Intermediate – What Are The Zones?

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Lesson 1 – Zones Introduction:
What Are the Zones?

  1. Overview:  Introduce unit to the class, “We will be learning about the Zones of Regulation. ‘Regulation’ is a word that means how ready your body is to deal with the situation you are in. For example, if you are doing work at your desk, it will likely mean how calm and/or focused your body is.  We will learn about the four zones, including:
    • the energy levels in each zone.
    • the feelings, emotions, and sensations related to each zone.
    • tools and strategies you can use….
    to stay focused at school so that you are at the optimal level for learning. when it is hard to focus or stay focused. (For example, when you are in the Yellow Zone you may be feeling: worried, angry, excited, tired or bored.)”
  2. Breathing:
  • Breathing is a tool/strategy to get your body ready to learn. Find out if students have tried breathing for relaxation or as a tool.  If they have, ask them share the kinds of breathing that they have tried, in what context, and its effect.
  • Introduce “Flower and Candle” breathing today.
  • Together, breathe in (through your nose) as if you are “smelling a flower” (4 seconds), breathe out (through your mouth) as if you are “blowing out 6 candles” one at a time – with a steady breath (4-6 seconds). We are trying for deep, steady, slow breaths.
  • Discuss how slow breathing can be a tool to help us become more calm or stay calm so that we are ready to learn or play.
  • Breathing helps us to release the tension in our bodies. It is one of the most effective “tools” we will be learning for regulating our bodies so that we can be in the Green Zone when we need to be. 
  1. Learning Story: Read the “story”, Introduction to Zones: Part 1 (or show the Google Slide Show). This story covers the following concepts with photos:
    • Your body and brain have energy.
    • Zone definitions
  2.  Activity 1:  Partner Share or Small Group
  • Pass out photos of people with emotions. Prompt students to decide which zone that person is in.
  • Prompt students to decide which zone the people in the photos are in. Write the sentence on the board so they can refer to it with their partner. Students can finish sentence 1:  
    “I think this person is in the _______ zone.”
    Students can finish sentence 2:
    “I remember feeling like this when….”  (share a time/situation.)“I remember feeling like this when….”  (share a time/situation.)

Please Note: A few students may be uncomfortable sharing a situation about themselves. Offer the option to use a character from a movie, game or book instead of talking about themselves.

  1. Learning Story: Read the  story,  Introduction to Zones: Part 2 (or show the Google Slide Show)

This story covers the following concepts with photos:

  • Everyone uses different zones throughout the day (parents, teachers, friends, even


  • Everyone has a “home zone”.
  • Tools can help us move from zone to zone as needed.
  1. Activity 2 – The Zones Student Booklet:
    • Put name on front cover and decorate later – if you have time, otherwise let them know you can make time another day.
  • Look at page 1: The Green Zone. Brainstorm situations in which their body was in the green zone and they felt relaxed or calm at school or at home. (Answers will vary widely. Just make sure that the person’s body is feeling relaxed in their example. One common response is to say when they are playing games they are in the green zone. For this page, I would ask them to use games that make them relaxed as opposed to games that make them excited or frustrated.)
  • Ask students to sketch a situation. Sometimes students are more comfortable writing about it. You can be flexible as long as both the sketch or the writing includes these elements of the situation:
  • Where
  • What they are doing
  • Who (often just themselves)
  • Body in the green zone
  • facial expression in the green zone

Hand Out Zones parent letter for students to take home (optional).

Other Possible Activities:

-Create a Zones bulletin board, buy and put up the Zones Poster or have your students make one for the class. (I once made it an art project and students worked in pairs. We posted one in the class and the rest all around the school.)

-Watch Video “Arrive” (1 minute 38 seconds – from Mindful Schools) with your class to introduce the power of breathing exercises.

-Introduce a Zones “Check Inon their way into the classroom.

-Important: students should always have the option of keeping their emotions private.

-“High 5 Zones Check-In” left handright hand

-There is a check-in that is a worksheet format in the Zones book, and there are many versions on Pinterest!

-Picture sort

-sorting pictures of different situations into zones, using the emotions photos (this is also a good adapted activity for students who avoid pencil-paper tasks.)

-Movie Time Social Learning part of Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking collection

-Extend the time you spend on the Green Zone.

-Take a week? A month? Call it Green Zone week/month.

-Relate your teaching back to the Zones in context throughout your day. September is good because we often talk about behaviours that help us learn (i.e. classroom rules). Just be very careful that green does not become the “good zone” which implies that the others are “bad zones”. Yellow (more energy) is often the perfect zone in gym class, for example. All the zones are okay. Even the red zone! (We will talk about how to deal with the big red zone feelings in the tools lesson.)

-Zones Bingo (from the Zones of Regulation book – it is “Reproducible F” in the accompanying USB)



Resources/Materials Needed:

  • Intro to Zones Story-Intermediate Slideshow*
  • Intro to Zones Story- Intermediate printable story* (Useful for students who are away, those who work with Educational Assistants, or when technology fails!)
  • Breathing Visual: smell flower, blow out candle (attached)
  • The Zones Student Booklet – Intermediate Grades, Black & White*
  • Photos of emotions (attached)
  • Parent letter (optional)

* email me if you don’t have the link:

Breathing Image (smell flower, blow out candle)