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- Yoga

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For some people, Yoga and Mindfulness are synonymous. However, one can practise mindfulness without doing Yoga. But, Yoga can add a different dimension to your mindfulness practice.

UK expert in social and emotional learning, Professor Katherine Weare (key contributor to the UK schools SEAL programme), stated in The Mindfulness In Schools Project paper in association with the University of Exeter, “Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People”, that:

“Well conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part.”                     “Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused, think in more innovative ways, use existing knowledge more effectively, improve working memory, and enhance planning, problem solving, and reasoning skills.”

Yoga helps children to slow down, chill out, relax their minds and exercise their bodies. It also lowers their heart rate, and creates self-discipline and control. In Yoga, they practise self-regulation of breathing that is a natural relaxation response in humans.

You don’t have to be a Yoga master to include Yoga into the day. All you need to know is the basic Yoga poses which can easily be found free on Youtube. But, other good resources are:

  • Yoga Pretzel cards– These can be bought online. Just do an online search and find the best deal. This includes cards that show breathing techniques, games, Yoga poses and relaxation techniques.

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The cards show the pose/technique/game on one side and an explanation of how to do it on the other side.YP2

How can you integrate Yoga into the school day?

  1. Start each day doing the Sun Salutation in class.
  2. Use Yoga as part of your warm up or cool down sessions in PE.
  3. Teach one Yoga pose a week and use it as part of your transition routine (When they come to the carpet for a lesson or a story, they have to do the pose of the week.).
  4. Have a special signal, possibly the mindful bell, which is used when the children get a bit squirmy. When that signal is given, they stand up, breathe deeply, do the Yoga pose for a set amount of time and then they sit, breathe deeply and get back to work.
  5. Play Yoga games- Once the children learn a few, encourage them to do them outside during break time/recess.
    1. “Yogi Says”- Similar to “Simon Says”
    2. Body Part Yoga- Choose a leader and they give the rest of the group two body parts they can use and only those two body parts can touch the ground. (Example: One knee, one hand)

Remember, the best things are usually the simplest things! Have your children create their own Yoga routines, poses and games.

You just must remember that the key is on concentrating on the breathing and the task at hand. Focus is the key to supporting the use of Yoga in mindfulness.

How do you use Yoga in the classroom?