Printable Zones of Regulation Activities for Kids

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We’re about to take a cool trip into the Zones of Regulation to help us understand all the different feelings we have.

Every emotion is totally normal and okay, whether you’re feeling super calm or really upset.

The Zones of Regulation helps us figure out what emotion we’re feeling and what zone we’re in.

We can use tools and strategies to deal with each zone, whether taking deep breaths when we’re angry or finding a way to perk up when we’re feeling down.

Stay tuned. We have a ton of zones of regulation printables, visual supports, and regulation tools and activities coming at you!

understanding zones of regulation
Mindfulness activities for kids preview set.

Gain access to our library of free printables!

Because we all want our kids to be happy and healthy — not just for right now, but for the rest of their lives.

Understanding the Zones of Regulation

Understanding and managing emotions are critical skills for children’s development, often described as ‘self-regulation.’ 

Self-regulation, also known as emotional regulation, self-control, or impulse management, is our internal emotional thermostat. It helps us adjust our feelings to match the occasion. It is essentially about being in the right state of mind for a given task — like being alert on the sports field and quiet in the library.

Mastering self-regulation and teaching regulation strategies is not just for children; we all encounter times when feelings like frustration, anxiety, or excitement can overwhelm us.

This is where the Zones of Regulation come in, providing a structured approach to help children understand and control their emotions. (It’s all about social-emotional learning, folks!)

Developed by Leah Kuypers, the zones of regulation are a framework that categorizes all the complex feelings and states of alertness we experience into four colored zones. 

Check out all Leah Kuypers Zones of Regulation (Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow) Right here:

Let’s break down our four color-coded levels of alertness for you:

Blue Zone

This is like the low-energy mode.

It’s when you might feel a bit down, really tired, or just moving through your day more slowly than usual.

Think of it as those quiet moments in the early morning when everything is still and peaceful.

If you’re a car in the Blue Zone, your engine is idling or turned off.

blue zone of regulation tired

Green Zone

This is your sweet spot. It’s the ideal zone!

You feel great, focused, and ready to take on the world!

It’s the zone where you’re at your best and where you’re aiming to get back to if things start to feel a bit off.

Green is for “GO!” which means your body and emotions are in check, and you’re set to go full speed ahead.

green zone of regulation calm

Yellow Zone

Things get a bit more intense here.

It’s like a heads-up that your emotions are getting stronger, like when you start to feel really frustrated, super excited, or kind of nervous.

It’s not a red alert, but it’s definitely a time to slow down and maybe start using some strategies to chill out a bit.

yellow zone of regulation frustrated

Red Zone

This one is your stop sign.

You are feeling intense emotions that feel really powerful and too big to handle, like when you’re incredibly angry or scared out of your wits.

If you were a car, this would be like your engine is red-lining, and you need to pull over!

A big, flashing sign tells you, “Okay, we’ve got to take care of this right now.”

red zone of regulation angry

Zones of Regulation Objectives:

Our plan is all about helping kids get really good at understanding their feelings, and here’s how we’re going to do it:

We want to teach kids to notice their emotional ‘zone’—whether they’re calm, excited, or upset—and learn the best ways to stay in that zone or switch to a different one if needed.

We hope to help kids with all this:

  • Knowing Your Feelings: Learn to recognize your own emotions. It’s like knowing whether you’re in the happy green zone, the sad blue zone, the mad red zone, or the worried yellow zone.
  • Talking About Feelings: Get better at describing how you feel. Instead of just saying, “I’m okay,” you might say, “I’m feeling a bit blue today.”
  • Handling Emotions: Find out how to deal with your feelings. For example, if you’re feeling super mad in the red zone, you can learn ways to calm down and maybe get back to the green zone.
  • Understanding Others: Realize that other people have feelings, too, and sometimes they might be in a different zone than you.
  • Solving Problems: Learn how to fix issues, especially when your emotions are making things tough.
  • Being Kind and Understanding: Try to understand why others feel the way they do. It’s about putting yourself in their shoes.
  • Bouncing Back: Get stronger at dealing with tough times or stress.
  • Thinking Before Acting: Work on not acting too quickly on your feelings. Take a moment to think about the best way to react.
  • Expected Behaviors: Understand what behaviors are typical for each zone. Like being calm and focused in the green zone, or needing to take a break in the red zone.
  • Action vs. Reaction: Learn the difference between doing something because of how you feel (action) and responding to what happens around you (reaction). It’s about choosing the best way to handle a situation, whether it’s something you feel inside or something that happens outside.

These goals help kids get better at dealing with their emotions, which makes things easier at school and with friends.

  • Learn many words to describe their feelings so they can tell others exactly what’s happening inside.
  • Get better at seeing what zone someone else is in, which is a big part of being empathetic and understanding others.
  • Explore what kind of stuff can cause someone to move from one zone to another, like sensory needs, not getting enough sleep, or being really hungry.
  • Understand that all sorts of things, including what’s happening around us, can change how we feel.
  • Solving problems and bouncing back from tough times.
  • Building a bunch of cool strategies and the often-overlooked skill of self-regulation, to help kids calm down or perk up depending on what they need.

By working on these things, we aim to give kids the superpowers to handle their emotions and deal with whatever comes their way.

zones of regulation printables

Featured resource

Emotion Zones

The digital resource teaches kids self-regulation and feelings awareness and includes tons of activities, worksheets, posters, and coping strategies.

Recognizing Zones of Regulation

You don’t need to use the color-coded zones to teach kids about regulation, although that is one recognized framework. There are many methods and strategies, and we will outline a few of them below.

What Zone Are You In? 

For kids, figuring out how they’re feeling is like reading their own special compass. It’s the first crucial step on the path to managing emotions.

Teach kids to ask themselves key questions:

“How am I feeling right now?” “What’s happening inside me?”

These questions are like a compass that guides them to understand their emotional state and what emotional ‘zone’ they’re in.

zones of regulation printables

Use our fun traffic light regulation posters and activities that have kids associating their feelings with traffic lights. Go, stop, caution, and slow!

Visual Tools for Zones of Regulation

Feeling thermometers are awesome visual aids that help kids start to understand their emotions. (If you’re an occupational therapist, teacher, or social worker, you will love these.)

feelings thermometer
Included in our Zones of Regulation Activity Book

Want to know how to use these tools? You can find full instructions on using a feelings thermometer HERE (with a free printable)

The Feeling Wheel is another great self-regulation tool, helping kids pinpoint emotions and increase their self-awareness.

These are A+ self-regulation skills used in cognitive behavioral therapy!

Snag the feelings Wheel HERE.

feelings wheel

Printable Zones of Regulation Activities for Kids

As you sail across the vast emotional spectrum, it’s handy to have some activities ready for each zone you encounter. These are perfect for home or classroom management.

Remember, it’s completely normal to go through all the different Zones. There’s nothing wrong or ‘bad’ about being in the Red or Yellow Zones. Every Zone has its time and place. For instance, the Blue Zone is right where you want to be when you are trying to fall asleep.

Blue Zone Activities 

Feeling low in the Blue Zone? Try these pick-me-ups to raise your spirits:

Mood Music Playlist: Music can be a real game-changer for your mood. You can put together a playlist of tunes that lift you up. Maybe create a few for different Blue Zone vibes — like a “Calm Seas” playlist for chilling out, or “Gentle Winds” for when you need a light energy boost.

Favorite Things Memory Box: Like a lighthouse on a gloomy day, a memory box full of your favorite things can brighten your mood. Decorate a box and fill it with photos, little notes, or anything that brings back good memories.

blue zone activities for kids

Green Zone Activities 

In the Green Zone, you’re cruising nicely. Keep it steady with these activities:

Goal Setting Session: Set some personal goals, like reading a new book or learning a new game. It’s a great way to stay sharp and engaged, and it keeps that Green Zone vibe going strong.

Gratitude Tree: Craft a tree where each leaf stands for something you’re grateful for. It’s a visual reminder of all the good stuff in your life, keeping you grounded in the Green Zone with positive vibes.

Yellow Zone Activities 

When things get wavy in the Yellow Zone, these activities can help smooth things out:

Stress-Detective Game: Time to put on your detective hat and figure out what’s making you stressed. Talking through what’s bothering you can help you get a handle on those Yellow Zone feelings before they get too wild.

yellow zone activities zones of regulation

Feelings Charades: This game lets you act out and guess different emotions. It’s a fun way to express those tricky Yellow Zone feelings and better understand them. You can use our feelings cards to play!

Red Zone Activities 

In the stormy Red Zone, you need activities that bring you back to calmer waters:

Cool Down Crafts: Making something with your hands, like a stress ball, can really help you focus and relax. Plus, squeezing the stress ball can be a great way to release some of that Red Zone energy.

Breathing Buddy Exercise: Grab a stuffed animal and try some deep breathing. Lying down with your buddy on your belly, you can watch it move up and down with your breaths. It’s a calming way to get your breathing in rhythm and chill out those intense Red Zone feelings.

red zone activities zones of regulation

With these activities tailored to each emotional zone, you’ll learn to master the art of emotional navigation. You will believe that all feelings are okay, and learn that you have some control over how you react.

You can make different choices and choose coping skills that heed positive reactions.

Grab our Emotion Zones resources right here!

emotional regulation resources

Helpful Concepts & Zones of Regulation Printables for Kids

Expected Versus Unexpected Behaviors

It’s essential for kids to understand the difference between expected and unexpected behaviors within each zone. 

Expected behaviors are those that match the social norms for a given situation and help keep our emotional ship on course.

Unexpected behaviors, on the other hand, are those that might steer us into stormy waters, affecting not only ourselves but also the crew around us.

For instance, in the Green Zone, an expected behavior might be participating in class or sharing toys during playtime, while an unexpected behavior might be shouting out of turn or ignoring the rules of the game.

Understanding these nuances helps you adjust accordingly.

“Behavior Expectation” Role-Play Cards

To make this concept more interactive, “Behavior Expectation” role-play cards are a fantastic tool. These cards present different scenarios where you must act out both expected and unexpected responses.

Behavior expectation role play cards

This helps everyone understand the consequences of their actions and the behaviors that are acceptable in different social interactions and settings.

Assessing the Size of The Problem

Learning to assess problem-solving skills is like understanding the scale of a storm; some are mere squalls, while others are full gales.

It’s important to distinguish between small, medium, and large problems to react appropriately and not raise the alarm for a situation that’s just a ripple in the water.

Size of the Problem Worksheets

Our Size of the Problem poster serves as a visual aid to help students gauge the size of their problems.

size of the problem printables

Considering Our Actions and Their Effects

Understanding the Zones of Regulation isn’t just about internal navigation; it’s also about recognizing how our actions can affect the emotional states of others.

Just as a ship creates waves, our actions can cause ripples that can either rock someone else’s boat or help them sail smoothly.

“Action and Reaction” Worksheets

To explore this concept, “Action and Reaction” worksheets provide children with various scenarios where they must predict how their actions might affect others.

You can find tons of zones of regulation resources and activities here.

These activities encourage children to think before they act, considering whether their behavior might send someone into a different zone and how they can maintain a positive and supportive environment for everyone.

Quick Zone of Regulation Tips

Make the Zones of Regulation a natural part of your day with these straightforward steps:

Model the Zones: Speak openly about your own emotions using the Zones framework to show your kids how it’s done. For example, say, “I’m feeling a bit Yellow Zone right now. I will take some deep breaths to get back to Green.”

Be Curious: Regularly check in with your child to see what Zone they’re in. Make it fun by guessing the Zones of book or movie characters.

Timing Is Everything: Have conversations about the Zones when your child is calm and can think clearly, not during a Red Zone moment.

Provide Tools: Teach your child strategies for each Zone, like using our traffic light posters, or regulation corner posters.

Regular Check-Ins: Frequently ask, “How are you feeling?” to encourage self-awareness and communication.

Share Strategies: Use and explain methods you employ to return to the Green Zone, and discuss them with your child.

zones of regulation tips

Praise Awareness: Acknowledge when your child identifies their Zone to reinforce their understanding.

Use Visuals: Display Zone charts or images at home for easy reference.

Self-Regulate: Be aware of your reaction to stress and remain calm when supporting your child.

zones of regulation

Understand Sensory Needs: Recognize what sensory inputs affect your child’s mood and how to address them.

Consistency Counts: Maintain the same language and behavior management at home and elsewhere.

Validate Feelings: Confirm that all feelings and Zones are okay and offer your support.

Set Routines: Establish clear routines for predictability and security.

Stay Centered: Ensure you’re composed before responding to your child’s heightened emotions.

Reflect and Prepare: After emotional moments, discuss future strategies for handling similar situations.

Teach Empathy: Encourage your child to consider how their actions impact others.

Sensory Breaks: Promote activities that help your child manage sensory challenges.

Make a ‘Calm Box’: Create a box with soothing items for your child to use when they need to regulate their emotions.

zones coloring sheet

Grab this coloring page as part of our Emotion Zones mini bundle.

Identifying Emotional Triggers

It’s vital to know what might push you into stormy emotional waters. These are called triggers, and they’re unique to each person. For kids, a trigger might be something like a change in their daily routine or a mix-up with a friend.

Mapping Out Emotional Triggers

“My Trigger Map” is a fantastic printable tool for helping children understand what triggers their emotions. It’s a fun way for kids to list or draw specific things that might tip their emotional balance.

feelings zones of regulation printables

Featured resource

Emotions & Feelings Social Emotional Learning Unit

Dive deep into the social and emotional landscape with this 5-week unit! Have a blast exploring each emotion with fun, engaging lessons that touch on feelings, facial expressions, and more.

Encourage them to remember times they suddenly felt sad, angry, worried, or super excited and what might have sparked that. Knowing their triggers helps them come up with better ways to respond and keep or get back to their Green Zone.

Understanding Others’ Emotional Zones

It’s super important to notice how others are feeling, too. When kids can spot what emotional ‘zone’ someone else is in, they learn to be more empathetic and understand others better. It’s like being an emotion detective!

zones of regulation printables

Becoming Super Feelings Detectives

We can teach kids to observe people’s body language, listen to their tone of voice, and pay attention to what’s happening around them to guess how they’re feeling. This is a huge step in learning to care for others and knowing when to lend a hand or give them space.

Flipping through magazines or books that show different scenarios is a great exercise. Ask kids to guess the emotional zone by looking at facial expressions and other clues. It’s a fun way to improve their ability to read emotions and reinforce their understanding of all the different zones.

look at facial expressions and clues for emotional zone

Things That Affect Our Emotional Control

As we explore what can cause you to switch from one emotional zone to another, you might be surprised at how everyday things play a big role. Not getting enough sleep, for example, could leave you dragging your feet in the Blue Zone.

Or feeling super hungry might tip you into the Yellow Zone, where everything feels a little more annoying. Or being in a loud environment might cause sensory regulation issues where everything feels heightened.

Role-Play Activity:

  1. Setting the Scene: Act out a day in the life of a character who didn’t sleep enough and forgot their lunch. Use a doll or a stuffed animal to represent the character.
  2. Recognizing the Zones: Ask the kids to identify which zone the character is in at the beginning of the day (Blue Zone) and after lunch (Yellow Zone).
  3. Discussion: Talk with the kids about why the character might feel this way. Ask them if they’ve ever felt like that and what might have caused it.
  4. Solution Brainstorming: Together, develop ideas for what the character could do differently next time to avoid feeling blue or yellow, like setting a bedtime or packing their lunch the night before.
Things That Affect Kid's Emotional Control

This role-play activity not only helps children understand the connection between physical needs and emotional states but also empowers them to think of proactive solutions for self-care.

More Printable Zones of Regulation Curriculum Resources For You

If you love the FREE Feelings Thermometer and want more awesome resources for self-regulation and a complete social-emotional learning package, check out our HeartSMART Curriculum!

This bundle has got you covered with year-long lesson plans, engaging games, eye-catching posters, interactive worksheets, creative craft coloring pages, and so much more!

Dive into a world of activities and tools to help kids understand their feelings better and confidently navigate their emotions. 

social emotional curriculum for elementary

Final Thoughts on Printable Zones of Regulation Activities and Helping Kids Handle Their Emotions

The Zones of Regulation aren’t just a bunch of steps to follow; they’re like a captain’s tools for reading the ocean of feelings that kids sail on every single day.

The activities we’ve shared here are like buoys, guiding young minds through the ebbs and flows of their emotions and helping them understand that it’s perfectly natural to sail through different zones throughout their day. 

By using these printable zones of regulation activities, you can guide kids to handle their emotions smoothly, helping them feel more at ease and making your home or classroom more peaceful!

Gain access to our library of free printables!

Because we all want our kids to be happy and healthy — not just for right now, but for the rest of their lives.

Resources You’ll Love

Our shop is filled with printable resources to help you calm the chaos and assist your amazing little humans to believe in the amazing little humans they are!

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Splash into spring with these spring-themed social-emotional learning activities

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