50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness

Mindfulness has a lot to do with understanding your emotions and using them to broaden your life experiences. Taking time to enjoy the moment.

Today, for me, is both a day of excitement and also one of being humbled.

Today is the release date of my new book, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness published by Featherstone-Bloomsbury and endorsed by Alistair Bryce-Clegg.

I am excited because I know and understand the importance of supporting the life skill of positive mental health and developing strategies in being able to deal with the stresses of life. If children learn positive strategies as a child, they are more likely to have those strategies more firmly embedded and used as an adult.

The blurb sums it up nicely.

“Introducing mindfulness in Early Years settings equips young children with life-long skills that develop as they mature.”

I am pleased that, “50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness features a range of activities that enable children to build awareness of their emotions, focus on the present and empathise more easily with others. From ideas to manage distractions to games for independence, this collection of ideas includes colourful photographs and easy-to-follow instructions, making it a fantastic resources to bring mindfulness into the Early Years.”

Why am I humbled? I am humbled because I get to share this with the people who are working with children every day; with people who truly care about making a difference in a child’s life now and in the future. I am humbled because you are the ones creating a positive legacy for our world.

The book 50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness is part of a great series of books for Early Years education and can be purchased all over the world. Some purchase links are:

Bloomsbury: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/50-fantastic-ideas-for-mindfulness-9781472955227/

UK Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fantastic-Ideas-Mindfulness-Tammie-Prince/dp/1472955226

USA Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fantastic-Ideas-Mindfulness-Tammie-Prince/dp/1472955226

Australia: https://www.booktopia.com.au/50-fantastic-ideas-for-mindfulness-tammie-prince/prod9781472955227.html

My first book is also available around the world, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom published by Bloomsbury. It can be found in English and Spanish around the world.

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Children’s Mental Health Week

The week of 4th February 2019 is Children’s Mental Health Week.

This is championed in the UK by Place2Be https://www.place2be.org.uk supported by HRH Dutches of Cambridge.

We teach children how to write, read, add and subtract along with a whole host of other subjects. Those things are important towards helping them to be successful members of society.

However, if children don’t have the skills and strategies to cope with the stresses that come with the access and use of that knowledge and becoming members of society, they will not be as successful as they can be.

Together, whether we are parents, teachers, club/team leaders or the general public, we need to be actively engaged in giving our children the tools needed for a positive mental health now and in the future.

The development of mindfulness in children can support this positive mental health development.

A number of strategies can be found here for free: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-series/

Share your ideas and activities in the comments.

If you have missed the official week, that is ok. The development of positive mental health in children is for all year long and not just for one week.

Find more mindfulness strategies for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Book Review- Positive Pete and Mindful Molly- Jake’s Silence

Positive Pete and Mindful Molly
Jake’s Silence
By Sukaina Mukhtar

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Thinking differently can be a struggle for humans; for both the child that may have a particular diagnosis or for the other children and adults.

We all know children who can’t sit still, never seem to listen, who don’t follow instructions or shout out inappropriate comments at inappropriate times. Some data shows that nearly 15% of the population is likely to be diagnosed with ADHD by the time they are adults.

Jake’s Silence is  the first of three books. The focus is for children to work on emotional intelligence. Thus,  the second book in this series goes further into using tools like visualisation and meditation.  The aim of the books is to help children become independent of their circumstance by cultivating these tools in order to overcome or manage their challenges.

This story is about a boy called Jake that has his own struggles dealing with ADHD. When dealing with some situations he becomes anxious and this leads to behaviours that others consider “naughty”. The books gives a little inside peek into what Jake is thinking and feeling. It also gives a peek to how others around him are reacting to his behaviours. Then their is Positive Pete and Mindful Molly that help Jake as he struggles through his day.

The book is based on a true story and is a good book for children with or without ADHD and adults. The story itself helps all people to understand what they can do to help themselves and each other. It challenges our attitudes on how we should support one another and not just jump to conclusions.

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Following the story are lots of thought provoking activities that allow us to explore the many themes that come out and can be easily used with one individual, a family or a whole class.

This self-published book can be purchased on Amazon here: https://tinyurl.com/PositivePeteMindfulMolly

You can find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults on my own blog here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness

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The feel of sand beneath your feet, the sound of waves crashing on the beach, the smell of sea water in the air and the sight of the sun rising and setting in the blue sky. What more could you want from a place to relax and recharge?

In research published by Health & Place , subjects living along the coastal regions reported better health and well-being.

Richard Shuster, PsyD, clinical psychologist says, “The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

He goes on to say that the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves kind of de-stimulates our brains. The noises combined with the visuals, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is, as Shuster says in his podcast on The Daily Helping , “responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax and feel more engaged.”

In addition, the simple act of touching the sand makes you feel happy and relaxed. “The physical sensation of putting your feet in warm sand causes people to relax,” says Shuster.

This is great if you live by the sea and if you have time to get to the seaside. But, most of us have very busy lives that don’t allow for this and, if you are a teacher, you know that seaside visits are few and far between for your children with some never actually getting to a beach unless it is a school trip.

So, how can we use mindfulness to virtually get us to the seaside?

Top Tips for a Virtual Seaside Visit

1- Visual Meditations: play videos of beaches and waves crashing on the shore.
Focus children on the rhythm of the waves, the sound of the sea and the sky around it. Reminding them to take long Mindful breaths and allowing all worries to drift along like a cloud.

For a few moments, instruct them to close their eyes and imagine they are on that beach, with their toes in the sand and a warm breeze on their face.

Here are some ocean Meditations that would be good for children and adults:
Morning Meditation Ocean Sunrise – https://youtu.be/UpXMeZuWWR0
Misty Beach Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/E7qRkUYu580
Nice Ocean Waves – https://youtu.be/V-_O7nl0Ii0
One Moment Ocean Meditation – https://youtu.be/RlOZ02HgAnE
Meditation on the Beach – https://youtu.be/jJkEiw6Gh0U
2- Blue Sky Meditation– display pictures of the blue sky like these:

Play quiet meditation music or nature sounds as you guide the children to focus on the photo and take deep mindful breaths.
Photo examples:

Or use these lovely Blue Sky Meditations:
Blue Sky & Cloud Meditation – https://youtu.be/tOf2VRZA-Rc
Blue Sky Meditation (Children’s visualisation) – https://youtu.be/5qoU_XBkm3g
White Clouds on Blue Sky Meditation – https://youtu.be/TWaQwDqERqE
Floating on a Cloud – https://youtu.be/kyQAKcWYtsk

Or, take the children outside on a nice day have them sit or lay back and focus on the clouds as you guide them through deep breathing. (Remind them not to look directly at the sun.)

3- Sand Play– Many Early Years classrooms and units have sand trays for children to play in and that is good. But, in addition, they need trays and larger areas with sand where you encourage children to take off their shoes and wiggle their toes in the soft, shifting sand. Allow children to use various body parts to explore the feeling of sand and get them to focus on the feel, warmth or coldness of the sand against their skin.

I have been compiling useful videos for the Blue Sky & Ocean Mindfulness on YouTube HERE.

By mindfully understanding and enjoy the gifts of nature, we can allow ourselves to relax and be in the present moment.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

Mindful Refocus

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There can sometimes be a misconception about mindfulness. Some people believe that mindfulness is a way of escaping from stress or a way of keeping stress away from you. This is untrue.

Mindfulness will not become some magical shield from stress in your life. No matter how little stress we may have in our lives, our brains will always perceive the most stressful event, no matter how small, as being extremely stressful. Mindfulness gives you the tools to deal with the stress of life.

The key to mindfulness is not getting rid of stress, it is learning how to react to stress.

Even with the best will in the world, our lives get taken over by life. We begin the morning with good intentions; we meditate, we take mindful moments while we brush our teeth and make our tea. But, as our day gets into full swing, our old habits set in and our reptilian brains take over. We react without thought or purpose. Our cortisol levels rise and rise until we are an exhausted heap of human mess.

So, what can you do about that?

Mindful Refocus

Mindful Refocus allows you to return your awareness to the present moment. In order to give myself a frequent reminder, I choose a mindful object.

Once you are dressed for the day, choose an object you are wearing to be your mindful object. It can be a ring, your id badge, necklace, tie, shoes, your watch, a button on your shirt, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is something you will see several times.

During the day, at any point you notice your mindful object, touch it, and complete a Mindful Refocus.

This simple meditation takes only seconds. But, it gives mindful focus for those few seconds and calms the mind so that you can be the best person possible.

Mindful Refocus Activities:

1- Deep Breathing– Take three, deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

2- Sound Meditation– Close your eyes for a moment, stop and listen to the sounds around you. Focus on the pitch, vibration through your body or distance of the sound.

3- Colour Meditation– Choose a colour that you will decide to notice. Take a deep breath and notice five things with that colour.

4- Shoulder Relaxation– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward. Repeat a few times, noticing how your body feels as your shoulders relax.

5- Count Backwards– Take a deep breath and count backwards from 60. Concentrate just on the counting, allowing your body to relax more with each number.

Always remember that mindfulness is not about getting rid stress but how we react to the stress.

Find more mindfulness strategies for children and adults here: www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com or for more ideas for teachers, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom published by Bloomsbury. More information can be found here.

 

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Spring Mindfulness

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The different seasons allow us to explore mindfulness with children in different ways. Spring allows our senses to come alive and examine our senses in a way like no other season.

Celebrate that Spring has sprung with these mindfulness activities.

Flower Breathing

Each day we take about 20,000 breaths. This automatic bodily response keeps us alive and helps to regulate our emotions. When we bring attention to our breathing, we take control of our emotions and reactions through mindful purpose.

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First, get children decorate their own five petaled flower for meditation. For older children, have them add their own positive mantras that they want focus on.

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Once complete, have the children place it near where they work. They trace the flower and Inhale, hold at the point and focus on the positive mantra (if added), exhale and keep going until you’ve gone around the whole flower. Then touch the centre, breathe deeply and close their eyes for a moment.

Cloud Meditation

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Children have a natural mindfulness, particularly when it comes to nature. Now that Spring has begun to peak out from behind the greyness of Winter, the cloud meditation taps into this natural inquisitiveness.

How to do Cloud Meditation:

– Have children sit or lie down with a good view of the clouds.
– Begin by having them take five deep mindful breaths.
– Ask them to stare at the clouds while you ask them these questions to guide the meditation.
Are the clouds fluffy or thin?
Are they moving?
Are they making shapes of things you know?
Are they all the same colour?
What does the sky look like behind the clouds?
– Give them some silent time to just gaze and mindfully explore the clouds.
– Complete the meditation by discussing what they noticed and what emotions were felt.

Sensory Meditation

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Spring brings rebirth to our senses as flowers begin to make their way towards the warm rays of the sun, animals come out of hibernation and the world comes alive once again. Spring allows us to mindfully explore our five senses: sight, taste, Smell, touch and hearing.

Dedicate a week to the senses; appoint each day to a different sense.

– At the beginning of the day, identify the sense to focus on and discuss what they are already noticing. Then, decide to notice that on a given signal. (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)
– Have children take a minute to notice.
– Guide them by asking them questions:
-Have you noticed something or someone you have never noticed before?
-How many different things are you noticing? (I always surprise myself when I   buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice that car EVERYWHERE!)
– Have the children make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate themselves for being in the present and proceed with their learning/work.

Mindful Healthy Eating

Spring brings a burst of fresh fruits and vegetables. Explore mindful healthy eating by trying a variety of new foods. Find the instructions to facilitating mindful eating here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-mindful-eating/

Easter Yoga

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Spark the imagination through the use of these amazing Easter Yoga Poses and Easter Egg Hunt: https://www.kidsyogastories.com/easter-yoga-poses-game/

Happy Spring Everyone!

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.