Additional Mindfulness Activities
Students (one at a time) take a stuffed animal, lie down, put the stuffed animal on their belly and practice breathing while listening to the Belly Breathe Song. This activity would be great as an opening exercise in the morning circle time routine or after recess or PE. You can hear Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Drive of Excellence, describe the Breathing Buddies activity in this YouTube video.
Sitting Still Like a Frog
In her delightful book, Sitting Still Like a Frog, author Eline Snel (2013) teaches simple mindfulness practices to help children ages 5 through 12 deal with anxiety and handle difficult emotions. An activity she introduces is about learning to have the attention of a frog. After setting up a quiet place for learners, she suggests the adult should describe the stillness of the frog. Take a look at Becca Wertheim’s blog post about the activity.
As children practice being attentive like a frog, they learn concentration skills, impulse control, and some degree of control over their inner world. Doing the frog activity on a regular basis teaches children how they can be anchored in the here and now. Snel’s book is written for teachers and parents and comes with an audio CD to help with practice and guided instruction. As with all the mindfulness activities, learning to sit still like a frog is simple but not effortless. This and other mindfulness habits get better with practice. It is important for both adults and children to practice their new skills outside the classroom as well as during the school day.
Lily Pad Area
We love the idea of setting up a lily pad area in the early education classroom so that students can practice sitting still like a frog when needed. This could be an area with mats (preferably green, of course), bean bags, chairs, or simply a small table. Have reminders on the wall about the concepts of sitting still like a frog from Snel’s book. We have created the “Be Still Like a Frog” poem teachers can print and use in the classroom. Find the printable pdf here.
The Worry Monster
Some of our students come to school with worries and pressures burdening them down. These can be a significant obstacle to learning and practicing mindfulness. To help kids let go of worries, teachers can fashion a “Worry Monster” out of a small trash basket with a swinging lid (available at most discount stores).
The Worry Monster can be decorated with a monster face and a poem
"The Worry Monster is here to ease your mind
Write your worry down,
Let him eat your stress and ….leave it all behind!"
Encourage students to write their worries on a piece of paper and drop them in the Worry Monster.
The Mindfulness Jar
This activity works for younger and older students alike. It provides a way of teaching them about self-regulating their emotions and allowing thoughts or reactive tendencies to settle – just as the glitter settles. Just as the glitter takes time to settle in the jar, so too the mind is allowed to settle when we pause and learn how to respond to a situation more skillfully, rather than impulsively reacting.
Steps for Making a Mindfulness Jar
Directions for the Activity
Ask the students to swirl the mixture in the jar and pay attention to what happens to the glitter. Ask them if they ever feel things around them are swirling out of control. Suggest to students that they may want to keep their personal Mindfulness Jar in a place they can easily access it when they are feeling stressed. You can see photographs of this activity in an actual classroom on the Children’s Garden School “MindUp Gets Thumbs Up” blog post.
Mindful Mediation with Food
a small piece of food (a raisin, a chocolate chip, a mini marshmallow, a piece of cereal, etc.)
Directions for the Activity
Practice holding, seeing, touching, swallowing, and following the small piece of food for 5 minutes a day in a guided meditation. Student's mindfulness will increase the more they practice this activity. For a detailed description, see the Raisin Meditation on the Greater Good in Action website.