Are you familiar with the zones of regulation curriculum? It is a popular self regulation curriculum that helps students communicate how they are feeling. SLPs can use zones of regulation activities to help students initiate communication, explain how they are feeling, or what they are needing. Zones of regulation activities can also help students identify how others are feeling and what words/actions they should do when someone is feeling a certain emotion.
At my middle school, I have students on the Autism Spectrum that have a difficult time with regulating their emotions. They need visual and verbal prompts to recognize what type of emotion/feeling they are experiencing in situations. An SLP can work on teaching self-regulation by using the zones of regulation curriculum in therapy. These terms and strategies help improve a child’s ability to express their emotion and make requests/comments for what they need in a social situation.
What is zones of regulation?
Zones of regulation is a curriculum (amazon affiliate links included for your convenience) designed to help children independently self regulate their actions by teaching them to recognize how their body is feeling. They use colors to explain the different emotions. By teaching these zones, students can learn to increase communication initiations by sharing how they are feeling and what activities they need to do to help them stay in the green zone. Increasing communication around emotions helps decrease unwanted behaviors!
If you want to read more about the program and get more of the worksheets, head over to Zones of Regulation website.
Bulletin Boards For Zones Of Regulation
This is a great poster to hang in your room as a visual and use with your students to generate strategies to help them stay or get to a certain zone. Grab a poster for your speech room on Social Thinking.
My SDC teacher Janelle McDaniel made this cute visual bulletin board for her classroom. I think it is awesome! She had the different zones and then pasted the emotions that go on the zones as a visual reminder for students.
Look what else they made in the SDC classroom! The SDC teacher grabbed free paint chip samples from Home Depot and had the kids write the different emotions for the zones. She took pictures of the students acting out the different zones and posted them in the classroom.
Zones Of Regulation Activities For Your Speech Therapy Sessions
I dabbled around on the internet in search of some more “Zones” activities and this is what I found!
Fun with Firsties made a very cool bulletin board in her class with all the ZONES and has some great strategies on how to make a calm down area.
There are visuals in the ZONES book that you can photo copy and use as visuals. The Lower Elementary Cottage made a “tools” book for students to pick a tool for a ZONE to help them get back to green. If they successfully use the tool, they earn a tool coupon in which they can save up to earn a prize.
I found some hilarious video clips on youtube from one of my SDC teachers. They show the different zones people can be in using clips from the Big Bang Theory!
Sheldon in the yellow zone! Super funny!!
Love this clip for the blue zone. The kids got a kick out of this. We were also able to talk about how the other character was feeling too and why it may be unexpected to ask a friend to rub Vics on your chest when you are sick.
Red zone with Sheldon! This one made me laugh the most!!
This video is of Sheldon in the green zone. Some of my kiddos could relate to feeling the most calm when they are left alone, lol.
This video has LOTS of Zones going on! I recommend starting the video at about 1:28 seconds because Kevin Hart says “bitch” in the video. My students LOVE Kevin Hart and they sure got more interested about ZONES when we watched this clip. What activities have you done with the Zones of Regulation? I would love to add some more ideas to my stash of tricks!!
Need more videos to help teach the Zones of Regulation?
Follow my playlist on youtube for videos that help teach the Zones of Regulation HERE.
I used video clips from the movie Elf during the holidays to work on perspective taking and what “zone” people were in. Check out my blog post HERE!
At my middle school placement, I push in to the SDC functional skills classes to work on social skills and functional communication. I began thinking about life skills my students will need when they are adults. Interview and conversation skills are very important for getting jobs as well as being a part of a community!
Most of the students in these classes have Intellectual Disabilities, but they are all verbal. Some students need visual supports to make novel utterances more independently. It is pretty tough planning lessons for this bunch because there are various levels, so some need visuals and the lessons have to be middle school friendly even though most of the students are functioning around a 1st-2nd grade academic level.
As a team, we have been picking themes for the week and/or month to help guide our lesson planning. I did these activities back at the beginning of the school year and then tried to make this pack more formal, so I could save the lesson plans for next year!
My kids are too young for practicing job interview questions, but I thought they still needed to work on how to ask/answer questions in conversation with peers and in more formal situations like talking with the PRINCIPAL! Yes, my students were able to formally interview the principals using the “favorite” question guide. There are three activities in this pack: greetings, turn taking in conversation with peers, and job interview skills. I include a lesson plan with links to youtube videos that support these skills. I have several students on the autism spectrum, so these videos are perfect for video modeling (evidenced based practice)!
First, I show the class the youtube video. I embedded the greetings video that I found to give you an example. Then, we break up into groups, or stay as a whole class to discuss expected vs. unexpected behaviors. I will have the students and staff role play and the class rates if the students were expected or unexpected.Here is an example of my “rate my communication” forms that I made!
I put velcro on one of my clear vinyl dry erase pouches to use with my expected vs. unexpected file folder activities. These are great to do during the lesson and then allow the teacher to use them the rest of the week with students. Some of my students can read well, so there is a sheet with just words and then a sheet with visual supports for those that need help with reading the words.
This video is perfect for showing turn taking with peers and seeing that other people are having thoughts about us when we are talking! I loved this video! My kids practiced asking each other about their favorite things and working on making comments too. This was a great activity to help lead into asking/answering questions in a more formal setting.
There are visuals for asking and answering questions with peers about their favorite things. I also included Q and A visuals, to help some of my kids understand who should be asking the question and who is answering the question.
I showed the job interview video to talk about what to do during a job or formal interview. My kids aren’t ready for practicing for job interviews, but I wanted them to try to practice talking with someone in a formal setting. So, I asked my principals if they would be willing to help and they said “yes!”. We have a follow up appointment coming soon to re-interview them. We talked about how greetings with adults and professionals are different compared to their peers. We also practiced what kind of body language we need to have during the interview. I filmed them all and then we got to critique everyone’s performance!
I loved all these lessons and I hope you do too!! The first three peeps to comment below with some cool activities you have been doing in your speech room, will get this pack for FREE!
If you haven’t seen the movie, Elf, you need to rent it this holiday season! This weekend I watched the movie with my family and thought of some ways on how to utilize this movie with my older middle school students. Here are some of the clips from the movie with my ideas!
My Favorite Elf Scene
Use this clip to identify non-verbal signals that the characters are showing and what message they are sending with their body language. Have the students generate questions to ask each other in the group about what they thought about the clip and discuss what Buddy should have done when he saw the raccoon.
Perspective Taking and “Thought Bubble”
This clip is great for talking about what is in the character’s “thinking” bubbles as well as a way to talk about expected vs. unexpected behaviors at the dinner table.
Students with language goals can practice describing the “setting” or the “characters” of the movie using the EET tool or an attribute wheel. I made some visuals for some of my lower kids to help with identifying expected vs. unexpected behaviors. We also worked on “what are we thinking about Buddy?” with my visual thought bubble.
This clip is hilarious! If your students haven’t seen this movie, you can target making inferences about what might happen next. Have the students document clues they see in the clip to help them make social inferences about what the characters are feeling and/or thinking.
This clip has some good expected vs. unexpected behaviors in it! It is a great way to talk about the expected way to cross the street, go up an escalator and what to do in a bathroom stall. Buddy does have some expected behavior in this clip as he is walking through the mall.
Do you have any kids on your caseload that like to pick up gum off the ground and eat it!? Well, I actually work with a student that I caught doing that at lunch. This is a great clip to show and talk about why it’s gross to pick up gum/food off the ground to eat. Kids can share what’s in their “thinking” bubble when they see Buddy eating gum off the subway railing.
I love this scene because the other person on the elevator has some great non-verbal signals about how he is feeling. Buddy also does one expected behavior on the elevator, but overall, everything he does in this clip would make someone really annoyed!! Students that need to work on articulation carryover can retell the story clip while practicing their speech sounds!
You can also have students write complex sentences about what happened in each clip! Give them a “challenge” word to add in each sentence such as an adjective, conjunction or transitional phrase.
Find my Elf movie playlist on YouTube
If you need a playlist of all the movie clips, you can use mine on YouTube. Hope you can use these in your therapy room for the last couple days of school! My kids stayed engaged and enjoyed watching all of Buddy’s shenanigans!!
I am a very purposeful person when it comes to have “decorations” in my speech room. I want my room to have some flavor, but I also what it to be functional for the needs of my students. Creating a social skills bulletin board for your room is a great way to to do just that! Now, that I am at the middle school level and I have MANY students on my caseload working on social skills.
I made this social skill bulletin board to be a visual reminder for my students about communication and “making impressions”. I also wanted something that other professionals could see when they walked in the room. This is a great way to share about all the skills we speech therapists cover in the speech room. What do you think of my social skill bulletin board? It was pretty easy to assemble and turned my bare wall into something eye catching!!
I found these cute bulletin borders at the $1 store and thought they would be perfect for adding some color to my room. In this bulletin board pack, I created color options for green, blue, pink, orange and gray. I went with green and blue! It includes making impressions, a title “The Key to Great Communication” with the four steps of communication as well as a visual poster to identify “what’s my impression?”
I think it turned out great! I printed everything on cardstock and laminated for durability. This added so much color to my room! It has the bonus of serving as a visual teaching tool as well as show parents/educators another aspect of what this Speech Pathologist does!
Grab this FREE bulletin board template by clicking the photo below.
Last year, I worked with mod-severe elementary students on the autism spectrum. Talk about needing AAC tools for communication! I had a WIDE range of skills going on in my K/1st grade and 2nd/3rd grade classes and needed some support with how to serve them all. I was making communication boards as I could, but was still struggling to have visuals for everything! My district sent me to a year long course (6 full day sessions) on AAC assessment and the training introduced me to CORE BOARDS.
I made a visual schedule for a parent that was reporting that her son was struggling with transitions. Above are my CORE boards with fringe vocabulary that I used for bubbles. I printed a CORE board and glued to a file folder. Then I laminated it and added velcro, so I could interchange the fringe vocabulary for whatever toy or activity I was using. I used the CORE boards with my non-verbal kids AND with my kids who were talking, but NOT generalizing their speech in different contexts or were not using different functions such as yes/no questions, greetings, opinions, sharing information, commenting and asking questions. I personally had great success using low tech communication tools with these students. Many of them started to greet me by name (melted my heart) and I had a little guy say “speech time” any time I showed up to their class.
My visual necklace was a great resource to have because I always knew that wherever I was on campus, I always had visuals commands that I could use with students. No joke, the teacher told a student “go wash your hands” and the kid just sat there. I walked over and said the EXACT SAME THING and showed him the wash hands symbol, the kid got up and washed his hands. Of course, there are those little ones that heard the teacher just fine and are choosing to say put. In those cases, a behavioral incentive may be the ticket to getting those hands washed!
I had a couple of students who were 5 years old and had minimal verbal speech. One of the students did a lot of singing and echolalia, but not a lot of functional speech. As I was soon discovering about my therapy, all we were really working on was requesting. This of course is not a bad place to start, but as I was taking the AAC class, I forgot about ALL the other functions of communication. It is very functional and typical for toddlers ages 12-24 months to begin to understand greetings and use gestures/ single words “hi” and “bye” with familiar people. My 5-6 year olds were not greeting me or responding to my greetings with words or a wave. They usually came physically over to me or familiar staff to communicate that they saw me. I tried to create some visuals to help them to work on responding and initiating greetings.
I made this for one of my who had multiple disabilities including being deaf. She had cochlear implants, but would not keep them on consistently. She could put 2-3 icons together and go to different pages on Proloquo 2 go, but she would often just use the communication app to do her own thing even if we locked her in to the one app. The teacher also struggled to use the communication app with her because the other students would get mad if they saw her using an IPAD and they didn’t get one. So, I came up with a low-tech communication board that would allow us to have visuals at all times to communicate with her. I included a CORE board for frequently used commands the teacher used with the students such as “clean up”, “wash hands”, “great job”.
I have been storing all of these AAC materials in file folders in a filing cabinet and shoving the little pieces in plastic bags and feeling a bit disorganized with all the visuals. I went in search of an organization solution on amazon. I took a chance with this Poly Zip Files (amazon affiliate links included for your convenience) and am SUPER satisfied with this purchase!!
It has 15 letter sized zipper pouches and 5 check sized pouches that fit in the plastic container. I like having things all in one place and this allows me to store most of my AAC tools in this container.
The AAC training really emphasized that using visuals with my autism students whether they were verbal or not would help with generalization of communication beyond just requesting. I grabbed those CORE boards and ran with it because I had NO time for prepping visuals (I had 80 kids on my caseload). The CORE boards contain the most frequently used words that toddlers use. You can elicit TONS of communication functions with just 20 words. In therapy, I model my language using the CORE board as a way to show them how to communicate with the board.
If you want to see my starter kit in action, go check out my AAC Starter Kit tour on youtube! I am hoping to get some small videos using the CORE boards with my 2 year old to help with demonstrating.
I have been learning A LOT about AAC and do not consider myself an expert by any means, but the visuals in this kit are aligned with evidence based practices for teaching functional communication. If you think this is something that would be helpful for your caseload, you can grab the kit HERE! Enter below for your chance to win this starter kit. It is a great time saver and helpful tool.
Today I want to share how to use Bubble Talk in speech therapy with your upper elementary and middle school students. When I saw this game at Target, I had to have it. I think you will want it too! The format of the game is similar to Apples to Apples. You place a photo card in the middle of the table and each player finds a “talk caption” that they think would best represent the people or animals in the photo and puts it face down in a pile.
The judge shuffles the cards and then reads the talk bubbles out loud for the group. Next, the judge picks the “talk bubble” that they think goes best with the photo and that person gets a point. This ends the round and then you get a new photo. Everyone can be the judge, but I was the judge in the speech room to avoid too much conflict.
There are pictures on both sides of the cards, so there are plenty of cards to make this game last for a while.
Here is how I use this game in therapy:
Each round is really quick, so it is a great reinforcer for fluency and articulation goals in between production practice.
I used my visual attribute strip and had my vocabulary students describe something in the photo. Above is a picture of a baby in a drawer. The student had to describe the dresser by attributes.
My higher functioning social thinkers really liked this game and I got a lot of spontaneous eye contact, comments and initiation without prompting or asking. This is also a great way to incorporate humor.
Most of these photos require people to use context clues to determine what is happening. These photos are great for working making smart guesses, inferencing and predictions.
Use these photos to have students create sentences using conjunctions, noun-verb agreement, and verb tense.
Let the students bring in photos from home to use with the game. Before using the picture, the student has to retell who, what, where, when, and why about the photo. This targets personal narration and language organization.
Talking about what is expected vs. unexpected about the photo and what the person may be feeling or thinking can be incorporated. There is a photo of a man dressed as “super man” trimming the hedges in his yard. We talked about how this might make people have uncomfortable thoughts about us.
You could also target think vs. say as well as let the kids make their own talk bubble cards for fun.
Things to consider with this game:
There are two giant stacks of talking bubble cards, which is awesome, but you need to filter through the cards to make sure they are school appropriate. I found a card “That’s what she said”. I don’t want any uncomfortable moments with my middle school boys (enough said).
I would also filter through the photos to make sure they would be appropriate. Most are, but you just never know.
This game is best used with kids who are exhibiting higher social thinking skills and cognition. There are a lot of underlying skills required to understand and enjoy this game. My 4th-5th general ed students loved it as well as my middle school students, so don’t be afraid to try this with upper elementary students.
You can also snag this game on amazon (amazon affiliate link provided). Since I have such awesome followers, I wanted to give this game away for FREE to one lucky person. Enter below!