“It is natural to experience all of the zones; there is no ‘bad’ zone.”
The Zones of Regulation is a conceptual framework for self-regulation. It’s a system used to categorize feelings and states to improve the ability to recognize and communicate safely in a non-judgmental way.
There are 18 structured lessons and four-zone colors described in more detail below. There is a misconception that the green zone is the best, but there is a time and a place to be in the different zones.
Teaching students to “notice” their feelings will guide the behavior exhibited at school; for example, if they stress about a test, they can study more, or if the student feels tired, they could advocate resting for ten minutes. In addition, the zones create a baseline for self-awareness and self-reflection, which helps find coping skills that are effective for them.
Here is the website to the official site: https://zonesofregulation.com/index.html
The Zones of Regulation can be implemented with preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students, depending on their cognition level and maturity.
In addition, the Zones are designed for students with neurobiological and mental health disorders such as:
The Zones are designed to be adapted so as Occupational Therapists, we can grade and adapt the lessons to fit the needs of our students. It is the overarching social-emotional curriculum used at my charter school to provide consistency.
“Learn to use your emotions to think, not think with your emotions.”Robert Kiyosaki
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in acceptable ways.
Alertness is the state of active attention by high sensory awareness, such as being watchful and prompt to meet danger or an emergency or being quick to perceive and act.
Students must pay attention in their academic classes and balance their emotional responses in social interactions with adults and peers.
Middle and high school students can feel that the Zones are “childish,” but as Occupational Therapists, one of our strengths is grading and adapting the lesson to fit the individual.
Since we compete for their attention with social media like Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram, it’s essential to make the lessons intriguing and engaging.
Here are four games and two craft interventions you can utilize when teaching secondary students about the Zones of Regulation.
Jeopardy is an American game show with three contestants answering trivia questions from a board with six categories and five clues for two rounds. The clues contain dollar amounts in the first round from $200 to $1,000 and $400 to $2,000 in the second round, known as “Double Jeopardy.”
Contestants beep in with their response and have five to ten seconds to answer, and they must include the classic line “Who/What is….” Then, they collect the respective amount and select the next clue if answered correctly. If answered incorrectly, the contestant loses the respective amount, and another contestant has the opportunity to answer. If no one answers, the host reads aloud the correct answer, and the last successful player selects the clue.
Final Jeopardy has one question that requires the contest to set their dollar amount and write down their response. If answered correctly, they earn the amount betted, but if answered correctly, that is subtracted from their total accumulated. The winner is the contestant with the most money at the end of the final round of Jeopardy.
This list is based on individual preference and the students. I downloaded a Jeopardy template in Google Slides and then customized it. For example, the categories could be the zone colors, and the clues could be scenarios related to that zone color, but they would need to name the specific emotion or a coping strategy. There are specific definitions unique to the Zones curriculum you could also use. If you are not tech-savvy, the clues could be made on color-coordinated index cards and placed in a wall-hanging index card holder. Remember your buzzer so that the contestants can ring in.
This would be a great classroom or large group activity. Family Feud is an American game show where two families consisting of five people compete to answer survey questions. The survey questions were presented to 100 people, and the top responses ranked from the highest to the lowest. The number of responses from the 100 people determines the point value. The teacher would determine the survey questions and answers to simplify and save time.
The game begins with the first person from each Family facing off to answer a survey question. If one member replies with the number one response, they can decide if they want to play or pass, but if answered incorrectly, the other Family has a chance to steal. Continue for two or three rounds with the points doubled or tripled.
The Family with the most points advances to the “Fast Money” round. The host reads aloud five questions, and they rapidly answer within 25 seconds. Next, the second family member answers the same five questions, but repeating answers are prohibited. The idea is to answer the number one and two responses to get 200 points to win their money.
Like the game above, you can make your Family Feud game virtual or with index cards. If you purchased a buzzer, you’d also want to save it for this game.
Charades is a guessing game where a player acts out or gestures the clue to the group. They are not allowed to make sounds but can hold up fingers to represent the syllable length of the clue. I’d recommend adding emotions as clues. You can have everyone guess as a group or divide the group in half for teams depending on how competitive the students are.
Charades is a simple activity and only requires three materials:
Headbandz is similar to charades; however, the one with the card doesn’t know the clue, but the group does. The group offers clues without using the word, and the one with the card guesses. This can be timed or not.
I’d recommend having them hold it up on their forehead with their hand, but you could use the headbands from the official game.
You could easily recycle the ones you made for charades for the Headbandz game:
I wanted to add a link but couldn’t find an official game. The Zones colors are the same as the Uno colors. You can add questions to the cards, which the student must answer when they add them to the pile.
Here are some ideas for questions:
Create a cootie catcher using the prescribed folding method (you can find YouTube tutorials if you don’t know how). The top four colors should represent the zone colors (i.e., blue, red, green, and yellow), and the numbers 1-8 should color-coordinate with corresponding coping mechanisms.Step-by-Step Tutorial: How To Make a Zones of Regulation Cootie Catcher: 7 Zones of Regulation Activities for Teens
The first lesson in the Zones curriculum is creating four colored posters with corresponding emotions and coping strategies as a class—the best classes to do this in our advisory or study hall. At the charter school where I work, the teachers must have these posters on their walls for students to reference. I’d recommend taking their pictures so everyone can demonstrate one emotion. I love this option and have used polaroid photos as a fun and memorable touch. Typically the top half of the poster is the emotion, and the bottom half is coping strategies.
Let me know in the comments below if you tried any of these interventions and how they went.
Kuypers, L. M. (2011). The Zones of Regulation: A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-regulation and Emotional Control.
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