Incorporate Zones into Your Curriculum

Posted by Kris Baker on 9/6/2018 7:00:00 AM

Ugh - one more thing!  As a teacher sometimes different initiatives, activities and trainings can result in just one more chunk of the day that is gone.  By the end of the year you are spent, tapped out and overwhelmed. Maybe you are that way already. Maybe you are already in the red zone!  While Zones is “one more thing” I believe that the effectiveness of learning the zones and the associated emotional vocabulary enhances one’s ability to generalize these zones within the general education curriculum so that it isn’t one more thing, but a common vocabulary in your classroom used by ALL students.  Let’s be honest, all kiddos can benefit from self-regulation.

The previous article, Getting in the Zone, shared different ways to create visuals to support the different zones.  When we are escalated, our stress levels rise and our processing slows down.  For this reason, it is beneficial to have visuals for students to use when escalated or struggling to communicate due to emotionality. The Zones of Regulation ® book  includes free black and white as well as color printables with the book to create visual supports that can be large enough for a class-wide bulletin board, or small enough for individual students.  

Incorporating the language of feelings and emotions in relation to the Zones in the general curriculum is easier than you might think.  Below are some guiding questions that can be used with any fiction or non-fiction text.

  • What zone was the character in at the beginning of the story?  Middle? End?
  • What words did the author use to let you know how the character was feeling?
  • Did the character’s zone change during the story?  How? Why?
  • Did the character’s zone affect others in the story? How do you know?
  • List the emotions the character experiences in the story?  Place these emotions in the zones.
  • What the character able to refocus and go back to green?  If so, how? If not, what could the character have done to get back to green?  
  • What could the character have done to prevent going to the red zone?  What do you do to prevent going to red?
  • Choose a character from the story and list the emotions and feelings they experienced.  Is this person like you or not like you? Explain. How did this character’s emotions impact the story or other characters in the story?

Content areas such as social studies and science can also correlate with the different Zones.  For example if reading about the Underground Railroad:

  • After a day of travelling, what Zone do you think the runaway slaves were in once they made it to a station along the Underground Railroad?
  • What Zone do you think they were in during a hot day of travelling?
  • What tools could have been used to stay calm and stop someone from going to the red Zone?
  • What Zone do you think they were in once the crossed the border to the north or Canada?
  • What Zone do you think the station masters were in when hiding fugitives?  


  • When learning about different scientists and their many struggles for success, failed experiments and successful discoveries and relate their experiences to the Zones they may have gone through on their journey of scientific discovery.
  • After students have developed a hypothesis and tested it - discuss whether they proved their hypothesis or not and how that makes them feel.  Discuss struggles they may have had during the experiment, what zone they may have been in and/or what they did to stay in the green zone.

For Math, the book includes different methods for students to track and monitor their different Zones.  These activities can be used in data collection, analysis and graphing. Student can create their own chart in Excel or Google Sheet as a method of self-monitoring.  

Zones tracking

These activities support a variety of Indiana State standards and target skills such as comprehension skills, critical thinking, inference and analysis.  These are just a few of the many ways that Zones and self-regulation can be enveloped as part of the class discussion instead of an additional activity or lesson.


Kuypers, L. (2017).

Kuypers,  L. (2011). Zones of Regulation:  A curriculum designed to foster self-regulation and emotional control.  Think Social Publishing. Santa Clara, CA


Kris Baker, Autism Consultant