The Zones of Regulation: Tools to Try Cards for Kids
Learning to self-regulate our Zones is hard, serious work that takes time and lots of practice. Tools to Try Cards for Kids includes 51 4”x 6” tool cards and is an easy, user-friendly way to introduce over 50 self-regulation strategies to kids ages 5–10 and empower them to make choices toward figuring out what works best for them. For best teaching practice, the strategy card deck should be used in tandem with lessons introducing tools for use with Zones from Chapter 4 in the curriculum book, The Zones of Regulation, as well as paired with other related products, such as Navigating the Zones.
What’s in the Tools to Try for Kids strategy deck:
Housed in a sturdy two-piece cardboard box, the card deck includes 51 4”x 6” tool cards and 7 information and instruction cards for the interventionist. The two-sided 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 – Cognitive-based tools are aimed at changing our mindset.
DO IT – Task and goal-oriented tools involve taking action.
CONNECT – Co-regulation tools use empathy, thinking of others, and accessing relationships for support.
Each strategy card displays an illustration of the self-regulation tool performed by inclusive characters on one side and a how-to-do-it description on the reverse. Each card includes a metacognitive self-reflection where kids consider how they feel after using the tool, how it can be used to help them regulate their Zones, and decide whether it’s the right tool for them.
How to use the Tools to Try Cards
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 parents and caregivers to explore with their children, or for kids to pick up and practice on their own. This teaching tool also provides visual supports for the tools and encourages children to find specific tools helpful for learning to self-regulate in real-time within a specific Zone. In addition, the cards can be photocopied and sent home with kids to practice with caregivers; card decks can be used specifically within the home environment, as well. When exploring each tool, allow time for kids 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 kids 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.
Guidance for Interventionists
1. Use this card deck in conjunction with the lessons in The Zones of Regulation curriculum, the storybook set The Road to Regulation and The Regulation Station (coming January 2021), and Navigating The Zones cooperative game.
2. Teach a variety of tools over time, providing time for kids 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 kids to explore and determine which self-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 kids 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?
Tools to Try Cards can be used in conjunction with The Road to Regulation and The Regulation Station storybook series (coming in January 2021) which presents a kid-friendly introduction to The Zones of Regulation and how we use tools to regulate our Zones. The Tools to Try Cards can be used to follow up instruction, for example, introducing a “tool of the week” to students from the card deck as modeled in the storybook series.
Tools to Try Cards can also be used in conjunction with Navigating The Zones cooperative game to support play. Tools to Try Cards can be used as visual aids during play 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.