Incorporate a Mindful Moment or breathing pause into each day.
Choose a time – perhaps at the beginning of the day or after a break.
Incorporate it into EACH day so that it becomes part of the routine of the day.
“Uplifting and nourishing”
Tips for Teachers
Stretch and Smile
Invite the children to stand tall. Raise the right arm above the head and s-t-r-e-t-c-h...
Raise the left arm above the head and
You might invite them to hold that stretch...
Then invite them to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the right corner of the mouth up towards the right ear
And s-t-r-e-t-c-h the left corner of the mouth up towards the left ear
Then invite them to hold the stretch….
Breathe for Art
Prior to doing art invite the children to close their eyes and take five slow deep breaths... At the end of this breathing pause invite them to quietly imagine what they might draw, the colours, the shapes and the texture. As they conclude the art session take another breathing pause of five slow deep breaths.
Busy Mind, Calm Mind
Use a jam jar and some bread soda to demonstrate the busyness of the mind and how it can become calm. At least 15 minutes before the demonstration, fill the jar with water. Place 3-4 dessert spoons of bread soda into the jar and allow it to settle completely. Explain how the mind can be clear and calm – like the clear water in the jar. By stirring the contents of the jar suggest that when the mind is busy it is like the water in the jar that becomes foggy. Invite the children to become aware of their breath – the in-breath and the out-breath. Lead them through about three breaths – ask them to notice the breath as it comes in through the nose... notice it as it goes out through the nose or mouth... Invite the children to focus on the contents of the jar as the bread soda settles, encouraging the mind to settle while doing so. Invite the children to take one last breath that is s-l-o-w and c-a-l-m. This can also be done using e a snow globe or glitter ball.
Download the ‘Let your Light Shine’ mandala and lesson plan here
Download the ‘Growing and Changing’ mandala and lesson plan here
Sounds of Silence
Take a silent moment between subjects – invite children to listen to the sounds outside the room... the sounds inside the room... the sound of the breath... the heart of the heart beating...
The Five Senses
Invite the children to become aware of each of the five senses – hearing, seeing, smell, tase and touch. Take them for a walk outdoors. Invite them to focus on ONE of the sense. When back in the classroom invite them to discuss their experience. Alternatively ask them to write about or to draw it
CDs for Kids
CDs for kids include The Zone, Still Space and Spás Síochanta Suaimhneach which are perfect for use in the classroom. The content of the CDs is based on the SPHE strands of Myself and Self-identity. All of the tracks are guided step by step with Ann and Derval’s relaxing Irish accents. The Zone’s playful style of visualisation, affirmation and breathing creates a positive and peaceful atmosphere in the classroom and has the added bonus of improving children’s attention.
Still Space focuses on kindness, compassion and useful thinking skills thus providing children with valuable life skills. Spás Síochanta Suaimhneach, a direct translation of Still Space, is a wonderful learning resource for schools where Irish is the preferred language. It also help the integration of Irish into SPHE. It includes a phonetic Irish English dictionary to assist learning and the promotion of the Irish language.
Many schools throughout the country are using Mindfulness Matters CDs daily and have reported that it is something the children look forward to. In line with international research Irish children are reaping the benefits of mindfulness in the classroom. Using the CDs in the classroom also gives the teacher an opportunity to relax with the children.
Smiling is contagious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at
me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner,
and someone saw my grin -
When he smiled I
realized, I'd passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth,
A single smile, just like mine,
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don't leave it undetected -
Let's start an epidemic quick
and get the world infected!
Videos for Kids
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Worry Box - Worry Tree
Depending on the age of the child this idea can be used in different ways. It can be used at school and at home.
In School: In school a plant or the branch of a tree can be used to hang worries on. Children can be invited to write a worry on a small tag and hang it on the tree. Price tags available in stationary shops are ideal. Inform them that the tree thrives on worries, and it needs to be fed every day. The purpose of this exercise is to allow children to let go of their worries for the moment, to leave them behind as they enter the classroom or maybe as they leave the classroom too. The children are encouraged to let the worry tree do the worrying! At the end of the day the teacher can remove the worry tags from the tree and destroy them. When the children arrive to school the next morning they notice that worries are not permanent, they come and go.
At Home: Children may write a worry on a little worry pad e.g. post-it pad. An old small could be covered with coloured paper and can be designed perhaps with a worried face and a smiley face or whatever creative ideas the children come up with themselves. The worry is placed into the box, maybe with a time and a date, depending on the age of the child, maybe just with ‘morning’ ‘afternoon’ ‘evening’ and the day of the week. If you’d like to make the worry box more specific you can use a larger sheet of paper, the worry can be given a title, a description, a level of intensity from 1-10. Take some time at the end of the day or whenever it suits to open the worry box with the children. Review the worries, talk about each one, talk about how the possible feelings involved, maybe you or others could make suggestions as to how to handle the problem that’s causing the worry. You could discover that some of the worries have gone away on their own, other worries might need to be discussed. If a worry has gone away, rip up the written worry and put it in the bin. Remind the child that the worry box helped, when you let it go (place it in the worry box) and stop re-playing it in your head sometimes it’s as if it disappears. If the worry has not disappeared, keep it in the worry box for a later review and bring to the child’s attention how everything changes with time. Our thoughts, our fears, our worries are changing all the time…they are not permanent!
The Five Senses
The following practice is a useful one for children who have low self-esteem, and indeed for all children and adults. It’s an opportunity to notice that negative voice that may be in your head, recognise it for what it is and to choose a different approach.
We’ve all hear the expression bird-brain…what does that mean? Ask for suggestions from the children. (It means lack of knowledge or insight)
Sometimes it can feel like you have a parrot in a tiny cage in our heads…ask the children what parrots do? (They repeat the same thing again and again and again without any understanding of what they are saying)
Explain that this particular parrot has been trained to only say unhelpful things, things that worry you or make you afraid, make you feel like you’re not good enough etc. He never says anything helpful, he just goes on and on, putting you down all the time. When you make a mistake or get something wrong, he says e.g. …there you go again… you’re useless.. you’re always wrong… you can’t do anything right, who do you think you are? He keeps repeating his phrases.
How long can you listen to the parrot going on and on and on? Maybe you don’t have to listen to him at all? You can decide to remove the parrot and just let him go, let him fly far away. You realise there is no point in holding onto this parrot. He’s not helpful or useful, he’s very noisy and fills your head with negative thoughts. He’s a bully, an internal bully, as long as he’s allowed to repeat all those negative things and fill your head with all that noise he can really affect your whole life. You hear him, sometimes you even believe what he says, he doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. Remember though that he is a bird-brain!
What you can learn to do is to notice the pesky parrot when he starts to speak…maybe say to yourself…’there’s that pesky parrot again, I don’t have to listen to his ranting, he’s just repeating himself again and again and is not very wise.’
Then open the tiny cage and let him fly away and enjoy the peace.
Warning! The pesky parrot may come back again and again and again just as he repeats his phrases again and again and again…..
Good news! When you notice he’s back and waffling on yet again…open the cage and set him free. You can repeat this practice again and again and again as necessary!
Note: The track called ‘Bubble up’ on the brand new Mindfulness Matters CD ‘Take Five’ can be used to support this practice.
Guide the children to take a few quiet breaths. Invite them to turn the mouth up into a smile with each breath, not a big smile but a simple natural smile like when meeting someone familiar. Notice the lips – their shape and movement. Does the smile change any other part of the face – the cheeks, the eyes, the eyelids... the ears, the tongue... breathe slowly and joyfully...
Practice mindful smiling every day.
Mindfulness actions can be numerous and varied. Take time to integrate mindful moments with the children throughout the day.
Random Acts of Kindness
We all have the potential to be kind. Kindness is an expression of love. When we do something kind it makes the person we do it for feel good, loved and/or cared for. Interestingly, the person giving kindness usually feels good too, and in fact often feels better than the person who receives it. Acts of kindness create a sense of community and a sense of self-worth. Like smiling, kindness is also contagious, the more we experience it in our lives the more we want to pass it on so creating a wonderful domino effect of love and kindness and a lovely atmosphere in the classroom. Children can be encouraged to do random acts of kindness. Maybe you can have one day per week as kindness day for the class. Suggested acts could be opening a door for someone, sharing something, picking something up off the floor without being asked to do so, smiling, giving a compliment etc.
Tip: A useful resource that includes specific tracks encouraging kindness and compassion is the Still Space CD by Mindfulness Matters. Also available ‘as Gaeilge’ it facilitates integration of Irish into SPHE. Warning! Even if you pick just one day a week to do random acts of kindness they may sneak into everyday, kindness is contagious!
Mindfulness Matters Mandala:
‘Growing & Changing’
The purpose of Mindfulness Matters mandalas is to explore growing and changing.
Download the Butterfly mandala and instructions here.
(Microsoft Word, 3.4Mb)