Hands On Calming Strategy Activity for Deep Breathing 

By Laura Driscoll
Read Time:  min
Practice deep breathing with this tactile calming strategy craft

Deep breathing is one of the best calming strategies you can teach your students. It's effective and they always have it with them. While it is simple, students often need to be exposed to it many times and in many different ways. This calming strategy activity has students make their own breathing stick to help them visualize breathing in and out.

Assemble the Breathing Stick

You need a pipe cleaner and 4-6 beads. That's it!

Put all the beads on the pipe cleaner. Curl one end so beads can't slip off. Make a shape, like a heart or a circle, on the other end. You can do a square and use this to teach box breathing to students.

calming strategy activity - pipe cleaner breathing stick

Using the Breathing Stick

Before starting the breathing exercise, have students get comfortable and breathe normally for a minute. Tell them to take time to notice how their breath goes in and out. When they take a deep breath, they should feel their chest and their belly rise. If only their chest rises, they are taking shallow breaths. You can prompt them to put their hand on their stomachs.

Simple Deep Breaths

  1. Move all the beads to one end of the pipe cleaner.
  2. Put your fingers on the first bead. Breathe in as you slowly move that bead to the other end.
  3. Let out your breath slowly when you get the bead to the end of the pipe cleaner.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the beads, keeping your breath slow and steady.
  5. Once all the beads are on one side, repeat and move the beads back to the other side.

Box Breathing

  1. Move all the beads to one end of the pipe cleaner.
  2. Breathe like normal for a minute.
  3. Now put your fingers on the first bead. Breathe in slowly counting to four. As you do, move each bead to the other end.
  4. Slowly exhale through your mouth for four seconds, moving the beads one by one to the other end. 
  5. Repeat 2 to 3 more times. 

When To Use Deep Breathing

This simple calming strategy activity helps students visualize and understand what deep breathing feels like. Try using deep breaths at the start of the day, after recess, or before a challenging task. 

Calming exercises for kids are best when they are simple and engaging. While we can fill baskets with calming tools or teach students yoga poses, it's even better to start

6 Simple Breathing Exercises for Kids

If you are looking for more self regulation tools for the classroom, check out the Calm Corner Bundle.

Helpful Resources

Calm Corner Bundle

The calm down corner is set up to step-by-step guide students through self regulation.

Self Regulation Brain Breaks

This resource has three kinds of brain breaks: Energizing, Calming, and Focusing. 

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I’m a school psychologist who left her office (closet?) and got busy turning a decade of experience into ready to use counseling and SEL resources.

I live in New York City with my adventurous husband and relaxed to the max daughter who’ve grown to appreciate my love of a good checklist.

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