3 Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom

Forget lines or standing outside the principal’s office, detention has started to look a little different for a school in the US using meditation and mindfulness as an alternative to detention. You can read the full article here if you didn’t catch our recent Facebook post.

You don’t need to adopt a whole new program to reap some benefits of the mindful movement sweeping across the world. This week we give you some tips you can use for incorporating some mindful practices into the classroom. These can be used for students, for yourself before class or even at your next teacher’s meeting.

 

Mindfulness and meditation are no longer restricted to practising Buddhists or hippies out in a forest. In fact, Mindfulness is part of a growing industry worth millions. It is used in workplaces to boost productivity and morale and reduce societal stress. It is now used across all sectors in an attempt to combat rising stress levels and mental health issues.  With its mainstream adoption it is no wonder it has spilt over into the education sector, and with research proving ultimate health and wellbeing benefits, why would it not?  

But as with trends and buzzwords, we start to see it so much that we might wonder: what does Mindfulness even mean?

According to Harvard, it is “a quality of alert, open awareness. In contrast to a multitasking mind, mindfulness is a state of mind that has the ability to pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment.”  
Here are some simple activities to work towards that present moment feeling. If the idea of getting a group of students sitting cross-legged in silence seems impossible, these are good starting activities. Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean siting in meditation for a 50minute class! Without having to use the jargon, activities that allow students to focus and shift perspectives can be a good start.
Activity 1: Mindful Eating

I have done this with raisins or mandarin oranges—but some use chocolate, too. Whatever works. First, get the group to hold the item in their fingers bringing the attention to it. Start to observe it carefully, guiding the students to bring their full attention:

How does it look? (Shapes, colours, texture)

How does it feel? (Close your eyes for extra support in feeling the texture and size etc.)

Lift it up to your nose, how does it smell?

Bring awareness to sensations in the body.

How does it taste? (don’t chew immediately, but explore and notice)

Notice how your body as a whole is feeling after completing this exercise. Encourage feedback.

jyotirmoy-gupta-bpz9WOYalWk-unsplash Activity  2: Triangle Breathe

Did you know that many of us only breathe from our chest up?  Deep breathing can help calm the nervous system. Get students to sit in a comfortable sitting position, any which allows the spine to be nice and long. Start simply with practising inhaling into the belly through the nose, noticing the belly rise and chest expand. Having a hand placed on your belly can usefulful to focus. Pause. Then exhale as the belly pulls in towards the spine and the shoulders relax. Encourage students to continue in their own breathe pace. Once this feels more natural you can introduce Triangle Breathe. This is the same as before but you add a count of 4 on the inhale, hold your breathe for 4, and then exhale for 4. Repeat.

Activity 3: Body Scan

Start by bringing the awareness to the body in a game of shaking each body part, make it fun-dance around and shake it all out! Then ask the students to lie down and bring attention to their body on the floor. Ask them to close their eyes, it might take a while to get them from giggling, but start to guide them through. First, get them to take some breathes like in the previous activity but notice the difference when lying down. As they inhale ask them to notice the tensing of the body parts and on the exhale notice more relaxation. Guide them to notice their feet on the floor, the sensations of the air around and the heat/ temperature. Notice the weight, where feels heavy or light. Guide them through each part of the body until each part has made up the whole. Get them to lie here a while and then when you’re ready, you can ask them to open their eyes. You can find body scan guides online, too so that can help you guide the students.

Extra tip:  Start with your own practice before teaching mindfulness in the classroom even if it is just 5mins of silence at the start of your day or your own.

Have you implemented any mindful practices in your classroom?  Tell us about it!  Let us know if you try any of these activities out at editor@teacherhorizons.com

Written by Alexandra Plummer

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