Common Sense Review
Updated August 2012

Calm Counter - Social Story and Anger Management Tool

Simple, effective tool for helping kids keep anger in check
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Choose a male or female voice to lead kids through the calm-down exercise, or silent mode.
  • The social story helps kids realize everyone feels negative emotions, and how to calm them.
  • The "10" face and color clearly show anger, and then the app begins the countdown.
  • By "1," the color and face are much calmer, and kids are encouraged to breathe deeply.
The social story sets the stage for the real-time calming exercise.
Only one customizing option, and no way in-app to record kids' experience or progress.
Bottom Line
Calm Counter is an easy way to help kids help themselves feel better in seconds.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Engagement of the calming sort. There's nothing exciting or attention-grabbing here, but that's the point. The simple social story and real-time, centering exercise are both engaging, in a calm way.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

This app's focus is learning coping skills via the simple social story, which kids of a wide range of learning levels can comprehend, and then practicing those skills in real life through the calm counting exercise.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

The social story acts as a tutorial for the calming exercise. Other than that, there's no extra guidance or help, other than three narration choices (male, female, and silent).

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How Can Teachers Use It?

In the classroom, teachers should first read the social story or listen to it narrated with their students to help them understand the gentle calming method that's provided on the other half of the app. Calm Counter can be used as a general lesson on emotional intelligence for the entire class, or as individual support for students who are having frequent meltdowns or anger issues. (At first, teachers may want to help those students tap the calming tool whenever they get anxious or angry to show them how to do it as calmly and usefully as possible in emotion-filled moments to ensure the safety of the device and the student.) The Calm Counter exercise opens with the phrase, "I need a break." In conjunction with the use of this app, teachers may want to use that phrase when they are frustrated and model the Calm Counter method for students. Also, consider copying and posting the 10-to-1, color-coded faces somewhere in the classroom so students can be reminded of the method when not using the app.

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What's It Like?

Calm Counter is an emotions education and in-the-moment calming exercise app that can help kids learn how to handle stress, anxiety, and anger in a positive way. Calm Counter helps kids with special needs, social challenges, stress, anxiety, or anger issues learn self-awareness as they begin to identify when they need a break and practice calming down. 

The very brief, narrated social story that teachers should first present to students using this app models for kids how labeling their feelings helps  manage them. The story also helps kids become more self-aware and comfortable with anger, an emotion that the story reminds us happens to everyone. The exercise itself opens with a phrase kids will have heard in the social story: "I need a break." Then the screen turns bright red with a sad, mad face on it and the number 10. Kids tap the screen again, the screen color gets lighter and the face a little less angry and the number 9 is displayed. The colors, numbers, and faces continue to become lighter and happier with each tap, all the way to 1, where the kid is prompted to take a deep breath and see if they feel calmer.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Calm Counter can be exceptionally useful to help kids get their negative emotions in check and bring themselves back to center, for those kids for whom the old standby technique of counting to 10, breathing (with some extra visual and verbal support) works. For others, this may not be a sure bet. It would be helpful if the developer could include more optional settings, such as changing the colors and faces, especially for kids who may "feel" colors differently or prefer to draw their own angry and calmer faces. Kids who may tap the devices too firmly when angry may also not be a great fit to use this app without teacher involvement from start through completion.

Once they learn the method, Calm Counter empowers kids with a way to ask for a break in order to regain their emotional center in a healthy, concrete way.

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