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!
The character of a monkey is playful and cheeky, and they love to move and swing from branch to branch. We teach our students about the ‘monkey mind’ at times, and we call it this because the mind is like a monkey - busy jumping from thought to thought.
A fun activity that can help to occupy and calm the monkey mind is a ‘double doodling’ exercise. The benefits of this are not only the sheer enjoyment and concentration, but this exercises both sides of the brain as it uses the non dominant hand.
How to do it
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This week we introduced Mindfulness in our blog and here is a quick reminder of why we are using this wonderful tool.
The benefit of practicing mindfulness is we can learn to pause, take a breath and get in touch with what is needed in the moment.
Children can develop these skills too, helping them to have greater acceptance, and learn to respond rather than react in life.
Here is another simple practice that we have been using in many of our classes ‘Mindfulness of Sound’. It is such a great way to articulate the skill of listening by using the sense of hearing – why not have a go with your child or students!
Mindfulness of Sound
To begin we sit with a tall spine and relaxed shoulders in a comfortable seat. We begin by showing the students the bells we will use to create the sound.
You can use any type of bell for chimes, even a sound bowl or gong, as long as the sound is easy for the children to hear and not too loud.
We explain clearly that the bells will be rung and that when the sound has completely finished and they can no longer hear it then they are to raise their right hand into the air.
You can repeat the same thing and ask them to raise their left hand in the air – and then you can even remain sitting in the quietness that remains.
It is lots of fun, students enjoy the challenge and definitely improve with practice!
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Mindfulness is cultivating the ability to have present moment awareness. In simple terms this means an openness and friendly willingness to understand what is going on around and inside of you.
Life is busy even for kids now days, and they are finding it increasingly difficult to focus and concentrate. Stress is also on the increase in our children.
The benefit of practicing mindfulness for a child is he/she can learn to pause for a moment, take a breath and get in touch with what they may need/feel in that moment.
Mindfulness helps children develop the skills to accept not all things in life are great, or go their way. They learn to respond rather than react, thereby gaining tools to help them navigate their own special inner world, and the world around them.
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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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