Week 34: Peer to Peer Chat

Reflecting. Collaborating. Growing.

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Sesame Street: Common and Colbie Caillat - "Belly Breathe" with Elmo

The Gift of Mindfulness

Bringing mindfulness in the classroom may be a necessity now more than ever. As children enter our classrooms with home life stresses, test stresses and anxiety issues, educators want to find ways to help students cope better. In addition to students needing this outlet, teachers may benefit just as much. Our lives are filled with stresses and feelings of anxiousness, too. We need more opportunities for mindfulness, as it helps us live and enjoy the present moments and what is right in front of us.

As educators, we are fully aware that our students learn best when they are comfortable, safe, and relaxed. We try to create this safe environment within our classrooms. Imagine now, in addition to giving our students the tools to be lifelong learners and showing respect to one another, we also begin giving them the tools to practice mindfulness -- using their breath and mind to lead a happy and healthy life. This practice can help students and teachers deal with stresses.

Here are some ideas to incorporate mindfulness into your own classroom and help bring calm to your students and yourself.

  1. The Breath - As you spractice mindful breathing, place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest. As you inhale for three seconds, you and your students will feel the rise of your breath. Then exhale for three seconds and feel the fall of your breath. If your students feel comfortable closing their eyes, allow them to. The video bellow is great to use, especially with younger students.
  2. Sensory Experiences - Sensory experiences can help children focus and relax. A few things you may want to try are: 1) listening to soft, calming music, 2) Create Smelling Jars using soaked cotton balls with lavender or other calming scents inside; 3) for the sense of touch, have students transfer a ball of playdough or stress ball from one hand to another for five minutes without speaking;
  3. Guided Imagery - This not only helps develops the imaginations of your students, but also is a great way to integrate learning using prior knowledge. When beginning a new topic in your classroom, have your students close their eyes and visualize as they move through what you are saying. Here's an example: If you're studying about water animals and their habitats, have your students imagine getting into underwater vehicles or their dive suits as they move through the ocean waters, looking for different types of ocean life. When ending the guided imagery, move into guided relaxation by having students take a few deep breaths, and then they can draw what they imagined and discuss their ideas as a class. Your students will love these visualization activities as they get to journey through many relaxation stories to help them calm down and re-energize.
  4. Through Movement - I know sometimes the constant movement of your little people may not always occur at the right moment, but movement is a natural part of human life. Here is where you can add a little yoga into your day. An idea for mindfulness through movement could include allowing children to mimic the environment. For example: When studying about animals, you could practice Downward-Facing Dog Pose (as a sheepdog), Cat Pose (to represent a lion), Extended Child's Pose (as a turtle)

As you begin integrating mindfulness into the class, remember the intent. This is a great idea for brain breaks and transitions during the day. It doesn't have to be long (2-5 minutes is better than nothing). So go ahead, what have you got to lose?
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AISD Teacher, Mr. Butler's Mindful Classroom