In addition to deep breathing and tuning into emotional reactions in the body discussed in the preschool and infant and toddler lists, here are a few more advanced activity ideas that would be appropriate for school age children.
Mindful walking – this slow, quiet form of walking is designed to help us reconnect with the Earth, and the sensation of our feet making contact with the ground as we take steps. This activity allows children to take a break from the rushing and shuffling that is becoming more evident in their lives. Please note – children may be more open to learning this practice when they are somewhat satisfied. In other words, don’t try to introduce this practice to children when they are hungry!
To introduce this mindful walking, demonstrate for children how to slowly take a step forward and say, Breathing in. Then, step slowly with the other foot and say, Breathing out. Encourage children to match their stepping with their breathing. You can also use other sayings, such as:
- Left foot, slowly / Right foot, slowly
- I notice the ground under my foot / I am present in this moment
- I walk slowly / There is no need to hurry
You could ask children to make up the saying they will say during their walking. Practice mindful walking for 1-2 minutes each day. Once the children become more skilled, this might be a good mindful activity to use during transitions in the program. For example, use mindful walking as children enter the classroom to hang up their coats and backpacks or when returning to the classroom from the playground.
Mindful eating – this is an interesting practice that can help children reconnect to the foods they consume. How often do we notice children, or ourselves, consuming foods or snacks mindlessly? We open a bag of chips and within minutes the chips are gone and we don’t realize how it happened.
Mindful eating is an opportunity to focus our attention on the tastes and textures of the foods we eat. It provides a chance to slow down, pay attention to the process of consuming, and reconnect to what nourishes our bodies.
To introduce mindful eating, encourage the children pick an item from their plate and take a slow bite. Ask children to place their utensils back on the plate and to sit quietly as they chew the food. (How often do we prepare the next bite of food on our forks before we have finished chewing the bite that is in our mouths?) Encourage children to think about how the food feels as they bite into it. What flavors do they notice first? Does the flavor change as they chew? Is the food dry or crunchy, flakey or soft? How does the texture change as they chew the food?
It is even possible to have children think about where the food item came from as they consume it. For example, as they are slowly chewing on a carrot stick, they can think about the fact that the carrot came from farm, that a farmer harvested the carrot from the earth, and sent it to be packaged and sold to the program. The cook then prepared the carrot by washing it, pealing it, and cutting it into sticks. Encourage children to be thankful for the people who contributed to the food arriving on their plates. Depending on the level of understanding of the children in your group, They may even be able to reflect on how the carrot is nourishing their bodies as they eat it.
Once the food is fully chewed up (which aids in proper digestion), prompt the children to pick a different food item and walk through the entire process with that food item. Ask children to compare this bite to the previous bite.
Depending on the interest of the children, you can continue with another bite or end the practice here. You could continue this practice for the first few bites of each meal or snack.
For the Main Article on Mindful Classrooms, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom Preschool Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.
For Mindful Classroom Director’s Corner Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.