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Easy Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness Into the Classroom

As I’m sure you’re incredibly aware, mindfulness is very hip right now. It feels a bit like we’re all being hit over the head with it; everywhere I turn there’s another article about it, another book for it, etc. That said, mindfulness is pretty amazing and is particularly important to me because of its research backing. Bonus: Now that it’s trendy, some of my teachers are into it!

easy ways incorporating mindfulness into the classroom

 

I had a classroom with quite a few anxious or otherwise dysregulated students and when the teacher reached out to me, I thought mindfulness would be a great help. After I compiled what I thought were the most appropriate resources, I offered them up to any of my teachers who wanted to start incorporating more mindfulness into their classrooms. Everything was compiled into a long document that I emailed and gave them a hard copy of. Here’s some of what I provided them:

      Some students will somewhat immediately “buy in” to these ideas/practices. Others will be very resistant because they really struggle to calm their brains and bodies. Others will want to be silly during them. I encourage you, especially at the beginning, to reward students (points, tickets, whatever) who take it seriously.

      If you do nothing else, teaching, modeling, and practicing deep breathing is the best thing to do. Before morning meeting, after morning meeting, coming back from lunch/recess/RA. The first several times, I would encourage them to breathe with you, using your hands/arms as a visual for your lungs and the breaths. Once they have the mechanics down, you can start to work on the mindful aspects of
it (visualizing their bodies as they breathe, returning their mind back to the breathing and away from whatever it wandered to, etc.)

o In through your nose

o Out through your mouth

o Slow – at least 4 counts for each step (breathe in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, breathe out 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, repeat)

o Students lie on their backs with small objects on their stomachs (dominos, erasers, etc.). Guide them through mindful breathing while they focus on watching the object rise and fall on their
stomachs.

        Mindful Moments Mini-Activities: (I gave them a set of mindful activities task cards) A few ways
you can use these:

o Whenever you need to calm the kiddos whole group.

o Individual students can be asked to go use one (I put them on key rings but you can take them off and put them in a basket)

o Put one on each desk/seat. Students rotate around the room and try each one. I numbered the cards and am including a little sheet that they can complete to indicate which ones they liked the most/thought were helpful (both for self-awareness and for you to know which to
do again)

 

mindful moments activitiesmindful moments activitiesmindful moments activities

      MindYeti
This is a free website with some audio tracks (3 to 5 minutes long) that guide students through some mindfulness practices. It requires a login so I went ahead and made you an account:

o I recommend:

      • The “Welcome!” video – this introduces the idea that sometimes our brains get full
        of “the Hubbub” and then we don’t work and feel as well, but that there’s things we can do to “settle the Hubbub”. This helps students understand the reason behind mindfulness exercises and can provide language for you to use.
      • “Hello, Breath”
      • “Slow Breathing 1”
      • “Hello, Body”

 

          You can do a series of Morning Meeting activities about being mindful with each of the senses:

o Taste:
Give each student a piece of chocolate, have them eat it but SLOWLY (give them a minimum time) while thinking about how it tastes and feels. After, have them brainstorm as many words as possible to describe the experience.

o Sound:
1) Have students close their eyes and ring the chime. Have students raise their hands when they can no longer hear it. 2) Have students sit silently for two minutes with your classroom door open. Discuss all the different sounds they heard OR 1) Have students close their eyes while you make a few different sounds, one at a time (tap a pencil, crumple paper, shake coins, shuffle cards, cut paper, etc.). After teach, ask students to open their eyes and write down what they thought it was. 2) Reveal what each of the sounds was. 3) Repeat this activity over a few days with different sounds to see if they are able to improve their mindful listening OR Have students close their eyes and tap one to open their eyes and read a sentence you give them. Everyone opens their eyes and then guesses who the speaker was. They have to be mindful in regards to the voice itself but also where in the room it was coming from.

o Seeing:
With the kiddos in a circle on the floor, put 10-15 objects in the center. Give students 60 seconds (of silence) to look at the objects. Then cover them with a sheet/blanket/whatever. Have the class try to recall everything that was there.
Also, the YouTube clip “Test Your Awareness: Do the Test” (1 minute) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4 Video says to count the passes between the basketball players. While students are focused on this, they usually miss the person dressed as a bear moonwalking. Also good for talking about distractions. Or project ISpy pages and have them spy.

       Mindful Morning Meeting Shares (can be done whole group or can be something they share with a partner):

o Describe in detail a calm scene, such as a lake or the ocean.

o Share a happy memory about your family that makes you smile.

o Name two kind thoughts you can say about yourself.

o Share a favorite memory. Where were you, who were you with, how did you feel?

o Describe in detail something in the room that makes you smile.

o Describe your dream vacation. Who would be with you? What would you do for relaxation?

o Name one thing that you are curious about right now. What makes you interested?

 

       Videos

        GoNoodle videos:

o“Empower Tools” Channel

Live in the Moment (simple stretching and breathing, bringing your attention to the sensations in your body)

Relieve Anxiety (breathing and simple movements to help yourself feel calm and safe)

o “Flow” Channel

Switch
(an active visualization of changing your choices and behaviors to get yourself
back on the right track)

Begin Again (some guided breathing and imagery about erasing and starting over when you’re having a bad day)

Swirling
(settling upset thoughts and feelings through breathing)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiaUV-OiBGE (2.5
minute guided breathing relaxation video – “Breathing Relaxes Kids, Decrease
Stress Bedtime Story | Stress Free Kids”)

 

mindful monkey, happy panda

       I have a great and super short and simple book called Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda. It explains “mind full” (thinking about anything but the present moment and task) vs. “mindful” (thinking about the present). It can also give great language for you to use. Let me know if you want to borrow it! Neither the school nor public library has it yet. 

I recently created a bunch of “just press play” mindfulness videos for teachers and counselors to use during the school closures and distance learning.

As I touched on in my review of Teach, Breathe, Learn, the best way to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom is for faculty to start a personal practice first. That said, doing these activities with your students (instead of just leading them in them) is a great way to do so!

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easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom

 

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Hello, I’m Sara!

With 10 years of experience in
elementary school counseling,
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