Mindfulness in the Classroom
So, let’s start exploring ways to bring mindfulness into the classroom.
Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers in the Classroom
Kids are ripe for beginning a mindfulness practice. Some easy, fun, and engaging mindfulness exercises for students will help kids focus and be less anxious. Some of these activities allow children to learn the practice without 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 to 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 a field trip. S
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 fresh air.
Easy and Inexpensive Mindfulness Exercises for Kids
The quickest way to get little ones to use their senses is by using their bodies – no other “materials” are needed!
Have students keep their eyes open and count five things they can see in the room. Then, have them close their eyes and count four sounds they hear. Afterward, have them count three things they can either touch or are touching (i.e., 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 buy or make a sensory jar filled with water, glue (for bonding), and glitter.
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, their emotions, to steady out and sink to the bottom again. This exercise is 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 as a game, you might be unable to get your four to six-year-olds to be still for hours at a time. However, you’ll instill in their techniques for being present in a way that doesn’t seem like a chore.
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 for three breaths, hold for two breaths, and exhale for three. 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 elementary teachers have students take 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 into 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 teaches an awareness of the body and 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.