Calm Moments Cards (CMC)

Music Participation

Developed by:

Alisa Deininger, OTR/L
Sarah Kolic, OTR/L
Denise Young, COTA/L


The Calm Moments Cards program was speci cally developed, implemented and evaluated in 2014-2016 in order to build the capacity of diverse school personnel (teachers, related service providers, para-educators, and administrators) to recognize signs of stress and anxiety in students during 17 typical situational stressors (e.g. taking a test, completing a writing assignment, transitioning to another class) and apply evidence-based embedded strategies to help reduce stress and anxiety and ehance emotional well-being in order to improve school function.

Each of the 17 Calm Moments Cards includes easy-to-implement evidence-based strategies in the following areas:

  • Thinking strategies (cognitive behavioral)
  • Focusing & Calming strategies (mindfulness, yoga)
  • Sensory strategies (visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive)
Focusing Calming

The Calm Moments Cards also include the name of the situational stressor (e.g. Test Taking) followed by:

  • Triggers – possible causes of anxiety related to the situation (e.g. student has dif culty reading directions on test); and
  • Teaching Moment (Simple evidence-based explanations supporting the use of the activities and strategies listed on the card)

Why are they Needed?

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent diagnosable mental health disorder among children in the United States with 50% experiencing onset by age six.2 Feeling anxious during the school day can lead to restlessness, dif culty concentrating and irritability, leading to challenges in academic and social performance.1

What does the Program Involve?

  • Orientation session: The lead OT will provide a 1-hour orientation session using a power point presentation to educate school personnel about the general signs and symptoms of anxiety, the common school situational stressors that may evoke anxiety, and how to use the 17 Calm Moments Cards.
  • Implementation: The OT will provide ongoing, informal coaching to support school personnel in proactively embedding the thinking, focusing & calming and sensory- based activities throughout the day during or before situational stressors.

To get started, use the materials available in the tabs to the left.


1 Weaver, L. L., & Darragh, A. R. (2015). Systematic review of yoga interventions for anxiety reduction among Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6). doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.020115

2 Merikangas K. R., He, J. P., Brody, D., Fisher, P. W., Bourdon, K., & Koretz, D. S. (2010). Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders among US children in the 2001–2004 NHANES. Pediatrics, 125, 75–81. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2598