An App that Teaches Kids Self-Regulation
The Zones of Regulation is a digital, interactive learning tool designed to help players successfully recognize and regulate their emotions and responses. The app is based on a widely-used behavioral curriculum developed by occupational therapist Leah Kuypers which provides an intuitive framework and simple language for understanding and talking emotions.
The Zones of Regulation app categorizes emotions into four color-coded zones: the green zone (content, calm, focused); the red zone (anger, terror, “out of control”); the yellow zone (excited, anxious, silly); and the blue zone (sad, tired, bored). ￼
The app allows players to choose a character, and then sets them down in a town square, where they begin to learn about the four different zones. As players run through town, they encounter magic circles corresponding to the different zones. Instructional text explains the meaning of each zone and then asks a question based on that information. If players answer correctly, they are awarded coins, which can be used to purchase speedier shoes or different items of clothing for their characters.
After players have answered enough questions correctly, the app moves on to lessons about triggers for each zone and tools for dealing with them. Players are asked to choose tools (such as taking deep breaths, bouncing a ball, or getting a hug) to place in their own personal toolboxes. The “Stop, Opt, and Go” mini-game allows them to choose a tool to deal with hypothetical triggers. Another mini-game, accessible from the main menu of the app, allows players to practice matching facial expressions and emotions to the different zones.
The app is heavily text-based, which means that it is not appropriate for pre-readers, and early grade readers will at times struggle with the level of the language used. Players may also be frustrated that the app doesn’t always provide the correct answer after a wrong one is chosen. The “Match the Faces” mini-game, for example, simply ends when a player misses a match. There are also some buried treasures within the game that should be accessible from the main menu, such as the interactive graphic demonstrating the “six sides of breathing.” Despite these flaws, the Zones of Regulation app is a useful addition to a therapeutic program focusing on social and emotional skills, and it provides a quick and engaging way for players to learn about the Zones program. ￼
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