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The Best Methods to Bring Mindfulness into the Classroom

This post outlines easy & effective ways to bring mindfulness in the classroom. Mindfulness seems to be a buzzword these days capturing headlines and infiltrating all aspects of life. There are mindfulness apps, mindfulness exercises for families, mindfulness activities for kids, and books galore about the topic.
 
The ubiquitousness of the word itself – maybe even the practice of mindfulness – might get an eye roll or two. Here is the thing, though, a myriad of scientific research studies back up the positive impact mindfulness has on human existence. So, integrating mindfulness in the classroom makes a lot of sense.
Effective & Easy Ways to Practice Mindfulness in the Classroom

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Just what does it mean to be mindful? According to Merriam-Webster, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”. Regardless of the science, there isn’t much of a downfall with mindfulness.
 
Is mindfulness just another fad? Or is it something more, something that actually has a positive impact, especially on our youth? Mindfulness is not a craze. It is a practice that is rooted in science. Mindfulness is proven to have a strong and beneficial effect on people of all ages.
 
When introduced at a young age, kids will grow up with increased cognitive awareness and a higher degree of self-regulation. Plus with all the headlines about increasing rates of anxiety and depression in kids, mindfulness is a low-risk approach to mitigate those statistics.
 
Mindful Classroom

So, let’s get started on exploring ways to bring mindfulness in the classroom.

Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers in the Classroom

Kids are ripe for beginning a mindfulness practice. There are some really easy, fun, and engaging mindfulness exercises for students that will help kids focus and less anxious. Some of these activities allow children to learn the practice without even feeling like they’re learning one of the most important skills a person can learn: self-awareness and self-regulation.

One of the easiest ways to teach mindfulness activities for preschoolers is to have them play sensory games. These games can be played from the comfort of their seats, outside, or even on the bus on the way to a field trip. Sensory games have kids use their senses as a means for increasing awareness of their environment as well as their place within that environment. Listening activities for kids are a fantastic means of being more present. We love going on a listening walk to clear our minds and get a bit of fresh air. 

Easy and Inexpensive Mindfulness Exercises for Kids

The quickest way to get little ones using their senses is by using their bodies – no other “materials” are needed!

Have students keep their eyes open and count five things in the room that they can see. Then, have them close their eyes and count four sounds that they hear. Afterward, have them count three things that they can either touch or is touching them (ie the chair they are sitting in). For two, have them count two things they can smell (this one will be sure to give you a laugh or two!). Finally, for the last one, instead of taste, which might be a little much for younger ones, have them engage in some self-love by coming up with one thing they like about themselves.

Mindfulness Activity for Preschoolers & Kindergarteners

#1 – Glitter Jar 

Another fun way to teach mindfulness to preschool-aged kids is by using a glitter jar. Don’t worry – there won’t be glitter on little hands after this practice. Instead, you can either buy or make a sensory jar that is filled with water, glue (for bonding), and glitter.

Much like an old-school sand timer, glitter jars help children with sensory sensitivities and anxiety. They also increase their awareness. After shaking the jar, you can have the students practice mindful breathing while the glitter settles to the bottom. You can also use the jar to teach an awareness of how our reactions work. Have the kids begin to think of their happy or angry emotions as the glitter swirls. Then, begin to notice how time allows these pieces of glitter, and therefore their emotions, to steady out and sink to the bottom again. This exercise is really a good one for kids of all ages!

#2 – The Calm Competition

Do you remember the good ol’ days when your parents and teachers would play the quiet game? They might not have been aware of or even trying to teach you the benefits of mindfulness, but whether they were intentional or not, they were helping you engage in mindfulness.

With a few explicit instructions, though, and sharing of your intentions, you can teach mindfulness activities for kindergarten aged kids with a similar tactic to the one your parents may have used for some peace and quiet.

This mind game offers a win-win situation. Kids love to compete, and we love to teach our younger students how to be calm and present. By presenting mindfulness in the form of a game, you might not be able to get your four to six-year-olds to be still for hours at a time. However, you’ll definitely instill in them techniques for being present in a way that doesn’t seem like a chore to them.

All you need for this mindfulness practice is a timer. Start small. On the first day, set the timer for one minute and challenge your students to be still by practicing deep breaths in and out. Silently count in for three breaths, hold for two breaths, and exhale for three breaths. Over time, you can have kids work their way up to two or even three minutes!

Breathing exercises are also an effective mindfulness activity.

Mindfulness Activities In the Classroom

What better way to teach mindfulness activities than bringing in an awareness of the body itself? You’ve probably heard of elementary teachers having students engage in brain breaks by practicing a body scan. What is a body scan, and how is it such an effective tool for toddlers and younger children? The body scan teaches kids active listening, body awareness, and awareness of their environment.

#1 – Body Scan 

There are several ways to incorporate a body scan into your classroom. Find a script for body scans online if you need one. Then slowly read it to the kids as they close their eyes and follow along. You can also find a body scan video online. Simply play the video and follow along with your students. Both options are great tools for helping increase mindfulness for kids in your classroom. Headspace is also a great app that many teachers use to bring mindfulness in the classroom.

#2 – The Heartbeat Game 

Another great way to teach mindfulness to kids by using the body is by playing the heartbeat game. You start by having the kids close their eyes while sitting down. They can put their right hand over the heart and count their heartbeat for one minute. Afterward, have them move by engaging in jumping jacks or running in place for thirty seconds to a minute.

Next, have them take a seat and repeat the hand over the heart exercise. After the second heartbeat count, have them compare the numbers they got when resting and after exercising. This mindfulness practice not only teaches an awareness of the body but also helps improve kids’ focus. Plus, it gets them moving in the middle of the day when they need to get their wiggles out! It’s another win-win situation.

Additional Mindfulness in the Classroom Resources

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