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Considering using the emotional regulation tool in the Free for Educators  Calm Schools App.

Brain Friendly Sequence Step One

Transitioning into a learning mindset doesn’t take long. Playing music in the first five minutes of class sets up students for success. Encourage them to leave the outside world behind and concentrate on being present in this moment. Focus on core breathing. Take an accounting of any tension in the body. Release that tension through gentle movement or stretching. Some days slow music works, but other days fun, upbeat music may be better. Self-regulation strategies like this one should be a regular class pattern, not a surprising change. The first few times may seem unfamiliar but the pattern of consistent grounding music and or movement will become reassuring.

Create an oasis in your classroom. This opening activity can also provide time for one-on-one teacher check-ins, homework submission/review, or students can use this time to review the posted agenda.

Grounding Music Playlist

Five minutes or less…slow

  1. Fly by Ludovico Euinadi
  2. Elegy for the Arctic by Euinadi

Five minutes or less…fast

  1. Drum Meditation
  2. Run Across Desert Sands Steve Stevens
  3. Just Fine by Mary J. Blige

A longer playlist… 

Piano with nature sounds

Rainforest sounds with waterfall video

Ocean sounds with waves on pebble beach

Brain Friendly Sequence Step Two

Follow up this individual transition/grounding time with a peer-to-peer activity time.

  • Review/discussing homework problems
  • Discussion of a prompt or problem solving scenario
  • Planning for a project
  • Brainstorming new ideas
  • Following up on a team project
  • Collaborative small group work time

KEY INSIGHT. This pattern should be consistent in the class. Individual reflection, grounding, movement and music in Step One, should be followed by peer-to-peer interaction, ideally, in pair share or small groups should be Step Two.

Activity One: Create a collaborative Brain Science poster that defines these key terms:



Fight or Flight Response

Autonomic Nervous System

Limbic System

Read and discuss this article. Have groups conduct a poll using the categories in the article. For example, how many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Read This Article and Discuss in Groups

This project takes place over multiple class sessions (at least 5) and coincides with self-regulatory practice.

Brain Friendly Sequence Step Three

This pattern of conscious self-regulation (and regulatory skill building) followed by social interaction prepares the brain for learning. Once these two steps are complete, learners will be ready to intake new information. Ideally, new information should be introduced via micro-lectures (less than 10 minutes) and followed by applied, practice time.

Introduce Self-Regulation Strategy 1, 2, 3, 4

Brain Friendly Sequence Step Four


Set up your lesson plans using this pattern. 1) Movement (or sensory stimulation), 2) Relationship building (social interaction and collaboration), 3) New information followed by applied learning.

Patterned, repetition is key to brain-friendly environments. Although this pattern may seem unfamiliar at first, it is essential to keep this repetition intact. One way to ensure the sequence stays consistent is to make sure steps one and two don’t extend too long. Keep these segments timed, so that you can get to the step three—cognition— in time to allow for the application of the material, the practice, inside the classroom. This can be as simple as asking students to start their homework individually while you offer support as needed.

When you feel stressed—practice your own mindfulness technics as needed. Share your experience with the class. Modeling safe coping strategies builds resilience into the classroom and opens up the learners to start connecting their own behaviors with their emotions. .

More Research and Commentary from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative via EdSurge