This is a mindfulness activity that I have generally practiced with preteens.
Recently I decided to try it on my younger yogis in a mixed age class of 5-10 years. I was surprised to see how much they loved it and were sitting so quietly and patiently waiting for their turn.
The purpose of activity is too slow down mentally and physically bringing awareness to having a slower approach to life.
Materials required – a miniature turtle/metal/clay or ceramic – small pouch of bag to place it in.
How to facilitate it – Get everyone seated in a circle and explain that the focus of this circle time is to ‘slow down’. When we begin to slow things we begin to become more aware of the little things in life that we may have not noticed when we are rushing around and not paying attention.
Begin to pass the pouch with the turtle inside around the circle. Ask the students to remain silent for this part of the activity as each one holds the pouch. Give them a few moments to feel and guess what is inside the pouch but ask them not to share what they think it is until the whole group has had a go.
Now invite them to share what they thought it could be – then reveal the turtle and place it in the centre. This is the perfect time to talk about how we feel when we are rushing compared to when we take our time to do things slowly in a more calm and relaxed manner.
This type of reflection can be wonderful to invite into our lives at the end of a busy year when children in particular start to get tired.
After all, slow and steady wins the race!
Living in the northern hemisphere gets me a little more festive I have to say. It must be the combination of the night’s drawing in early afternoon and all the fantastic TV Christmas ads we get here! On the theme of stars I thought it would be nice to create your own personal yoga Xmas tree cards this year with your students or family. Why not add a fabulous star on top and decide who are the stars in your life and gift them to friends, grandparents or whoever you would like to. There is after all nothing quite like a handmade card filled with love ☺.
What you need:
Simply fold your piece of paper in half to make your card. See if you can remember what you look like when you are doing the tree pose or ask a friend or parent to do the pose to remind you. Sketch yourself doing the pose and think of what yoga clothes you might like to wear. Imagine holding a big star in your hands and putting your chosen ‘Rockstar’s’ name inside. Imagine how surprised your special star will be to receive a ‘personalized yoga xmas card’.
Have fun creating and making - remembering to fill it up with LOVE!
Listening is an art form which does not come naturally to most of us if we are honest and is something we have to continuously practice. This next activity has turned out to be one of my student’s favourite games here in Australia and apparently has also been gaining increasing popularity around the globe. It is adapted from a traditional Indian game called ‘Watch the Cat’ taken from ‘Yoga Education’ a book from Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of Yoga. I have made this into a story telling game where the teacher creates the short story whilst the children are lying like sleeping cats relaxing on their sides.
How to facilitate
Explain to the students they are listening to the adventure of a cat who has a best friend who is a mouse. Each time they hear the word ‘Mouse’ they have to spring onto their hands and knees and ‘meow’ like a cat! Afterwards they immediately return to being sleeping cats again and have to carry on listening mindfully as the story continues.
Here is the story of cat and mouse to share with your children at home or students in class
‘My name is Zapper the cat and I’m a ginger tomboy, well actually I am a little bit brown as well if I am honest. Today is my best friend’s birthday party, he is turning 4 years old and I am super excited. By the way did I tell you he’s a cockroach no don’t be silly he’s a mouse! (everyone springs onto all fours and meows like a cat and you say – great listening guys now go back to sleep.
At the moment I am trying to think of what to buy him for his birthday this year. Well I was thinking of a back pack as he loves to go on day trips or even perhaps a sketchbook as he is such a fantastic artist and loves to draw. Umm it is tricky but then I spotted a really fun hat that is perfect for his day’s out…..umm which one to buy…maybe the parrot….or the giraffe was super fun with the long neck but then I decided on the mouse! (great listening everyone back to sleeping cats again)
The next thing I have to decide on is what snack to take to the party as it’s bring a plate. First I thought maybe some crackers, then I saw some chocolate ants, but what about fried grasshoppers, so many choices…then I found the perfect thing to take lumps of cheese in the shape of a mouse…(you guys have been such fantastic listeners today, great job everyone and now we are going to lay down for relaxation)
This game cultivates listening and teaches children how it feels to relax and then be vigilant as they spring to action. It can offer a great transition into relaxation and even better continue the relaxation further by adding colour to a picture of Zapper and Mouse by downloading your free colouring sheet here. Colouring in increases self-expression, colour recognition, focus, calm and builds fine motor skills.
The storytelling and free download of our accompanying colouring page of 'Zapper the Cat and Mouse' is here.
And more FREE DOWNLOADS of Creative Yogis kids yoga colouring pages are here.
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Karen Wightman is the founder of Creative Yogis. She is an experienced, local and international children’s yoga instructor, yoga teacher trainer, and children’s art teacher.
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