This laminated Calm Down Thermometer Poster (17″ x 11″) can be used by teachers in the classroom or by therapists teaching the Dinosaur program. The thermometer is a visual representation of how to change emotions from “red hot mad” to “cool blue.” The poster has a brightly colored thermometer in the middle with a Velcro strip and arrow on the side. Students are taught to move the arrow up and down to show how they are feeling. Students who are feeling angry learn to take deep breaths or to use another calm-down strategy to get themselves back into the “blue zone.”
Tips for Using the Thermometer
During circle time teachers can teach children strategies for calming down when they are angry. Taking 3 deep breaths is one simple anger management strategy for young children. Pretending to go into an imaginary protective turtle shell is another simple strategy. The thermometer is used as a visual aid to illustrate how feelings can change from anger, frustration and disappointment (red hot zone) down to happy, relaxed and calm feelings (cool blue zone.) Eventually children learn to recognize when they are moving up into yellow or red and begin to use their calm down strategies to bring themselves back in to the blue or “cool” zone so they are able problem solve. Teachers can help children practice moving the thermometer arrow from red to blue as they calm down. Teachers and children can also practice taking deep breaths and repeating together, “I can do it, I can calm down, I can solve the problem” as the arrow comes down.
At first, the thermometer can be used with hypothetical situations raised by the teacher or puppets. After children are familiar with the basic calming strategies, the teacher can begin to prompt children to use the thermometer whenever s/he notices a child starting to dysregulate. The teacher can also praise the student for her strong work and prompt her to take deep breaths and use positive self-talk. Teachers may also model using these strategies themselves when they are frustrated.