The Essential Toolkit of the Zen Teacher
If you are an elementary or preschool teacher wanting to include moments of mindfulness and yoga in your classroom, there are a few tools that will make your life easier!
Here is a short list of objects that you can pull out of your Zen Teacher’s magic bag on a whim (Mary Poppins’ style!) whenever you feel like your class could use a little moment of mindfulness.
- A breathing sphere: for easy and short breathing exercises along the day. You just open and close the sphere at a slow pace, and your students follow with their breath (inhale when opening, exhale when closing). You can play with the length of inhales and exhales, just keeping in mind that young children usually have shorter breaths than adults.
- A Tibetan bowl: this simple, yet kind of magical instruments always mesmerizes students! They love the sound and vibrations it creates. It has a great soothing and calming effect, so you may quickly get addicted! Too learn ideas on how to use a singing bowl in class, click here!
- A stack of printed mandalas to color: sometimes, it can be very relaxing for students to take a few minutes to just enjoy coloring (or painting) one of these beautiful meditative patterns. I like to give students this opportunity to do mindful coloring for a little while between two assignments requiring a lot of focus. You can easily find tons of great mandalas online, ready to print, or invest in a book if you prefer to avoid the search. I even found scratch-off mandalas that were a big success with the students (@BarnesAndNoble).
- A zen mascot: students love that, especially the younger ones! Find a teddy bear of doll that can be your “little helper” to catch your students’ attention during your mindfulness & yoga sessions. My third graders love our Meddy Teddy, a yoga bear that can take all kinds of poses. We use it to play “Meddy says”… just like Simon Says, but with yoga poses!
- A playlist of relaxing music: sounds of nature, classical music (instrumental without lyrics), anything with a soothing rhythm and peaceful melody can help students calm down and focus during written work, art classes, or just as a short break between activities.
- A few books to read to the kids: there are now a lot of lovely books about mindfulness, kindness, peace, yoga… that you can read to your class whenever you feel like they could use a mindful break and little treat from you. A few examples: I Am Peace, I Am Yoga, Mind Bubbles… (More detailed reading list coming soon!)
- One Kids Yoga book: any book showing you useful and handy examples of yoga poses or games adapted to kids. That can be a great tool when you just begin and are not sure exactly what kind of poses to pick and use with your students. I like to refer to Yoga For Kids, by Liz Lark, for instance.
Now, just have fun and be zen! :)