Self-Regulation in the Classroom

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Building a caring and inclusive classroom begins with an understanding of where students are at not just academically, but emotionally. Many students today have been exposed to experiences that affect their ability to regulate their emotions. By teaching children positive behavior and self-regulation, teachers can help improve outcomes for all students and build a caring community. This lesson will introduce students to mindful activities and the use of gratitude journals.

PrintTwo 20-Minute Sessions

The learners will...

  • practice self-regulation skills.
  • practice mindful, calming exercises.
  • reflect on their feelings before and after mindful moments.
  • build classroom culture that focuses on gratitude.
Teacher Preparation 

Gather resources for mindfulness.

Print this image of mindful vs mind full.

Home Connection 

GoNoodle is a free resource. Share the link with your classroom families and invite them to try some of the mindful activities at home.



  1. Display the image of “mindful vs mind full” (see Teacher Prep, above) and ask students to describe what they observe and what it makes them think. 

    Ask the students if they ever have a lot going on in their minds. Ask what types of things clutter their minds. Be prepared to share some of what is on your mind to help start the discussion. This may include responsibilities, something we’re looking forward to, something we’re worried about, who we have to talk to, what we're going to eat, or thinking about doing a good job. Sometimes there are so many things going on in our minds, it can be difficult to focus on the present discussion or task.

  2. Say, "If the thought bubble on the left displays a mind full of too many things, what is in the 'mindful' bubble on the right? What do you think mindful means?"

    Tell them that mindfulness is paying attention to what is in this moment only and allowing thoughts to come and go as we focus just on the present moment. 

  3. Say, “We’re going to practice taking time this morning to pause our bodies and calm our minds. Just like after we run really fast or play really hard and our bodies need rest, so too does our mind.  In order to get really good at a sport, we have to practice. The same is true with calming our mind. It takes practice to be mindful.” 

  4. Have students get into a comfortable seated position and watch the video from GoNoodle.

  5. After watching the video, ask students to think of an adjective describing how they felt while watching the video. Have them turn to a partner and tell them the adjective they thought of. Then ask students to say some of the words to the whole class (maybe they say their partner's adjective).

    Go back to the mind full vs mindful image again and discuss the advantages of being mindful. 

  6. Tell the students when we are able to be calm and focused, mindful, we are able to benefit our classroom community as a whole.  Being mindful helps us to be open to learning as much as we can, but also being mindful helps us to be open to our classmates, friends and school community and the ways we can help others create a caring community.

    Remind students of the mindful discussions and video from the previous session. Ask students to recall what they learned about mindfulness or how they felt after the mindful moment.

  7. Session Two:

    Say, “Today we’re going to practice being mindful again, but this time we'll focus only on our breathing." 

    Show examples of athletes using their mindful breathing to calm themselves and focus their efforts.  

  8. Say, "Now it is our turn." Breathe with this 3-minute video.

  9. Another way to bring a sense of calm into our lives is to focus on things we are grateful for.  Introduce the Gratitude Journals.  Allow students to decorate the cover of their journals.  Journals can be used to begin and end your day. Write something you are grateful for each day. It may simply be gratitude for having the basics of life. Expressing gratitude can help us feel more happiness and satisfaction and peace. Feeling gratitude may also lead to generosity.

  10. Optional activity:  End the week in a classroom circle talking about the best thing that happened this week. 

    Listen to an audio example from the Sam Sanders podcast “It’s Been a Minute.”  Sam ends his “Weekly Wrap” podcast by sharing an audio montage of his listeners who have called in to share the best thing that happened to them this week.  
    Sitting together as a class, following the model of a morning meeting, having everyone share the best thing that happened to them this week.
  11. Sharing Ideas: There are many wonderful ways to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom. As a service to others, youth may use social media to share tips for being mindful and grateful.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.8 Recognize the concept of community/social capital in the classroom.