Archives for May 2015

Creating a Rest Nest

Creating a Rest Nest

Teachers: A rest nest is a safe space that you create in the classroom for students to unwind in. The rest nest is designated only for taking time to oneself, and should be comfortable and inviting. Spaces like a rest nest can serve as an important sanctuary to students who are having a bad day or feeling overwhelmed. Students could also use the rest nest during free time if they would like to practice mindfulness activities learned in class.

4612522613_352b904abd_bMaterials Needed: A rest nest should be cozy and comforting to the student when resting in it. The space can be created with a soft rug and various pillows for the children to sit on. Consider adding lighting to the space to improve the ambiance, and give it even more of a warm feel. If you do not have a rug to lay out, perhaps consider using a blanket-or just work with what you have. Consider leaving a CD player with soothing music and headphones for the student to put on in the nest.

Students: A rest nest can serve as a very important space for you. It gives you a space where you can close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax knowing that you are safe. You may think about making a rest nest for yourself at home. Ask your parents before making your rest nest to make sure it is okay. Also let them know that when you are in your nest, it is because you need to take a personal time-out. You can also use the rest nest to practice mindfulness activities that you learn at school.

Materials Needed: If you have an extra pillow or blanket to fold up, you can put this in the rest nest to sit on. A blanket or rug on the floor might be nice if the floors at home are not carpet. Think about things in your room that make you really calm. You can bring these into your rest nest with you, or even make your rest nest their new home. If you have an iPod or CD player, you can play calming music while you rest too. Just make sure to keep the volume low. You can visit your rest nest whenever you are feeling upset, overwhelmed or sad to take time for yourself and rest. This is your safe space.

Walking Nature Meditation

Today we’re going to practice a mindfulness activity that allows us to walk around and take in our surroundings with more awareness than usual. This is an activity to practice outside, preferably in a garden or park. Walking meditations are a wonderful way to notice your surroundings with m
ore intensity- like we’re tuning our perception up to high definition. This practice can allow us to see the world around us from a different point of view.

5950321085_f2a85ab7da_o-1Our walking mediation today will be like a scavenger hunt. We will spend a few
minutes walking around, noticing the things we are asked to focus on. At the end of each search, we will write down or draw the things we saw or heard before bringing our attention to another scavenger item.

First, we will bring our attention to the colors in the park or garden. Close your eyes and imagine all of the colors you might see here. After you do this, slowly open your eyes and begin to walk around, noticing as many colors around you as you can. They don’t have to be the types of colors that you imagined with your eyes closed, or even the type of things that you imagined would be those colors. You might be surprised to notice all of the different colors that are around you.

Pause after 2 minutes and engage students in a reflection activity. As mentioned before, this can involve drawing, writing, or anything else you think would ground the activity.

Next, we will bring our attention to the animals and insects in the park or garden. Close your eyes and imagine all of the different kinds of animals and insects you might find. After you do this, slowly open your eyes and begin to walk around, noticing as many animals and insects as you can. They don’t have to be the kinds that you imagined with your eyes closed, just notice what you can see now. You might be surprised to notice all of the different animals and insects there are around you.

Pause after 2 minutes and engage students in a reflection activity. As mentioned before, this can involve drawing, writing, or anything else you think would ground the activity.

Lastly, we will bring to our attention to all of the sounds in the park or garden. Close your eyes and imagine all of the sounds that you might hear. After you do this, slowly open your eyes and begin to walk around, noticing all of the sounds that you can hear. They don’t have to be the type of sounds that you imagined with your eyes closed, or even the type of things that you imagined would make those sounds. You might be surprised to notice all of the different sounds that there are around you.

Pause after 2 minutes and engage students in a reflection activity. As mentioned before, this can involve drawing, writing, or anything else you think would ground the activity.

Teachers: Once the sound activity is complete, you can check in with the students to see how they felt about this mindfulness activity. See if they noticed that they saw or heard more or less than they expected, or if they noticed some things that they’d never realized before.

Students: Did you like practicing this mindfulness activity? Walking meditations are a great way to explore and learn a lot about your environment. Perhaps you can practice this on your own with a different theme. If there isn’t a park or garden near you, maybe a parent or sibling will help you practice this while walking around the neighborhood.

Field trip idea: Academy of Sciences- Walking butterfly meditation with learning activity at the end!

How To: Mindfulness Blog

How To: Mindfulness Blog

Welcome Teachers!

Here’s what you need to know when using this blog:

  • New posts are updated every week or so, with content for you to use in your classroom and beyond.
  • You can choose to read through the posts word for word, like a script, or explain them in a way that you think best conveys the lesson to your students. They are developmentally tailored, but can certainly be modified further for specific age groups.
  • Practices will be best understood if you begin from the earliest post: Balloon Breathing, and work your way through to the most current. Feel free to pick and choose as you see fit, just keep in mind that there may be references to past posts that pop up.
  • Keep an eye out for series, or grouped practices, that build off of each other and are meant to be followed in sequential order.
  • At the end of each post are a teacher tip and a student tip. The tips give you a sense of what the lesson is targeting (i.e. cultivating a sense of calm or compassion), and can help you choose your mindfulness activity for the day.
  • We highly recommend practicing each exercise on your own to experience it first-hand before teaching to others. See our post Mindful Teachers: Three Key Tips

Our goal is to provide you with tools that can be applied in the classroom in order to cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness for both you and your students. If you have additional questions, let us know how we can help through our Contact Us page.

Sincerely,

Mindfulness @ ELSPAP

Belly Breathing Exercise

Belly Breathing Exercise

Today’s practice is belly breathing. In this breathing exercise, we will learn to follow or breath as it goes in and out of our body.

We will begin our practice by finding a comfortable seat in our chair or on the floor. Check to see that your feet are rooting into the ground if in a chair, or that you feel like your seat is rooting down if you’re on the floor. Start with your hands face down on your legs, letting the arms relax. Close the eyes if this feels safe, and reach the top of your head toward the sky to make your back long and tall. On your next breath in, roll your shoulders up to your ears and breathe out as they roll down your back.

When you’re ready, bring one hand onto your belly and the other hand onto your chest. It doesn’t matter which hand goes to either place, whichever one you prefer is the right way for you.

Once your hands are on your belly and chest, begin notice your breath. See if you can feel your belly pressing into your hand when you take a breath in, and feel your belly move away from your hand as you breathe out. On the out breath, see if you can follow your out breath out of your belly and up through your chest.

Now we will begin to take deeper breaths in and out, taking more time to follow the path of our breath. As you slowly breathe in, follow your breath all the way down, through your nose, throat and chest, and into your belly. Feel your belly expand really big into your hand. Imagine your belly growing as big as your arms did when we practiced balloon breathing. At the end of this big breath in, feel your belly and hand pull back in toward your body. Notice your breath traveling up your belly, up through your chest and throat, and leaving through your nose.

Continue this breathing on your own now: filling up your belly on the in breath, emptying your belly on the out breath. The path of our breath starts in the nose, and goes down to the belly as we breathe in- and up through the belly, out of the nose as we breathe out. See if you can keep following your breath as it moves along this path through your body. It is okay if you get distracted. Just notice when you do, and see if you can find your breath again.

Teachers: Let students continue this breath on their own for 30 more seconds

At the end of your next out breath, follow the air all the way out through your nose. You can begin to breathe normally again, and slowly, slowly bring your hands back to your legs- keeping the eyes closed for just a little longer.

On your next in breath, roll your shoulders up to your ears. On your out breath, let them roll down your back like a waterfall. When you are ready, you can gently open your eyes, coming back into the room.

Students: Practice this breathing whenever you would like to feel calm and in charge of your feelings- or whenever you want to take a time out from a situation.

Teachers: This is a wonderful, calming practice for students. It brings them into their breath and back into the present moment.

Senses Ladder Activity

Today we’re going to practice a mindfulness activity that uses all of our senses. Your job is to see what you can notice with your senses as you are instructed by your teacher to move from one to another. Try to be patient and share only when asked to by your teacher.

We will begin by finding a comfortable seat, with the tippy top of your head reaching upHaikuLadder to the ceiling. Once your spine is long and tall, place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up to the sky.

We will start with our eyes open. Let your eyes wander around the room, keeping your head as it is. In your mind, think of five things that you see in the room around you, without turning your head or moving your body. Keep these thoughts inside your head until your teacher asks you to share.

Teachers: may ask a handful of kids to recall one thing they saw in the room

Next, we will close the eyes. Now it is time for the other four senses that don’t use our eyes. Begin to bring your attention to your ears. Notice any sounds inside or outside of the room. If you can, try to name four sounds that you hear.

Teachers: may ask a handful of kids to recall one thing they heard in the room

The third sense we will pay attention to is touch. Notice the placement of your hands on your knees. Do your hands feel heavy or light? What does the material of your pants (or legs if you’re wearing shorts) feel like on your hands? Can you think of three things that your body can feel?

Teachers: may ask a handful of kids to recall one thing they felt

After touch, we will move on to smell. Are there any smells that you notice in the room right now? Try to come up with two smells that are in the room. If you can’t think of two, pick one real smell and one smell you wish was in the room.

Teachers: may ask a handful of kids to recall one smell they experienced

The last sense is taste. This one is tricky because you may not have eaten anything recently. For our exercise with taste, try to think of the last thing you tasted today. See if you can think of it so well, that you can almost taste it here in class.

Teachers: may ask a handful of kids to recall one taste they experienced

Students: This is a great practice to use when you want to notice the way that your body is connecting to the world around you.

Teachers: This is a great way to get kids into the body, and begin to turn their focus internally. You can ask students to write down the things they experienced with their senses, or make it a drawing activity.