Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is becoming more and more popular these days.  Whenever someone starts talking about it, and I share with them some tools I am already using, they are always surprised.

Like anything, I don't stick strictly to one tool or philosophy to teach my students skills.  I often use mindfulness in conjunction with self-regulation skills, or coping skills for anxiety.  I have to say, more than often, my kids love these tools.  The #1 tool is probably the mindfulness bell.

So what is mindfulness?  It's a state of being active, open and attentive to the present

In kid terms?  It's a way of paying attention to what is happening right now in our mind and bodies

So how do I use it?

First off, I don't think, personally, it's one of those programs you can use 'on the fly'.  You really have to prep and practice.  I find that this book:


A Still Quiet Place by Amy Saltzman, and Kids Relaxation (a blog) are my most used and valuable tools.

When I introduce this concept to kids, I find it's one you have to practice to understand.  For my older students, I show them this video:


And then we practice.  Working on one of the suggestions from the book, we start with this simple activity:

  • I ask all students to close their eyes for one minute
  • After the minute, they write down all of the sounds they heard
  • We share them
  • We repeat that (listening, writing) for another minute
  • We talk about how mindfulness is like a muscle in our body, it takes practice, and the more we practice, the better we get
  • We talk about how we felt during the activity.  Almost all students immediately feel calmer

There are SO MANY great mindfulness activities out there.

1.  Probably the most loved by my kids is the glitter jar.  To keep it kid-friendly, I use plastic water bottles (those chubby little round sports ones are the best!)

2.  Any sort of body calming activities are great for incorporating into these groups.  The plumtree website has my favorites.  I have used Spaghetti Body with whole classes!

3.  The mindfulness bell.  Sometimes teachers don't believe me when I tell them how calm glitter jars and the mindfulness bell can make those kiddos who can't stop moving.  This is just one example of a bell.  I use an app on my phone/ipad and kids love it.

I would encourage anyone to do some research and try some mindfulness with one of your students!

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