Mindfulness in the Classroom – Christmas Mindfulness

Design

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

IMG_3190
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.

IMG_3189

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

IMG_3191
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 )

 

Advertisements

Mindfulness in the Classroom – Autumn Mindfulness

Design.png

Autumn is an amazing season. The crisp, cool air, the fluttering of leaves falling to the ground and the smell of nature changing as it prepares for winter. Appreciating the world around us allows for a deepening of our mindfulness practice and no one does it better than children.

Why not celebrate this change with some of these Autumn filled Mindfulness ideas.

Leaf Meditation

Find a place where your class can have a few minutes of quiet space; maybe it is in your school’s nature area, in a local park, a walk through some woodlands or, if all else fails, the classroom with access to lots of newly fallen leaves.

Have the children:
– Pick up the leaf and lay it in your hands.
– Notice the colours, the different in shades of colours and fading of one colour to another colour.
– Notice the veins in the leaf, the main stem, the edges of the leaf.
– Feel the leaf. Run their fingers over the top and bottom; along the edges. Notice the differences. Rub it against their face or over the top of their hand. Use nerve endings that normally are not used to feel objects. Notice the difference.
– Smell the leaf. Note the scent. Inhale deeply and notice the memories it may bring up.

Have them close their eyes and take a minute to breathe deeply and allow themselves to be in awe and wonder of the moment they have had with the leaf.

Autumn Nature Walk
Take the children on a nature walk. While on the walk, periodically have the children stop and notice one object (flower, stone, stick, leaf, etc) or sound (bird chirping, water trickling, car passing, etc) and spend a few moments appreciating that one moment. Repeat several times. When they get back to class, have them recreate their walk through drawings or doodles while listening to soothing Autumn themed meditation Music. ( https://youtu.be/w0szAwgybZs )

Walking Labyrinths

Create Walking Labyrinths using leaves, stick, pine cones, etc for children to walk.

How to do a Walking Labyrinth Meditation?
1. Take deep breaths to begin to relax and focus on the entrance to the labyrinth.
2. Children are to slowly walk the path of the labyrinth, focusing on one step at a time taking a deep breath on each step. Once at the centre of the labyrinth, they turn around and return to the entrance.
3.  When they are finished, have them sit back, breathe deeply and relax. Observe how you are feeling again.

PlayDough Mindfulness

Have children make their own Play Dough adding Autumn themed spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, all spice or pumpkin spice to enhance the smell. Use the Play Dough to create a nature mandala. Find the instructions for making the playdough and creating the mandalas here.

Autumn Meditation Music

Set the scene in the Classroom by using Autumn Meditation music like this one: https://youtu.be/w0szAwgybZs . It mixes nice calm music with the sounds of nature. It is useful to use during transition periods, writing or handwriting periods.

Happy Autumn everyone!

This post was reblogged on  Collaboroo (www.collaboroo.com ). Collaboroo is a growing community of like-minded teaching professionals who love what they do. Together the connect, collaborate and create to teach happy. They want to make education accessible, enjoyable and achievable for every child.

 

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies

IMG_1975

In my opinion, the development of Mindfulness should be a whole school initiative that sees the development of these life long skills by adults and children alike (and parents). It should be a part of the everyday life of the school and part of the school’s deeper ethos.

Whole School assemblies are a great way for the leaders of the school to use and model Mindfulness and emphasise the importance the practice has in your school. The use of basic mindfulness strategies can have positive impact on Assembly behaviour and continue calmness for children and staff following the Assembly. I have personally used the strategies with assemblies a big as 450-500 children.

Before using the strategies for the first time, set a basic ground rule.

Ground Rule:
If you choose not to take part in the mindful breathing, meditation or Follow Me game, they are to be respectful to all others who have chosen to partake and sit quietly. (This may have to be reminded a few times. But, the vast majority will take part and many who don’t at first Do eventually start participating or continue to be respectful.)

How do I use Mindfulness in Assemblies?

1- Meditation Music:  I ensure that meditation music is playing as the children come into the hall. The calm music sets the scene and expectations for the Assembly. (A variety of music can be found in the blog post Music or on my YouTube channel.) The expectation is silence. But, seldom do I have to remind the children of this expectation.

2- Follow Me game: It is similar to Simon Says without the verbal aspect. Children MUST be paying attention and following the hand movements you make. The hand movements are slow, deliberate movements that flow with the music being played. (The focused attention and concentration required for this activity is relaxing and puts children in the moment.)

3- Mindful Breathing: When the last class is being seated, the leader guides the children and staff through one of these breathing meditations:

– One Minute Meditation: You verbally guide the children through 15 deep mindful breaths (Various breathing techniques can be found here. However, the two that I am partial to for large assemblies are the basic breathing and the snake breaths.)

– Starfish Meditation: The strategy can be found here and is usually a whole school favourite.

4- Mindful Singing: Singing is made up of deep breaths and long exhales which is natural calming strategy. We also know that music itself can have meditative properties. How to use this strategy can be found here.

Note: At anytime during the Assembly that the children seem to be becoming more talkative or less attentive, guiding everyone through a few deep mindful breaths usually settles everyone. Also, end the Assembly with either Mindful Singing or Mindful Breathing.

The content of the Assembly is now yours to choose.
I hope to share some of the assemblies we do this year that have a clear, direct or indirect focus on Mindfulness development.

Top tips:

– Be in the hall BEFORE the first class arrives. This works best when everything is in place and you are playing the music and playing Follow Me as they come in and sit down.
– Periodically, remind children of what they are doing, why and how it helps them.
– If you are still unclear about how this work, please let me know and I will help accordingly.

When children see adults using Mindfulness strategies successfully, they will see the value of these skills.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Top Mindfulness Tips for Supply/Substitute Teachers

Design

 

Being a supply/substitute teacher is not an easy gig. Many times you are walking into an unknown classroom filled with children that may find Ann known teacher distressing or a license to test the behaviour waters. A supply/substitute teacher needs to have a tool kit of quick and easy ways to support calm across the classroom. Many mindfulness activities can do just that!

Here are my Top Mindfulness Tips for Supply/Substitute Teachers:

1- BREATHE! Within the first few minutes, teach the children how to do Deep Mindful Breathing. Start off by explaining you are teaching them how they can trick their brain to believe they are calm. Explain the science of this technique. The strategy can be found here.
(You could even tell them it is a secret trick and show them one of the themed Breathing strategies.)

2- MEDITATION MUSIC Have a USB drive that you have downloaded a significant number of meditation songs or, better yet, download a 3-4 hour meditation music compilation from YouTube. Keep the music handy to play in the background while children are doing independent work. It will help to keep a sense of calm. More about this strategy can be found here.

3- MINDFUL DOODLING  Children are usually told NOT to doodle. Explain to them that this Doodling is special and will help them to remember what they have been taught today (relaxes the mind to allow the learning make connections in the brain. Play the meditation music in the background. The strategy is explained here.

4- MINDFUL LISTENING Explain to the children that the Headteacher/Principal has a special mission for them today. When they hear a special bell ring, they are to stop, close their eyes and just silently listen to all the things they can hear inside and outside the classroom. Then when you say stop, they are to quietly write the sounds down and go back to work. At the end of the day, all the lists are collected and given to the Headteacher/Principal. (You must give to the Headteacher/Principal as the children WILL as them!) You can find a special bell here.

5- GRATITUDE Throughout the day, get the children to stop, take three mindful breaths and silently write one thing they are thankful for on their special GRATITUDE LIST. By the end of the day, the list will be long and filled with happy thoughts. Send it home with the children to share with their parents. More information on Mindful Gratitude can be found here.

Sometimes it is the simple things that have the greatest impact.

Mindfulness for Children- Top Mindful Sleep Tips For Parents

IMG_1104

A common concern for parents is the lack of their child’s ability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation  in children results in:

  • Poor concentration leading to a fall in academic performance.
  • Chronically sleep-deprived teenagers become more impulsive leading to risk-taking behaviours.
  • Sleeping problems increase the risk of disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Children start getting negative feelings which may lead to depression.

How Much Sleep Does a Child Need?

National-Sleep-Foundation-recommendations

A study showed that an increase in sleep time by approximately 30 minutes every night for 5 nights had an immediate impact on emotional ability and restless-impulsive behaviors of children in school. (1)

With this in mind, how can you, as a parent, support your child in getting the right amount of sleep each night?

Top Sleep Tips 

  • Bed Time:  Have a set bed time or wind-down time to bed time. Set patterns trigger the habit of sleep.
  • Mindful Breathing:  The breathing changes energy from tension to relaxation. It does this by turning off our sympathetic nervous system that produces stress hormones. This then turns on our parasympathetic nervous system, which turns off the stress hormone pump. So, deep breathing relaxes the body, decreases the heart rates lowers the blood pressure and creates the feeling of calmness.
    • Belly Breathing– Sit or lay comfortably. Place your hands on your belly and take a deep breath in for four counts, blowing up your belly like a balloon. Hold the breath for one count and then slowly exhale for five counts, deflating the balloon in your belly. Continue to do this for a few minutes until you see or feel calm and relaxed. (With young children, have them place their soft cuddly animal on their tummies to do this exercise.)
  • Mindful Gratitude– Once the child has relaxed with the mindful breathing, have them think of one thing they are thankful for or made them happy during the day. Have them imagine what it felt like, encouraging them to close their eyes and see it in their mind and smile.
  • Meditation Music:  Sometimes silence is worse than noise and can keep children awake. Playing soft meditation music can help children relax as they listen and drift off to sleep. (You can find several free options on my YouTube channel that can be found here.)
  • BEDTIME – GUIDED MEDITATIONS for Children:  Turn off the lights and play one of the following guided meditations (or find your own in my library of sleep meditations found here.)

If, after a period of time, this does not help your child drift off into a peaceful sleep and get the recommended sleep time, I suggest visiting your family doctor for support and advice.

(1) Gruber R, Cassoff J, Frenette S, Wiebe S, Carrier J. Impact of sleep extension and restriction on children’s emotional lability and impulsivity. Pediatrics. 2012 Nov;130(5):e1155-61. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0564. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Calm Down Box

Design

Some children find it more difficult than others when being able to control their emotions. Sometimes they need some additional support in focusing themselves in using mindfulness strategies to calm down.

Calm Down Boxes help to encourage children to a more peaceful state when they are the most anxious by occupying them with tangible, mindful inducing objects. The boxes seem most effective for children with autism (or autistic tendencies), ADHD or Attachment Disorder.

These boxes should contain objects that appeal to the senses; look, touch, smell and sound.

The best boxes are ones that are tailored to the individual child and should have input into what are they have.

You will need:
– A box with a lid that is the size of a shoe box or smaller.
– A variety of sensory objects that the child can choose from. I suggest that they choose 5 different objects to begin with and then, slowly over time, allow them to add to their box later on.

Examples of objects:
– glitter bottle
– soft, squeeze ball
– harder, spiky ball
– stress ball
– play dough
– soft pipe cleaners
– sparkly pipe cleaners
– small, soft cuddly toy (I like to add a few drops of lavender oil.)
– textured cloth
– sea shell
– bendy straw
– small bean bag (add a few drops of lavender oil)
– tangle toy
– chew toy
– smooth river stones (worry stone)
– worry dolls
– stretchy toys
– small pin wheel
– small bottle of bubbles
– tissue paper
– photos of a favourite person or animal

 

How to use:

Encourage its use when the child begins to become anxious. As they are using the objects, encourage Deep Breathing to enhance the effects of the sensory objects and refrain from talking to them until they are visibly more calm and ready to put the box away.

Note: The objects should stay in the box when not being used to calm down.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Every Little Bit Counts

Design

This past week has been a busy one for many Primary schools across England. It is collectively known as SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) Week for Year 6 children. The instructions for giving the tests are strict and must be given at specific times on specific days. Over a period of four days they take six different tests. Anyone who works in a primary school or is a parent of a Year 6 child, will know about the overwhelming stress that this puts on the children; particularly as they have become much harder over the last few years.

This year has been no different, except that I felt helpless with supporting the Year 6 children at my new school. The tests were scheduled for my third week of school! The school had not been teaching any of the strategies for mindfulness and it made me sad that I may not be able to help this group of children properly prepare themselves mentally to face the challenges the tests would present.

After some discussion with the class teacher, I decided to teach the children a few basic mindfulness strategies.

First, we discussed how they were feeling about the tests, considering the emotions that were attached to these feelings and how our body responds. Of course, what they told me was of no surprise; nervous, scared and anxious. We discussed how this was normal and then I explained what was happening in their body with the brain triggering stress hormones to set off the primitive “fight or flight” response. I then asked them if they would like to trick their mind and body into believing it was clam. They whole heartedly agreed.

We discussed three basic strategies:
(Click on each strategy to take you to details of the strategy.)

1- Basic Deep Mindful Breathing– Including the One Minute Meditation
2- Starfish Meditation– To support those more active and sensory based children
3- Guided Meditation, particularly Visualisation- We used The Magic Shell Meditation in full and used their “magic shells” each day of testing to hold on to their worries and concerns during the testing so the wouldn’t bother them.

During the testing week, in the morning before the tests began, I spent time on the first two days of the tests with the class, supporting them through some breathing and visualisation exercises they had learned. On day three and four, I was unable to do this because Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) decided it was time to inspect the school (In my third week at the school! This is were my own mindfulness was significantly used and is featured HERE.). However, the staff had paid close attention to my modelling and continued to use the strategies with the children the last two mornings.

The result?
I will let the children explain. (I received these letters and cards.)

Will this positively impact on their final results? I am not sure. It was only a few weeks. But, I do know that they have quickly learned a life long skill that has supported their mental health and well-being this past week and, with that success, many will continue to use the strategies as they move into secondary school.

Mindfulness, every little bit counts!