Book Review by Kerry Macfarlane – 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom

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Note: This is a book review written by  Kerry Macfarlane who is a Primary
Teacher, Specialist Leader and PSHE/Mental Wellbeing Lead at Corpus Christi Primary School, Bournemouth. You can follow Kerry on Twitter ‪@KAB21MAC‬.

If you’re looking for ways to develop mindfulness in the primary classroom, this book has it all! Loaded with a wealth of inspired ideas, activities and tips, ‘Mindfulness in the Classroom’ is a superb toolkit, full of mindful practices designed to support children’s mental health in a simple, manageable way within the classroom.

The impact of mindfulness is a growing area of interest in supporting children’s well-being. In my experience, equipping children with a repertoire of skills and strategies to use mindful practice enables them to manage their feelings, especially their ability to cope with stress and anxiety to achieve a state of calm. This book offers practical ways to support children’s skills of emotional self-management through a variety of engaging and accessible mindful practices.

Tammie’s activity ideas are easy to implement, effective take-aways for any primary classroom practitioner. Among my favourites are Mind Jar Meditation, Body Scan, Yoga practice, Random Acts of Kindness and the Gratitude Jar.

Congratulations to Tammie on producing such a fabulous gem of a book to inspire mindfulness within and beyond the primary classroom for both children and teachers.

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom is written by Tammie Prince and published by Bloomsbury. You can find more information on the book and where you can order the book here.

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Mindfulness in the Classroom – Empowering Question Meditation

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Questions are at the centre of most of the achievements and progress of human beings. The “What ifs…” and “I wonder whys…” help to give direction to our lives. The right questions can help to ground and focus our minds. The mindful reflection of empowering questions supports the development of our emotional Intelligence.

Empowering Questions allow us to explore our ability to be grateful, develop resilience and focus on the most important things in life. It allows us to immerse ourselves in mindfulness.

Mindful Empowering Questions for Children

1. What do you do really, really well?
2. What one thing do you really like about yourself the most? Why do you like that?
3. What 3 words describe you best? Why?
4. What would you like to learn to do really, really well? What can you do today to begin?
5. What do you love doing the most? Why?
6. Who are your friends? Why are they your friends?
7. What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?
8. How do you feel today? Why do you feel that way?
9. What is one thing you are thankful for in your life? Why?
10. What is one thing that you could do to make the school a better place? Why?
11. What do you imagine yourself doing 10 years from now?
12. What motivates you to do your very best?
13. Who do you need to forgive?
14. Right now, at this very moment, what do you want most? What are you going to do about it?
15. What do you love most about yourself?

Additional Mindful Empowering Questions for Adults

1. How do you define your purpose in life?
2. If you could go back in time by 5 years, what would you tell yourself?
3. When was the last time you did something for the very first time?
4. What are your top 5 values? Are you living those values every day?
5. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
6. What has the fear of failure stopped you from doing? What one step could you take today to begin overcoming that fear?
7. Do you have healthy boundaries or do you let people take advantage of you?
8. What are you the most grateful for in your life? Why?
9. What are you most proud about your life? Why?
10. What is one thing you can do today that can make someone else’s life better? How can you accomplish this?
11. What is the most courageous thing I have done?
12. How have I become me? What am I like?
13. What are the things that make me happy?
14. In what kin of things am I brilliant?
15. Who am I?

How to use Mindful Empowering Question Meditation

1- Choose an Empowering Question to be used in the meditation.
2- Put on some soft meditation music and dim the lights.
3- Find a comfortable position either sitting or standing.
4- Take 3 deep mindful breaths, allowing the shoulders to relax and their eyes to slowly close.
5- Ask the Empowering Question and Have participants softly repeat it.
6- Encourage the participants to reflect silently on their answer while continuing to breathe deeply for 2-15 minutes depending on the age of the participants and their experience level.
–          Encourage the reflection to include visualising themselves in the situation of the question.
7- Complete the Meditation with 3 mindful breaths and have everyone open their eyes.

Mindful Empowering Questioning will help to support increased happiness, Stress Management, build self-esteem, overcome fears and achieve greater mindfulness.

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Valentine Mindfulness (AKA Loving Kindness Mindfulness)

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As we move towards the month of February, our minds tend to fall upon Valentine’s Day and the whole concept of LOVE. LOVE can be described in many different ways. But, really LOVE is about social connection between one or more people.

There is a fundamental need by humans for social connection; feeling kindness from and towards others allows for positive emotional well-being, improved health, decreased negative stress responses, greater empathy and heightened self-esteem.

Research by Hutcherson, Seppälä and Gross on Loving-kindness meditation that increases social connectedness, found even a few minutes of Loving Kindness meditation increased our feelings of social connection and positivity towards others. Loving-Kindness Meditations focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others, increasing love, joy, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement and awe.

Here are a selection of Loving-Kindness Meditations that can support the development of mindfulness for children and adults.

#RandomActsofKindness Hearts 

#RandomActsofKindness change the attitude of a class from whining and moaning to one of appreciation and gratitude.

How to:
* Discuss with children what a random act of kindness is and come up with a list of RAKs for at least the number of children in the class.
* Write these RAKs on individual hearts , fold and put into a hat/bag/bowl and allow each child to take one RAK. (NO TELLING! It is a secret!)
* Alternatively, each child can come up with their own RAK. (They are more likely to be able to do this after they get the practice of RAKs.)
* During the given time frame, the child is to complete the act WITHOUT saying they are completing the RAK. (This will also take some time as at first, they will want to tell everyone what they have done. The point of RAKs is to do a RAK without recognition. This will be the ultimate level of this mindful practice.)
* After the given time frame, as a class, discuss how completing the RAK made them feel and how they think it made the other person feel.

Loving Kindness Guided Meditations
Guided meditations focuses the mind on one aspect.  For Loving Kindness meditations, it focuses our minds of being kind to ourselves and to others.  It really is about spreading kindness.
Here are a few that you may find useful for your class and yourself:
Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children: https://youtu.be/YRwQrzogy-g
Loving Kindness Meditation for primary children :  https://youtu.be/-9_ZHnltMe0
Loving Kindness Meditation for upper primary children and teenagers: https://youtu.be/sz7cpV7ERsM
Loving Kindness Meditation for adults/ teenagers: https://youtu.be/MKtXw-tivZg

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Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling
The goal of Mindful Doodling is to fully engage with your doodles in a meditative way. It requires slowing down, focusing on the paper and pen and doodling repeatively with full intent. More details, including how to and the benefits, can be found here.

While the children are doing Mindful Loving Kindness Doodling, have them focus on positive, loving and caring thoughts towards different people, including themselves. You can do this over a period of days focusing on one section at a time that would give maximum impact of the components of this mindfulness strategy.

You or the children can free hand draw your hearts or you can print out drawn hearts.

Here are some free printable heart shapes to doodle:
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/lots-of-hearts?tag=57097
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/hearts?tag=57097
http://www.coloringcastle.com/pdfs/shapes/s-heart.pdf

Finger Labyrinths
Labyrinths have been around for more than 4,000 years and have been used for relaxation, meditation and prayer that has brought spiritual and emotional well-being to the lives of those who used them.

Finger Labyrinths are known to help children relax, feel better when they are sad or scared, deal with situations when they feel ashamed or embarrassed and help them to concentrate. (Find out more in the Education’s Voice post on Finger Labyrinths here.)

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The Smiling HeartPath Finger Labyrinth Meditation is perfect to support the development of Mindful Loving Kindness. ( Originally found here )

Print out the Smiling HeartPath for each child, initially allow time for Mindful Colouring and then use, following the directions on the sheet.

Mindful Singing

Loving Kindness Song– Something that we know brings joy to many people is the act of singing and, with it part of the curriculum, this is another way to bring mindfulness to the forefront in an integrated way.
This Loving Kindness Dance Remix is an upbeat song that brings combines Loving Kindness with the joy of singing and great to use every day!
Meditation Dance Remix:  https://youtu.be/93mj4PaiOUo

What other Loving Kindness strategies have you used?

2017 Education’s Voice – Top 10 Mindfulness Posts

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It is at this time of the year that we can sit back and reflect on the year gone. For me, there have been many highs and a few lows. However, the one constant in my life has been this blog. Sharing mindfulness with others is always one that gives me peace and joy. This year I wrote 30 new posts. So, with excitement, I have looked over the data and can happily reveal the Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017.

#10100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom (the book): This Post is a bucket list ticker for me. It is about my book published by Bloomsbury, where it can be bought and a definite high point of 2017.

#9Mindfulness in the Classroom- Using Play Dough Part 1: Play Dough has been known for its therapeutic properties. The squishing and pounding, pinching and moulding provides a Kinesthetic/ kinaesthetic learning opportunity that can be used to enhance the development of mindfulness. This post gives you a simple recipe, how to do a Play Dough Meditation and how to make a mandala with Play Dough.

#8Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Christmas Mindfulness: Christmas is a stressful time of the year for most people. Add 30+ Christmas happy children, several Christmas performances and Christmas parties on top of the normal day to day life of a teacher, and the Christmas time stress doubles. This post outlines four weekly challenges for Christmas to help calm the anxiety and stress of the season.

#7Teacher and Leader Mindfulness- A Mindful Ofsted- Top 5 Tips: This Post outlines how we can prepare before hand for a more mindful way that allows us to show our schools at their best.

#6Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation: Refocusing without judgement is a positive mindful activity that allows children to take a breather, allow a moment to step back from the work and then continue in a mindful way that allows for maximum progress. This simple Colour Meditation allows for quick refocusing in the Classroom.

#5Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies: when developing mindfulness in a school, it is important that it becomes part and parcel of school life, this includes Assemblies. This post is filled with whole school mindfulness strategies to keep a school mindful.

#4Teacher and Leader Mindfulness – Holiday Mindfulness To Do List: Holidays/Vacations are important times (and much needed) for educators. There is no debate regarding the stress caused by working in schools. So, Taking holidays seriously as a time to recover and refresh is important. This To Do List helps get us back on the right track.

#3Mindfulness in the Classroom – Top Test Taking Tips: National testing is a part of education systems across the world. Every year, millions of children (and adults) sit down for timed, standardised tests. The anxiety levels hit an all time high. For some people, this adrenaline rush helps them. However, for many more, this stress doesn’t allow them to be at their best. These mindful tips can help make a difference and allow children to shine.

#2Mindfulness in the Classroom-Using Play Dough Part 2: who doesn’t like Play Dough? You can mash it, hit it, squish it and roll it. In this post, we look at how to use it as part of mindfulness development by making worry stones, finger labyrinths and stone towers.

#1Top Tips – Mindfulness and Tinnitus: This Post hit a need beyond just those in education. Tinnitus is a scared and annoying condition. There is no cure. Thus, those that suffer from Tinnitus have to learn to live with it and mindfulness is one way.

This is a fantastic and diverse list that I am proud of.

A special thanks go to family, friends and followers for indulging me and allowing me to share. I wish you and yours an amazing and mindful 2018!

Mindfulness In The Classroom – Five Things (Mindful Diversion)

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We know that breathing (read about different techniques here) is a top strategy to mindfully taking control of those emotions. However, some children (and adults) still find it difficult to just dive into calm, controlled breathing. If their anxiety is at its highest point, just breathing just doesn’t cut it.

Five Things is a Mindful Diversion strategy to get the child to the point of controlled Mindful Breathing.

How to use Five Things:

If the usual breathing strategies are not working or you know the child well enough to realise the child has reach the point that Mindful Breathing will not be as effective as it can, then:

  • Ask the child to name five things that they can see. If they still are not engaging in actively looking for five things they can see, then you begin…
  • “I see a blue book.” “Do you see the blue book?” “Where is the blue book?
  •  Continue to name things, encouraging them each time to name an object              before you name an object.
  • Repeat with what they can hear.
  • Repeat with what they can smell.

By the end, the person’s mind should divert from the negative spiral and be back to the present moment where breathing strategies can have maximum impact.

NOTE: This is an equally effective strategy for children and adults.

Find more mindfulness strategies on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com and in the Bloomsbury book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom by Tammie Prince ( Bloomsbury Link, Amazon Link )

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Christmas Mindfulness

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Christmas is a stressful time for children and adults. The build up towards the BIG day is exciting and chaotic; so many colours, twinkling lights and sounds fill our environment! Our routines are disrupted and we can all get overwhelmed.

Here are some ideas that can help you to continue to develop Mindfulness that can lead to a quieter, calmer December!

Mindful Positivity

Mindful Christmas Chain
Put a twist on the Advent Calendar! Each day, give each child a link for a Christmas Chain and write one positive thing that had happened that day, decorate it and add it to the ever expanding Christmas Chain. Encourage the children to tell their parents about their Chain link each day (or have them make two chain links and send one home to make a chain at home) and watch positivity about school spiral up in the run-up to Christmas.

Mindful Meditation

Christmas Star Meditation

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Breathing is one of the most natural things a person can do and an automatic reflex that is hard wired in our brains. How many times have you heard someone say, “Breathe!”, when someone is upset? What about a deep sigh when one is frustrated. It is purely natural reflex which helps us relax.
This Christmas Star Breathing adds a Christmas focus to a simple Mindfulness strategy.

First, get children decorate their own Christmas star for meditation.

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Once complete, have the children place it near where they work. They trace the star and Inhale, hold at the point, exhale and keep going until you’ve gone around the whole star.

Christmas Meditation Music
Playing low music in the background as the children transition to a new activity or as they work diligently on their maths problems and writing, is a way to support behaviour management in the classroom while also supporting children’s learning. Here are some nice Christmas meditation music that allows for a calm, mindful Christmas atmosphere.

https://youtu.be/r-K1t8AZVyI
https://youtu.be/5_2OT7n_V0I
https://youtu.be/fl_XBFfeyh4
https://youtu.be/Uwx3puPyMdA

Christmas Mind Bottle

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Create and use Christmas themed Mind Jars. Instructions for making and using the bottles can be found here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mind-jar-meditation/ use Christmas themed glitter, sequins and colours to go with the season.

Mindful Gratitude
Gratitude is a fundamental feature of Mindfulness. We are able to change synapsis in the hypothalamus which controls emotion by waddling in our thankfulness.

Gratitude Christmas Tree
Decorate a tree or your class with the things you are grateful for. Your class can draw people, experiences, or things they are grateful for on small Christmas shapes. Then add them to your class decorations. The tree and decorations can act as a daily reminder of things that they are thankful for.
https://mothersniche.com/gratitude-lights-for-christmas-free-printables/ (Christmas lights decorations)

Thank you Cards

Create a selection of Thank You cards to take home over the holidays. Their homework is to complete with a message of thankfulness for gifts and time spent together with family and friends and given to them.
https://www.thebalance.com/free-printable-christmas-thank-you-cards-1356274 (free printable thank you cards/notes)
https://teachingmama.org/christmas-thank-you-cards-kids-can-make/ (Hand-made thank you card ideas)

Christmas Yoga

Christmas Yoga
 helps us to recent research, relax and refocus. These yoga poses can be done in class with no extra space. Use it at the start or end of lessons as a transition in lessons or times of the day.

Christmas Tree pose
Children are to:
* Stand up straight and tall. Breathe in and out and feel your feet rooting into the floor. Keeping their eyes focused on one spot.
* They then need to lift up one leg by bending at the knee and placing that foot on the ankle or calf of the other leg.
* Have them Inhale and exhale while in tree pose and imagining they are being covered in decorations or snow.
* Then they lift their arms in the air. Try to hold for 3 slow deep breaths.
* Slowly place your foot back on the ground and repeat on the other side.

Christmas Gift pose
This is a variation on child’s pose.
Have children:
* Curl into a ball , keeping legs and feet underneath the body and feet on the floor.
* Are to focus on breathing in and out slowly, feeling the breath move into the ribs and the back of the body.
* After a few quiet breaths, get the children to slowly rise up on their knees as if the gift is being unwrapped and revealed.

Star pose
Have children:
Get in a full body stretch and feel energized.
* Stand with legs wide apart and stretch your arms out wide, making a star shape. Relax the neck and shoulders and breathe slowly and deeply. Hold for 5 slow deep breaths.

Education’s Voice wish you, your class and your family a mindful Christmas!

Find more mindfulness strategies on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com and in the Bloomsbury book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom by Tammie Prince ( Bloomsbury Link,  Amazon Link )

 

Mindfulness in the Classroom Guest Blog – Colour Meditation

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Guest Blogger Gill Hancock – International School Teacher

Never underestimate the power of colour, it can capture memories, places, moments as well as word and pictures. But how do young children view colour? Colours, together with shapes can help encourage children to define and organize the diverse world around them. What about all those colours yet to be given a name? It’s a mindful practice to look carefully at colours and really see them.

Setting my Year 1 class a challenge, I wanted them to take a moment to really appreciate the colours around them. They each chose a colour and when it was time to play outside, they sat for a minute, observing the hustle and bustle of playground games, thinking about the colour of their choice. They then explored the space around them, thinking about objects and people wearing that colour.

Upon returning to class, I asked what they had seen. Each child had a contribution to make :
Soft yellow sand grains, purple crinkly leaves, a turquoise coat, bright purple buttons, a light blue sky, a golden wool hat. The observations were enlightening, I congratulated them for being in the present moment, challenging themselves to observe and then describe the array of colours around them.

How colourful is our world……

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About the Author:  Gill Hancock is a KS1 practitioner, working in an International school. With 20 years experience of KS1, KS2 and KS3 students, Gill firmly believes in the practice of mindfulness to empower students to think about the present moment in the ever increasing pace of modern life.

Follow Gill on Twitter @GillHanock

Find out about Colour Meditation at Mindfulness in the Classroom- Colour Meditation or Other mindfulness ideas in the book by Tammie Prince, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom published by Bloomsbury.