helpful in different ways. Therefore, we encourage interventionists to not tell students which tool to use, but instead allow students to explore and choose themselves which tool(s) will help them regulate within a specific Zone:
Blue Zone tools help us wake up, get energized, focus, or provide comfort.
Green Zone tools help us with everyday needs to feel good, be healthy, and stay organized. These tools may help keep us in the Green Zone and can be used proactively.
Yellow Zone tools help us feel calmer and in control.
Red Zone tools help us stop to gain control, feel safe and calmer.
Guidance for interventionists
2. Teach a variety of tools over time, providing time for adolescents to practice each tool and notice how the tool impacts them and can be used to regulate their Zones. Tools need to be practiced many times in order to become a more automatic response to self-regulate our Zones in real time.
3. Always provide the option to use a tool without forcing a choice. Empower tweens and teens to explore and determine which regulation tools work for them so they are motivated and involved in tool selection. Review and practice using previously taught tools periodically to keep them fresh in mind.
4. Model using tools yourself, highlighting how the different tools help you regulate your four Zones. It is important to create a climate where it is safe to recognize and discuss feelings and learn how to regulate them. Point out how even adults continue to work on these self-regulation skills throughout their lifetimes.
5. Acknowledge when adolescents make an attempt to “try” a tool, even if it doesn’t work in that moment. It is likely a step in the right direction. Praise for effort and allow time later for reflection on how the tool is working.
How do the cards tie into the other Zones products?
The Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens can be used to extend The Zones of Regulation curriculum instruction, for example, introducing a “tool of the week” to students from the card deck while exploring Chapter 4 lessons. Tools to Try Cards for Tweens & Teens can also be used in conjunction with Navigating The Zones cooperative game and Advanced Pack to provide visual aids to assist players in developing and expanding tool options to navigate The Zones.
This card deck is a supplement to, not a replacement for, the in-depth curriculum and lessons in The Zones of Regulation book.