Calming Corner DIY’s

An early childhood classroom is a busy place! Though it can be fun, young children may at times need a safe, calm space to regain their balance. The Calming Corner provides a reprieve from the rest of the activities going on and can be a helpful tool in teaching self-regulation skills

While there are wonderful materials out there to purchase, many are costly and the costs add up fast. Resale shops and garage sales are good places to find deals. Experience Early Learning has free downloadable materials here

There are also many options for creating high-quality Calming Corner tools on a budget.  Read on for some great ideas that won’t break the bank!

Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles are a great resource in any Calming Corner! There are so many different options. 

Ocean Wave Bottle – A water bottle, vegetable or baby oil, water, and a bit of food coloring are all that’s needed to create the classic ocean wave bottle. Children love to watch the waves roll back and forth. It can also be fun to shake and watch the oil and water separate.  Fill ¾ of the bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring to tint. Fill the rest with baby oil (or vegetable oil). Leave a bit of room at the top if you wish to add beads, small toys, or other items. Secure the lid with strong glue, such as E600.

Glitter Bottle – This is one of the easiest bottles to make! It is simply glitter glue squeezed into a bottle with hot water added. The trick to this one is making sure the water is really hot – lukewarm will not work. Then shake, shake, shake until everything is blended well. This takes a while, so keep shaking! The result is mesmerizing.

I Spy Bottle – Imagination is the only limit to I spy bottles.  Add some rice, pony beads, small toys, letters, or whatever else can be found. Children love finding the objects inside. Emoji beads or small pictures of loved ones would be a great addition to the Calming Corner.

Rain Stick Bottle – These are made with a bottle full of twigs and some rice. Children tilt them back and forth to hear the rice “rain” fall. The children can even help collect the twigs. This is so soothing and so easy to make! 

Hand-Made Books

Books can be great for self-soothing. Some of the best books cost nothing! They can be hand-made with brads, yarn, or even a pocket and prong folder. Here are some tips for book-making with children.

Family Album – Children love pictures of their families! It might end up being the most popular book in the classroom.  

Feelings Book – They are easy to make with pictures of your children or by using pre-made emotion cards. You can download the Calming Corner materials, including emotion cards, from Experience Early Learning here

Safe Things Book – This can be made with simple pictures or drawings by the children. Begin by asking the children what are some things that make them feel safe! Children often have very different ideas than adults.

Journal – Children can either write in their own journals or one created just for the Calming Corner. This can be as simple as a spiral notebook or just some plain paper bound together and left in the Calming Down Kit!

Homemade Playdough 

One of the most versatile tools in an early childhood classroom is playdough! Just the act of squeezing and kneading the dough is calming. A simple recipe for homemade playdough is 2 cups cornstarch and 1 cup lotion or hair conditioner. Bonus points for using a lavender scented lotion! The smell of lavender is known for helping the body relax!

These materials can all help in teaching young children self-calming, but the most important tool is the teacher modeling HOW to use them!

Heather Williams
Heather Williams

Heather Williams, an Education Support Specialist for Experience Early Learning, has worked in the field of early childhood for over 20 years and holds a Master’s in Education. She is a certified teacher, a former Professional Development Specialist for the CDA Council, and has spent years providing training and coaching for various Head Start programs. She is passionate about the importance of play for learning and loves to inspire creativity in both educators and children.  

Luckenbill, J. (n.d.). Eight tips for creating homemade books. NAEYC. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

Perry, C. (2020, May 26). How to create the perfect calm-down corner at home. Parents. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from,re%20becoming%20out%20of%20control

Playdough power. NAEYC. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

 Rachel. (2022, November 7). Soft no-cook playdough recipe made with Cornstarch & Conditioner. Kids Activities Blog. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from

 Spigelmyer, L. (2022, August 8). Aroma and the classroom. The Behavior Hub. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from,-Lavender%20is%20commonly&text=Its%20calming%20qualities%20have%20been,classrooms%20with%20rowdy%2C%20energetic%20busybodies

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