Mindful Movement does not always need to be calm, slow and serious.

We often talk about, “meeting the body where it is at”. This time of year can present challenges for adults trying to wrangle in the excess energy. Instead of trying to resist the silliness, we recommend offering opportunities for play within the mindful framework.

Trickster and Archetype Game from the Yoga Calm® curriculum helps students identify the trickster in themselves and develop this aspect of the personality in ways that are useful or otherwise positive.

Are you looking for a way to spice up your literacy lesson? Here is how you can integrate this game into the Text Connections ELA standard.

Start With Stories

Start by building background with a variety of trickster tales. From Kipling’s Just So Stories to Robin Hood and his Merry Men, skip across time and space to analyze the similarities between all of these tricksters.

Play the Game

Start by spreading the students out around the room. Use the Move Mindfully® Card Deck to cue bodies into Mountain. Call out the name of a trickster, like “Anansi” and watch as everyone transforms into cunning spiders, scurrying along the floor. I like to use my drum as a cue to start and stop movement. When the drum starts playing, movement starts. When the drum stops playing, movement stops. The slow, steady beat also helps from things getting out of control. 

trickster game

When the drum stops, students show a freeze of the trickster. It is important that after an exciting game like this one, that students are brought back with regulating breathing and movement. Try the video on the Move Mindfully® Teachers Pay Teachers store.

theater games in school

Extend to Writing

To extend into Writer’s Workshop, you can use photos from the Trickster Game as inspiration for a Trickster Tale. You’ll be amazed how weaving their own image into the illustration can encourage even reluctant writers to produce creative writing!

student art work        student art work

Build Self Awareness and Self Esteem

I love that this activity allows students to tap into a side of their personality that is normally seen as taboo. I even had a student come back the next day and say, “Now, Mrs. Kennelly… I normally wouldn’t do this, but I figured you would be okay with it… studying tricksters and all…” After much beating around the bush he presented his prized collection of practical joke items. He was so proud showing off his fake cockroach.

practical joke items

In this world we need architects, advocates and executives… but we also need jokesters. We need the class clown. We need to laugh. And what is funnier than a fake cockroach on your breakfast?

Have you tried the trickster activity? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

The Chime

Today, choose joy.

Breath work allows us to set an intention and align our body and mind. Although we bring Move Mindfully® into schools and therapeutic settings, the work truly begins with us in our own homes. Often times evenings can feel rushed, shuffling kids from one activity to the next. Mealtime is the perfect opportunity to slow down and connect.

There are a few products from our store that are a staple in my personal home life. My favorite is the chime. Our family begins our mealtime by ringing the chime twice so both boys can have a turn. The chime clears the space, and brings focus to the start of our time together. I find that I often come to the table with thoughts spinning from the day, but when that chime rings I return to the present moment.

ringing the chime before meals

The chime is also a great way to begin lessons with students. See our chime lesson plan on our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The Chime

After the chime, we go around the table and share a joy from the day.  My husband and I are modeling this for our young children as their brains process the information with mirror neurons. Parents want to solve their children’s problems, but the best way to address unhappiness is to model happiness. Verbally processing how to find joy, or gratitude, in even the most difficult of situations can have a lifelong impact.

As we go around and share our joy, we are forced to slow down and think about the numerous positive moments that filled out day. Even my 20 month old will say in toddler talk, “jaba”, which we then in turn try to translate- “Your joy was playing with a truck?” where he always responds, “Yeah!”. We then take a deep breath together, taking those moments that into our hearts. It takes that one simple joyful moment and multiplies the effect.

As you settle in for a family meal, think about sharing your joy with family. Sometimes the prompt, “What are you thankful for?” promotes responses about objects, especially from children, such as, “My stuffed animals”. When you ask, “What is your joy?” I have found that more often the response is an experience, such as “playing with a friend at recess” or “seeing the big moon this morning”.

Do you have a mealtime tradition of sharing? What has worked well for you? Please leave a comment.

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Tree Circle

Strong community is the foundation for social emotional learning.

We are not islands. As human beings, we need each other to achieve our greater purpose. Creating an environment of community in and outside of school, is one of the most important things adults can give to children.

Community Circle and Tree Circle from the Yoga Calm® Curriculum are two activities to support community building initiates.

Community Circle

I like to begin the topic of community with a guided visualization. Students are prompted to imagine a party and all of the important people that they would see in the room. I encourage students to think of people they see on a daily basis (bus driver, teacher, classmates, siblings, parents) and also people they only see one in awhile (extended family, family friends).

Then, students write their name in the center and fill in the rings with all of the community members they imagined in the visualization. Usually, students will write immediate family in the inner circle and work outwards to place acquaintances in the outer circle. However, I try to keep these directions open ended to allow for various family structures.

For an added element, I had the students watercolor on their circles. We have talked a lot about color and how different colors represent different emotions. I encouraged them to find colors that made them feel safe and supported.

Community Circle Worksheets

After that, I hung these works of art in their lockers. The intent is that everyday they are reminded that they are surrounded by many people that provide love and support.

Tree Circle

Finally, we went outside, in our Peace Garden, and did silent Tree Circle. Students begin by each finding tree pose. Using cuing language found in our Move Mindfully® Card Deck. Then, they reach out with an open, flat hand and press into their neighbors palm. Sometimes students will want to interlace, or hold hands, but I prompt pressure with an open, flat hand. This pose embodies the idea of support. Push too hard, and you both tumble. Push too light, and your neighbors do not feel grounded. However, if both partners can provide the same amount of pressure, it creates an incredibly stable base. As a circle, if just one partnership is not supported, it impacts everyones balance. We are all connected.

You can extend the Tree Poetry lesson from our Teachers Pay Teachers store to include descriptions of all the trees together. The forrest. How is the class like a forest?

Looking around the circle at the different faces, these children represent different races, different languages, different cultures… yet we are all part of the same community. A community that holds each other up.

tree circle
How have you discussed community with your students? Please leave a comment.

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly