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 )

 

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Mindfulness in the Classroom – Colour Meditation

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Have you noticed your class drifting off, especially when learning a new topic or skill that is more difficult? Their eyes glaze over, they become more fidgety, shout-out, work avoidance and more.

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. He goes on to say, “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping.

The key to mindfulness is not being in the present every moment of the day. That is not possible and not appropriate for a successful life; you do need some time to reflect in order to improve and prepare for the future. The key is being able to refocus yourself in the present at your will and not at the will of your meandering thoughts.
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.

One way to help children to remain focused in class is to use Colour Meditation.

Colour Meditation
– At the beginning of the day, get each child to choose a colour and decide to notice that colour on a given signal (This could be the ringing of a bell, code word, etc.)

– Have children take a minute to notice the objects and people wearing that colour. (I like to choose colours that I think will be more difficult to come across as it does make me really stay focused in the moment.)
– 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.

With this mindful task, you may find that the world becomes more colourful.

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 – Autumn Mindfulness

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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.

 

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom

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This week is the release of my book, 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness in the Classroom, published by Bloomsbury. On the 19th October 2017, copies will hit the letterboxes of everyone who pre-ordered and the next step of my journey in supporting Mindfulness development in schools will begin.

The idea regarding the development of Mindfulness in the Classroom was not born out of the desire to write a book. It grew out of a frustration regarding a lack of mental health support for children and staff. My own research and development of Mindfulness in myself has grown from those first small steps to this blog, www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com, promotion of mental health on Twitter ( @Ed_Tmprince ), Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ) and now the book.

The foundation of the book is to integrate Mindfulness as part of the school day, taking into account the needs of the class and aiming to develop positive mental health skills for ALL children in the class, including ADHD and autism spectrum disorders. Also, a key priority of this book (as has been with the blog) is that the strategies cost no to little money to implement and that it compliments the blog.

Initial reviews have been extremely positive.

“Full of practical activities, there is something for everyone here – even the sceptic. With clear links to different curriculum areas, mindful practice can easily be embedded using the ideas in this book. A great starters’ guide to mindfulness.” –  Aidan Severs, Member of Primary School Senior Leadership Team, @theboycanteach

“This is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to weave mindfulness into the fabric of their primary classroom and practice. Full of practical, ready-to-go ideas, and so simple to use, it’s a must-read for the mindful teacher.” –  Sam Collins, Teacher and Founder of Schoolwell, @samschoolstuff

“The ideas and suggestions in this book are easy for any teacher to use and adapt, regardless of how long they have been practicing mindfulness. We thoroughly enjoy the variety of activities and use them both in whole school and class mindfulness sessions. A wonderful resource that should be part of every classroom.” –  Ellen Glynn, Mindfulness Coordinator

You can order the book now in most countries. Here are some links:

Bloomsbury (UK)- https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/100-ideas-for-primary-teachers-mindfulness-in-the-classroom-9781472944955/

Amazon (UK)- https://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Ideas-Primary-Teachers-Mindfulness/dp/147294495X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507960609&sr=1-1&keywords=tammie+prince

Amazon (USA)- https://www.amazon.com/100-Ideas-Primary-Teachers-Mindfulness/dp/147294495X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507960662&sr=8-1&keywords=tammie+prince

Fishpond (Australia)- https://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/100-Ideas-for-Primary-Teachers-Tammie-Prince/9781472944955

Book Depository (worldwide)- https://www.bookdepository.com/100-Ideas-for-Primary-Teachers-Mindfulness-Classroom-Tammie-Prince/9781472944955

Get your book today and let me know what you think!

Inhale… Exhale… And begin!

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Mindful Assemblies

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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.

A Teacher’s Mindfulness – Mindful Daydreaming

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You may be thinking, ‘How can daydreaming be mindful?’. It doesn’t necessarily fit what we know about daydreaming.

What is daydreaming anyway? It is the state of consciousness that happens when our brain triggers a thought process that is not anchored in the immediate surroundings. It is usually pleasurable and takes us to a place that allows us to relax and be happy. On average, a daydream lasts only 14 seconds!

As children in school, we were likely told to “stop daydreaming” and it was seen as a waste of valuable school time. Along with other natural reflexes like sighing, we have tended to suppress a natural mindful strategy that helps us to relax.

We can make Mindful Daydreaming a part of our mindfulness practise by making the daydreams the object of the mindful focus.

When we are mindful of our daydreams, we are able to:

– Receive feedback on our own conscious or unconscious well- being. Our spontaneous daydreams can help us to know whether we are more positive or negative in the moment, depending on the emotions evoked by the daydream.
– Manipulate our thoughts allowing us to engage with our emotions without physical risk.
– Take a mini- holiday allowing us to explore places that bring us peace and relaxation. This may be a particular landscape, activity or alternative reality.

If we mindfully daydream, we are bringing focus, formality and purpose. Treat these daydreams as a meditation.
– Find a quiet place and sit or lie in a comfortable position where you will not be disturbed.
– You may want to set a timer to give a definite time to this meditation or you can use this as a bedtime meditation to fall into a peaceful sleep.
– Play soft meditation music and take deep, mindful breaths.
– Allow your mind to roam without any specific purpose.
– As the thoughts come through, pay attention to them but do not judge. Just note them and allow them to flow.

So, why not try it right now! Take a deep, mindful breath, close your eyes and allow yourself to take part in a daydream. Relax and let yourself drift off for a few moments. It is good for your health!

Mindfulness in the Classroom- Every Little Bit Counts

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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!