There are two essential components to prepare yourself to use mindfulness activities in the classroom: posture and breathing. Let’s take a look at them.
Posture: The Mindful Body
In order to practice mindfulness, students need to first prepare their bodies. This means they need to position themselves so they’re comfortable and ready to fully engage in mindfulness. Now, posture doesn’t have to be a very involved and complicated process. It’s actually rather simple. I’ve listed below some options for students to position themselves in order to practice mindfulness.
1) Students can in a chair with feet flat on the floor, hands placed gently and comfortably on the lap, sit up straight, with eyes closed or closed slightly and focused on the floor. (Some people may not feel comfortable completely closing their eyes so focusing on the floor is a good alternative).
2) Students can also sit on the floor in a cross-legged fashion. Again hands are placed gently and comfortably in the lap. Back is straight and eyes are closed or closed slightly and focused on the floor.
3) Students can also on a bean bag chair.Hands are placed gently and comfortably in the lap. Eyes are closed or closed slightly and focused on the floor. They will need to sit in a way so that they are comfortable.
I refer to these positions as “Mindful body”.
Now that the students are positioned comfortably, we need to address the next component for mindfulness…breathing. In our everyday lives, we tend to use shallow breathing. This basically means that we don’t fill up our lungs enough and expel out the air enough for it to be effective to center a person. So in order to center ourselves, we need to consciously change the way we breathe.
Breathe in deeply and breathe our completely.
Since children are very visual. I used a Hoberman Sphere to represent a lung in order to explain inhalation and exhalation in a visual way (check out my previous blog post here on my method of using a Hoberman Sphere for breathing). There are various ways that the Hoberman Sphere can be used to change the rate of inhalation/exhalation, holding the breath etc. This is such a great tool (and a very simple one at that) to help children regulate their breathing. Be mindful of how many breaths are needed to calm and center children. Three to five breaths should typically be sufficient.
When I think of mindfulness, I think about how it affects our body, mind, and soul. It isn’t just a simple thought. It’s holistic. It takes into consideration everything about that person. So with that in mind, I created and discussed activities that incorporate our five senses.
A Listening Activity
Listening is such a difficult task for most young children (and most adults too!).
Here is a simple exercise that I’ve used with kindergarten to fourth grade students to work on their sense of listening. It uses a resonating (echoing) sound. I used an app (because there’s an app for practically everything!) for this exercise. This app has a variety of different Tibetan singing bowls and each one has a different sound. Here is the activity:
- Everyone positions themselves into their Mindful Body. Students should close their eyes or look down.
- The following instructions are given: Raise your hand when you no longer hear a sound.
- I play the singing bowl using an app and wait for everyone to raise their hand.
- I ask students to open their eyes once everyone has finished raising their hands..
See quite a simple exercise. The idea behind this activity is to help children focus on one sound and over time improve their listening sense.
My Next Post
In my next blog post, I will discuss some simple mindfulness activities that utilize the other senses that can be incorporated into the preschool classroom.