‘Seeing Red’ and ‘Cool Down Cubes’

These fantastic intervention ideas come from Brandon Menikheim. They are great anger management tools! Mr. Menikheim earned a gift certificate to childtherapytoys.com for his submission. Learn how you can do the same!

When working with children, I find it especially important to develop ways to teach and engage them. Most students learn by association. If they have a concept that they can connect something visual to, the visual then serves as a reminder to them. Students remember the lessons I teach them better if I find a way to incorporate them into something familiar.

One strategy I used recently–and which appeared to be a big hit with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students–was a lesson on anger management. We started off by defining anger: “What does anger mean to you?” ”What do you think about when you think about the word anger?” Students frequently referenced the color red. We then took red food coloring and dropped it into a clear plastic cup of vinegar. As we continued our discussion about anger, we focused on warning signs and triggers that accompany or give way to those feelings. With every warning sign and trigger that was discussed we squirted a dropperful of red vinegar into a bowl of baking soda. Students were then asked what was happening in the bowl. It was a great way for them to visualize and quantify anger.

Each little thing that angers us causes something to “bubble up” inside of us. If we continue to allow it to bubble up it will eventually boil over. For this reason, it becomes increasingly important for us to find ways to cool down, to keep ourselves from bubbling over. To illustrate this I introduce a tray of ice cubes. Inside each ice cube is a laminated cool down strategy, frozen within it.  As seen from the attached picture, I created little rectangles with a strategy on it, and then I “laminated” it by using packing tape. After covering each rectangle with tape, I folded them long-ways so that it would fit into the ice cube hole by pressing itself up against the sides. The students task is then to melt the ice (without smashing or throwing it). Cooling down takes time; it’s a slow process and sometimes it isn’t as easy as we think. All of these characteristics are illustrated in the process of trying to melt the ice to get to the piece of paper inside. Students find the activity exciting, because they want to see what’s inside. When they reach it, they are enthusiastic about reading it and then ultimately sharing it with the rest of the group. While sharing, I encourage the students to practice the strategy if possible. This activity is especially good for a warm day, as it provides a great way to literally cool down!

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