IMG_2609Caution! Fun day learning about Social Thinking®! Today I had students reflect on their Zones® and their “triggers” while we played Operation Star Wars. We learned in the Zones of Regulation® curriculum that triggers are things or thoughts that make you feel worried, upset, or frustrated. If you want others to have good thoughts about you, you need to use caution when you encounter a trigger. It’s time to pause and use a tool or strategy to get you back in the Green Zone. If you aren’t familiar with the Zones of Regulation,  it is a wonderful curriculum by Leah Kuypers that provides strategies to teach students self-regulation.  Please go to for more information.

Now, back to our game….

In the Star Wars edition of the classic Operation game, players are helping C-3PO and R2-D2 with some defective droid parts. Players find a Pain in the Neck, a Bad Memory Module, a Cranky Crankshaft, etc.. Our Zones twist to this game opened with a discussion about how we all have times when we are needing a little tune-up just like C-3PO and R2-D2.


As they took turns, the students shared some of the triggers that moves them out of the Green Zone. Some of the triggers my students came up with were:

  • Schedule change.
  • Too much work to do.
  • Other students being disruptive and disrespectful.
  • Confusion.
  • Someone is in my personal space.
  • Being told “no.”

Once they shared a trigger, they wrote the trigger on a sticky note and put it on our Zones Trigger poster (available at


We talked about the need to create some space between the event and your reaction. If your reaction is big, you may be sending a message that will make others treat you badly in return. Crossing your arms, making an angry face, or yelling makes other people feel uncomfortable and they may not be very friendly towards you.

Our last step was to share (before we took a turn operating) strategies or tools we could use to get back to the Green Zone.




Some strategies my students use are:

  • Breathe deeply.
  • Drink water.
  • Color a picture (currently we are loving the ZenThoughts Coloring Book. 
  • Imagining a peaceful spot.
  • Talk to an adult.
  • Read
  • Take a break in a quiet space.

I reminded my group that Yoda says,

“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace.”



Social Thinking® is a term coined by Michelle Garcia Winner and represents a coordinated teaching framework of curricula, vocabulary, teaching tools and strategies for individuals aged preschool through adults. Learn more at To learn more about the Zones of Regulation®, go to and



About mhkeiger

I am a Social Learning Specialist and owner of Ausomely Social LLC. I have presented at the Social Thinking Providers Conference. I received my bachelor's degree in English from Salem College and my master's degree in Cross-Categorical Education from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. I am a long-term member of the Autism Society of North Carolina. I was awarded Professional of the Year by the Autism Society of North Carolina in 2003. I have over 29 years of extensive training and experience in the area of social skills.

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