Let’s get real here. A stellar eye roll will accompany the thought of adding one more thing to our classroom plans or our home schedules. But what if a quick one minute activity could easily save you at least twice as much in time AND benefit the well-being of a child?
Attending and transitions can be time consuming for elementary kiddos (especially in the PreK/K age range). However, if we can find ways to tap their focus, we can potentially save time over the course of a day, week, and school year. I can attest to the experiences with my own young UPK-ers that the implementation of a few mindful practices each day has made a tremendous impact on their ability to attend, regain focus, and ultimately care for themselves and one another.
Mindful Minute Practices for Toddler, Preschool & Elementary-Aged Children:
Smell the Flower, Blow the Dandelion
This is all about deep breathing. We tap into the imagination and our senses with this exercise.
Script Sample: Imagine a field of yellow flowers. Reach down and pick up the perfect flower for you. Now hold it close to your nose. Breath in to smell it’s wonder; 1-2-3-4-5. Now, blow out to spread the dandelion seeds all over the field, 6-7-8-9-10. Repeat 2+ times.
The goal is that not only will this breathing activity help to regain focus in the current setting, but it is one that the child can learn to apply independently as needed.
(I also love that this secretly weaves in counting to 10 for our youngest learners!)
This experience activates a brief vacation from reality using the imagination. It is a focused activity with a phonological twist. The teacher, parent or lead student will choose a letter to guide the brief mindful minute (typically a little humorous).
Script Sample: The letter “M” is chosen. Close your eyes and picture the letter “M” symbol. Now I want you to picture a monkey. In your mind, say “monkey.” Feel the /m/ beginning sound on your lips. Now picture the monkey eating a meal of bananas. Peel the banana. Give the monkey a bite, now you take a bite. “Mmm” you both say. Along comes a monkey friend named Max. They decide to make banana milkshakes together. They blend up the bananas and the milk-can you hear the blender churning? Max reaches up and takes the top off...splat! The milk sprays all over and makes a huge mess!
You get the idea...;-) This is always “off the cuff” so as long as you have a decent imagination, you should be good to go!
Balancing Act (with Imaginative Toys)
Give each child a item. It can be anything-literally. We often use beanbags or plastic counting bears. The kiddos then use this item as a pretend favorite toy. We balance the item on different parts of the body. As we breathe in and out, we take note of the toy movements. The concentration will also help the “favorite toy” from falling to the ground.
Children can be sitting or lying down for this activity. Prompt them through body part isolations. That is, they “squish” their face in and then relax. Then they “squish” their arms in and relax. Continue to prompt from one end of the body to another. This is something that they can use as a coping tool during moments of anger or frustration, rather than acting out.
This is My Heart
This experience is about gratitude. Race/Jump/Hop/Skip/etc for 1 minute to get the heart rate up. Then freeze and feel the heartbeat. Think about what it feels like, sounds like, and what it would look like inside your body hard at work. As it is beating, circularly massage it 3x while whispering thank you for all that it gives to us in each moment (strength, love, friendship, etc).
These are just a handful of ideas that you now have the power to integrate into your classroom or home. I encourage you to pick just one to try for a week. You never know what you may discover within children, and yourself...
the blog space
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019