Hands-On Ways To De-Stress | Library Hacks

From test anxiety to worries about school safety, many students are stretched thin. Help them unwind with projects to make stress balls, fidget spinners, and more.
Today's students are under a tremendous amount of stress for many reasons, from an overabundance of testing to stressful situations at home to worrying whether they will be safe when they come to school each day. Fortunately, libraries are stepping up and providing ways to help kids let go of stress, relax, and feel safe. Many libraries are employing art and hands-on activities. According to a study published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, people who participated in just 45 minutes of art activity had significantly lower levels or cortisol, released in response to stress, than others. Here’s how some activities are helping students get hands-on and relax. Homemade stress balls Stress balls are a fun, tangible way for students to release some of that extra stress. “The benefit of squeezing [a stress ball] is that it releases…energy—it also induces you to relax,” David Posen, author of Is Your Work Killing You? (House of Anasi, 2013), commented in a Huffington Post article. The McLure Education Library at The University of Alabama set up a "Make Your Own Emoji Stress Ball" activity (above) using a homemade corn starch recipe for Play-Doh they found online and balloons. You can also make them by filling a balloon with commercial Play-Doh, flour, or rice. Whether you make your own play dough or buy it from the store, roll it into a long thin line or break it into smaller pieces to get it inside the balloon. To fill a balloon with flour or rice, cut an empty water bottle in half and put the balloon around the mouth of the bottle to make your own funnel. Then fill the balloon with your desired filling. Once the balloon is filled, simply tie it off. Coloring pages Coloring pages can be one of the easiest, least expensive ways to help kids wind down. Whether you put out ones with inspirational phrases, like Headington College at the University of Oklahoma (UO) does (above left), or offer collective coloring, where many students color one giant sheet, like A & M Consolidated High School in College Station,TX (above right), it can be a therapeutic way for students to relax. The A&M sheet, written by a student (left), shows that the issue of school safety is never far from students’ minds currently: a student hand-wrote "Please keep our school safe.". You can purchase long coloring sheets from Amazon or Demco, print your own for free from websites including Art Is Fun! or choose coloring page bookmarks from craft websites. Once my students have finished, I like to display the finished artworks in the hall or on library walls. Bubble wrap At UO’s Headington College, staff  set out a basket of bubble wrap for their students to pop "In case of stress" (above). DIY slime Slime is a huge craze now—and concocting it is popular way to help students unwind. Because slime is such a sensory substance, many students find the act of manipulating it therapeutic. With a number of different types of slime recipes available—foam, glitter, magnetic, glow-in-the-dark, to name a few—students can spend hours squishing, jiggling, and bouncing slime. Skyline Library in Dallas, TX, has slime available for students to play with during their off time before school, after school, and during lunch (above). At North Buncombe High School (NBHS) in Weaverville, NC, we let students make glitter slime by mixing glitter glue, baking soda, and saline solution (left). It’s a huge hit—and a good way to use up old glitter. Fidget spinners If you have a 3-D printer, printing fidget spinners is another great making activity that offers stress relief. You can find different printable models on Thingiverse or you have students design or adapt existing designs in Tinkercad. I’ve found that it’s a good idea before printing to make the infill (the density inside of the object) a much higher/denser percentage so it doesn't break when you put in the size 608 skateboard ball bearings. You can also take inspiration from the Red Smith School library in Green Bay, WI (above left): make fidget spinners out of a ball bearing and Perler Beads (above right). Students can design the outside of their own fidget spinners and an adult can help fuse it and insert the ball bearing in the center. Use online tutorials for Perler fidget spinners or others you find on the Internet. Relaxation stations At NBHS library, we set up a temporary "Relaxation Station" in a corner. After bringing in beach towels and beach accessories, we played videos of tropical seascapes on the smart board (above left). A fan adds an ocean breeze effect, and students hang out and color in that area. We originally created this station to help our students relax after the stress of the ACT. We kept it, and enlarged it, to try to help alleviate student stress created by the Parkland, FL school shooting. We also put out Google Cardboard VR glasses (right) and encourage students to download apps such as by YouVisit LLC. They can take virtual vacations without leaving the library. Kindness Rocks The Bethel (CT) High School library set up a rock painting station (above left) for students to paint inspirational or encouraging Kindness Rocks.  As part of the Kindness Rock Project, they can decorate pebbles and leave them in places where others will find them, thereby spreading a little kindness.
Comments

Mac Watson

Awesome! Great post, its really helpful to us for making hand made stress balls at home. Thank you so much for your lovely post. Waiting for your next post.

Posted : Mar 28, 2018 04:28


Frances Wildsmith

Love these ideas! I’m going to try some in my library

Posted : Mar 27, 2018 03:58


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