A Clear Mind

As a follow up to the lesson we did in class Monday, today I talked to my students about having a clear mind. I'd love to take credit for this fabulous visual representation of what happens in our mind when we get all jumbly-bumbly from the stresses around us, but all props must go to Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child and the Inner Kids program, which teaches mindfulness through games and activities.  Check it out!
But in the meantime, here's Susan using a jar of water and baking soda to show kids how breath awareness can help us calm our minds when life gets crazy.

I did the same activity with my class today, which was especially fitting as we had a science test that they were a little worried about. Before adding the baking soda to the water we talked about how we feel when we are calm, taking time to notice where we feel "calmness" in our body. We also talked about what it feels like when things around us start to bug us. I brought up our hula hoop experience, so we were able to add in a discussion about how it feels when people get in our personal space or when we allow others to start making choices for us. My students impressed me with their ability to define how and where they feel their frustrations -- in their chest, their stomachs, their head, and one student even said in his fist! As we talked about that, I added in baking soda and had them call out all the things that bother them -- the room got louder and louder as the water turned into a thick white cloud.
And then I asked them to take a moment and just breathe. I told them that when I need to get control of myself, I sometimes image that there is a string attached to my head that is pulling my body straight and tall, and then I take a nice, long deep breathe. So we all did that together. One of my kids quietly commented that the water was beginning to clear up.
We talked about how nice it is to have a way to let the frustrations that come into our mind sink away and focus on ourselves instead.
Throughout the day they brought up the jar, which I left sitting on my desk all day. They also wrote about their experience and how they thought they could use picturing the jar in their mind along with taking three deep breaths to help destress. At the end of the day, a few of my students even said they used this technique during our test and were looking forward to trying it at home when their brothers or sisters started bugging them!
Here's one example of their writing today:

I'm excited to check in with them tomorrow to see how it went!

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