The idea of mindfulness can be a difficult one to wrap your head around, and even harder to teach. Younger students especially may have a hard time understanding how to bring awareness to themselves and their surroundings, and an even harder time focusing on doing so.
One helpful way to help students focus on their own breath is to use a prop. Ask them to bring their favorite stuffed animal to school. Either laying on the floor or sitting at their desks, have students hug their stuffed buddy to their chest. As they breathe in and out slowly, they should pay attention to their animal rising up and down. This is especially helpful for little kids who aren’t quite sure how to regulate their breathing and breath slowly.
You can also use sound to teach mindfulness. Using a chime, or a triangle instrument, ask students to sit quietly and listen to the chime until they can’t hear it anymore. Then ask them to listen to the sounds coming from inside and outside the classroom. If you don’t have a chiming instrument, try the amaZEN U “Mindfulness of Sounds 1” video, which guides students through the entire listening exercise.
One of the best ways to teach mindfulness to younger kids is with a mindfulness, or “calm down” jar. Leave one on your desk or in another easily accessible location where students can reach it, or better yet, make jars together as a class for each student Beware, it does involve glitter! You can find simple directions here:
Make Your Own Mind Jar
After you’ve made your mindfulness jars, use the “Mind in a Jar” video from amaZEN U to walk you through an age-appropriate meditation with the jars.
It’s best to first introduce these activities when your class is already calm and receptive. Once your students understand the expectations of how to behave during a mindfulness practice, you can try them during periods of greater activity (as a way to bring the kids back to focus).
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