Making Calming Bottles at Walkertown Elementary
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By Emily Vaughn
APRIL 7, 2021 – At Walkertown Elementary, Lakeia McLendon, who is the School Counselor, and Emily Vaughn, who is the School Social Worker, were searching for a creative ways to incorporate lessons in reducing stress and anxiety during the unprecedented school year that would allow children to thrive throughout not only this pandemic, but in all aspects of school.
McLendon and Vaughn came up with a lesson plan that involved two different deep breathing and calming/mindfulness techniques for the children and staff to use either as a group or individually.
McLendon and Vaughn set up a sign-up sheet that allowed teachers to sign up their classes. A list of needed materials was also provided to all teachers so that the remote learners were also able to be included in the lesson.
McLendon would start each lesson by teaching through demonstration the two techniques and explaining how they calm our minds and bodies and how this can be important during school hours or even outside of school.
The students were then shown an example of a premade Sensory/Calm Down Bottle. McLendon also gave a lesson on how there are many ways to use a Sensory/Calm Down Bottle. For example, when anxious or nervous, a student can shake their bottle and watch the glitter start to fall and settle back down while simultaneously practicing their own deep breathing to settle their own body and mind.
Of note, Sensory/Calm Down Bottles can also be used for students who are over-stimulated and need something to focus on that is not overwhelming. The bottles are pre-filled with half warm water/half clear glue, and then each student was allowed to pick up to four different glitter colors to make their bottles unique to themselves.
The bottles were then Super-Glued shut by McLendon and Vaughn, and the students were given the bottles to take home or leave at school.
Over a course of two weeks, McLendon and Vaughn were able to serve more 25 classrooms and produced more than 260 Sensory/Calm Down Bottles. That means that more than 260 students now have a toolkit to cope with anxiety and stress (not including the remote learners that also participated at home!)
The students at Walkertown Elementary were not the only population served. Some of the staff – teachers and administrators – were also included in the lesson. Many of the staff spoke about how the Sensory/Calm Down Bottles were something that they wanted for themselves, their classroom, or even to teach their own families at home.
McLendon and Vaughn are aware that student’s educational needs are of highest importance, especially during this pandemic. They also know that mental health is equally as important and that, if a student’s mental health is suffering, their educational career could reflect that.
It is McLendon and Vaughn’s hope to instill a sense of value in mental health throughout our school children.
McLendon and Vaughn also wanted to thank Dr. Trina Bethea (Principal) and Ms. Kimberely Cloud (Assistant Principal) for agreeing and allowing this lesson plan to come to life.