I Can Calm Down
Show a photograph of an angry child (such as the emotions card from the Second Step social skills curriculum).
Ask the students, "Who gets angry sometimes?"
Say, "Yes, we all get mad sometimes. Today let's use the iPad to learn what we can do to calm down when we get angry."
Students will raise their hand or call out "me" to answer the questions.
2 Direct Instruction
Before you teach this lesson, you must use the iCreate Social Skills app on the iPad to create your own social story about strategies young children can use to regulate their anger and behavior. You use pictures, text, and record your voice to create the story.
During the lesson, you play the story on the iPad for your students. You can do this in small groups, or project the iPad screen if you have a document camera and a projector, and ideally, a wireless speaker so the whole class can hear the story well.j
After each page is read, model the emotion depicted or the strategy described. The pages of my story are as follows:
1. Sometimes I get angry. Being angry sometimes makes me want to hit other people. Oh no! That makes them sad. (Model an angry face, then a sad face)
2. When I am angry, my face feels tight and frowny. (model an angry face)
3. When I am mad, my body feels stiff. (model crossing arms and mad face)
4. When I feel myself start to get angry, I can stop and calm down (sign the word "stop" in sign language and make a calm face)
5. I can take deep breaths. First, I take a deep breath in. (model breathing in deeply)
6. Then I take a deep breath out. I can take as many deep breaths as I need to feel calm again. (model deep breathing)
7. Another way I can calm down is to stop and count to 10. (model counting to 10).
8. I can also walk away from the person who is making me mad. (model walking away)
9. Another way to calm down is to take a break. One good place for a break is the book area. I can read books or listen to the headphones until I feel calm again. (model walking to the book area and picking up a book)
10. There are many ways to calm down when I start to get mad. When I take deep breaths, count to 10, walk away, or take a break, I will start to feel good and happy again. Then I can go back to playing!
3 Guided Practice
After reading the story and modeling the pages, go back to the beginning of the iPad story. Project each page again one by one, and ask comprehension questions:
"How does he feel?"
"What is she doing to calm down in this picture?"
In addition to the questions, it is very important to guide the students in imitating the actions/emotions/strategies you modeled when you read the story the first time. Model each page again, and ask the students to practice it with you. This way, they gain an awareness of what their body feels like when angry, and they get to practice the strategies they can use when they get upset for real.
4 Independent Practice
For independent practice, make the iPad available to the students during Interest Areas (this is the free choice, facilitated play time for preschool classes using the Creative Curriculum). Allow the students to play the story in pairs in the Technology Area, with supervision. Encourage and facilitate them to role-play getting angry and then using the strategies in the Dramatic Play Area.
Take advantage of teachable moments in your classroom. When students get angry, remind them of the strategies from the social skills story and help them to practice them. Consider having a visual aid available, like a single laminated sheet depicted the different strategies, so the students can easily point to choose the one they would like to use. Replay the story often, so they remember the strategies. Role play the strategies often.