The following infographic is a quick overview of how to begin mindfulness in your classroom. You will want to keep the practices brief so that they are meaningful and reap powerful benefits. The younger the students, the shorter the time. See below for the digital applications and detailed lessons on how to begin, how to teach the practices to young minds, and a look at a Second Step lesson to see how it relates.
Mindfulness Throughout the Day Worked Best with Digital Apps
The Mindfulness applications that I explored were engaging, fun, and motivational. I found that it was beneficial to use different apps and meditation practices throughout the day. Students could predict what times of the day certain types of meditation would be used; anchor breathing for a timed session in the morning, Sesame Street app during Community Circles, bell listening after first recess, GoNoodle for a mental break after writing, Kids Calm app after lunch, and bell ringing at times throughout the day when the class needed to refocus. Teachers use bells to quiet their class and I do too, however, I found that using a musical triangle was not only a more pleasant sound but also prompted the students to start deep breathing. When the students heard the triangle, they took a moment to take a few breaths. This allowed them the transition time from their activity to listen to directions. This was just something that developed organically. Needless to say, we ALL benefited from these techniques.
You tube meditations for kids-A variety of videos that provide child friendly guided meditation videos.
African Rock Song-This is a video of older students clicking rocks in different ways to an African chant. Show the video fist and then guide the students through the activity. Relaxing, fun, and team building.
Second Step is a Social and Emotional Learning Program adopted by Napa Valley Unified School District. Students are taught about their own emotions, how to express them and how to manage them. The program then develops into empathy and problem-solving lessons.
Second Step Lesson 16: Managing Anger Lesson's Objective: Students will name feelings, discuss emotional situations, consider positive solutions. Sesame Street App will be integrated.
Story and Discussion: Students Think/ Pair/ Share (TPS) what they think is happening in the picture. Students identify the evidence in the picture that identifies the feeling and the problem. Students then think of what they would say if they were in the situation or if they were a bystander in the situation. Students then discuss similar personal experiences, how it was handled and the outcomes.
Sentence Stems may be useful for discussions;
I think that _____ because ______.
I agree with ______ because _____.
I disagree with _______ because ______.
Teacher Says: "People show anger in different ways. Some people are loud and noisy. Others are quiet. You can feel a little bit angry, or you can feel very angry. When you are very angry, you are having a strong feeling. Everybody gets angry sometimes. It's just part of life. But doing hurtful things when you are angry-like hitting, kicking, calling other people names, yelling, and pushing-is not okay. Why are hurtful behaviors not okay?"
When the boy is angry, his face feels hot, his heart beats fast, and the muscles in his arms feel tight. When I am angry, my body feel ______________."
Students act out being angry with their face and their body. Students focus their attention on their body and then discuss where they feel their anger.
Skill Practice: Teacher says, " When you are very angry, your body gets tight, or tense. This is a game to practice getting relaxed, which is the opposite of tense. You need to focus attention on your body to play this game.
Students play the Noodle Game: Teacher says, "This is called the Noodle Game. First, stand up tall and make your muscles tense-all tight and stiff like sticks of uncooked noodles. Now pretend that you're cooking. You are getting softer and softer. You're getting floppy. You get so soft that you can't stand up anymore. You lie on the bottom of the pot. Now take three belly breaths. Belly breaths help you to relax. Now you're completely soft and floppy. Your body is relaxed.
Have students work in partners, or bigger groups if there are not enough tablets, using the Sesame Street App; Think, Breath, Do. Students decide on a problem that the monster needs to resolve. They rub on his belly to help him to breathe and calm down. Students pop his thoughts that appear like bubbles on the screen. He then has three ideas that will help him to solve his problem. Encourage the students to discuss which is the best solution and why. The students choose the solution and then are given the outcome. There are several different scenarios in the app.
Wrap-Up: Teacher says, " Today we talked about how your body feels, when you're angry. Is it okay to hurt other's bodies or feelings when you're are angry? Thumb up or down to answer. When you are angry you need to ______________ (calm down) so that you do not act in a hurtful way. If you feel tense, you can make your body soft and relaxed-just like you did in the Noodle Game."
There is a series of children's books by Cheri J. Meiners, M.ED that range in Social and Emotional Learning topics. These books are a great way to begin SEL lessons and discussions about learning and problem solving. Titles include Talk and Work it Out, Listen and Learn, Understand and Care, Accept and Value Each Person, among others.
Listening and Speaking Standards for Kindergarten
Comprehension and Collaboration:
Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.focusing site
"Being a Social Detective- Every one of us is a Social Detective. We are good Social Detectives when we use our eyes, ears, and brains to figure out what others are planning to do next or are presently doing and what they mean by their words and actions. This entertaining comic book offers different ways that can be reviewed repeatedly with students to teach them how to develop their own social detective skills. Enjoy watching your students and kids blossom day-by-day into successful Social Detectives! Then, have children practice their detective skills with the interactive Social Detective App that's based on the book!"
I used this book to show visuals and teach explicitly to kindergarten students that when you are learning you are thinking about what is being taught to you. The book shows that when you are learning you are with the group, close but not touching, and that you are thinking about what is being said. We are all familiar with eyes are watching ears are listening hands are quiet feet are still but through the use of this book I developed, "My eyes are with the group, my ears are with the group, my mind is with the group. I found this to be quite effective in preparing not just the still body but also the engaged mind.
Introduction to Mindfulness From the 'How To' Page
Like all routines that are established, you have to know your class and see what works best. There is no 'one way' of doing this. I will present how I implemented the practices in my kindergarten classroom, please adapt as needed.
First, call students together to sit in a circle. Where children sit and participate in the mindfulness practice can vary. If you are going to use different practices throughout the day then you may want to consider different seating for different times or purposes. Tell them that they are going to learn how to think about their thinking. Discuss with students where they think their thoughts come from. Have them talk about dreams, their imagination, feelings, ideas...
Next, discuss the brain and its importance. Let students know some of the other things that the brain takes care of in the body; blinking, heart beats, breathing...Discuss way that they can take care of their brains; lots of sleep, eating healthy food, drinking water, limit TV and screen time.
Then let the class know that they are going to start paying attention to their brains and what their brains are doing. Let them know that they will learn how to manage their thoughts and feelings and that by doing this it will help them in many areas of their life; school, sports, friendships, behavior...
Finally, have students begin deep belly breathing. Have them put their hands on their stomachs and feel as they breathe in and out. Do this at least three times. Let them know that their breath is an anchor and describe what an anchor does. Practice this breathing each day or throughout each day. Remind students why they are doing this. Encourage students to do this when they are feeling strong feelings.
Mindfulness Lessons About Thoughts:
Puppy Dog Mind: Raise your hand if you like puppies. Do puppies sit still very often? If you put them down without a leash, what will they do? Yes, they will run away. And then what do you have to do? You have to go get them and bring them back.
Our minds are kind of like puppies. When we are trying to do mindful breathing, our mind or attention runs away like a little puppy. Then, we have to go get our mind and bring it back to our breathing. We might think about our friends or recess or things we like. But when we are doing mindful breathing, we have to catch our mind like a puppy and bring our attention back to ...point to your body and let the students answer.
Let's see how many times our mind runs away like a puppy.
Let's get our mindful bodies on and do some mindful breathing. If your mind starts thinking, you're going to notice it, and bring your attention back to...Let students answer again.
After 30 seconds to a minute, let them share their experience.
Butterfly Mind: Teacher talk, "Show me with your hands what a butterfly does. Do you think it's easy or hard to catch a butterfly? Our mind is kind of like a butterfly. It likes to fly around a lot and it's pretty fast.
When our mind wanders we can see if our mind flies away like a butterfly. This is what it might look like.
I will have my mindful body on with my eyes closed, paying attention to my breath. I will try to pay attention to every breath. But, if my mind wanders away and thinks about something. I will catch it like this.
Slowly bring your hands together like you are catching a butterfly. Then gently put your hand on your belly.
Then I will breathe again until my mind flies away. I will gently catch it, and then what? Yes, I will breathe again.
The Stream Mind: Teacher Talk, " As you pay attention to your breathing today, notice if thoughts happen. Imagine that your thoughts are just floating down a stream. You can watch them pass by and continue focusing on your breathing. Sometimes we accidentally grab a thought. Notice if this happens.
Students deep breathe for a timed session. One to two minutes is fine.
After the silent breathing, ask students to, "Raise your hand if you were able to let all of your thoughts float down the stream. Raise your hand if you grabbed some thoughts. Did you grab happy thoughts? Sad thoughts? Why did you pick those thoughts?
We have to think sometimes, so we have to grab some thoughts. How can mindfulness help us choose which thoughts to grab?