Mindfulness Benefits Third Graders

As teachers are reflecting back on the success of the school year, a classroom in West Saint Paul is crediting a program that is quickly expanding across the metro.

At Garlough Elementary in West St. Paul, third grade teacher Stephanie Kennelly says yoga, breathing, and being mindful of one another are just a few of the key elements that are helping her students find stress relief, focus, and calm.

“Especially after recess when kids are wound up, before tests we’ll do the focusing routine,” said Kennelly.

Kathy Flaminio started a company called one 1000 Petals 10 years ago after two decades as a social worker with Minneapolis Public Schools. Since then, she has helped train more than 20,000 educatorsand service providers across the country. Flaminio says five of the largest school districts in the state are in some way integrating ways to connect the mind and body.

“I know test scores are a piece of it and it’s a big piece in education, but it’s like the social, emotional, and physical elements are just as important as the academic,” said Flaminio. “When I started integrating that  movement into my work, within six weeks we saw changes we hadn’t seen in 10 years.”

Many students are using what they’ve learned at home as well including techniques in the relaxation station, a quiet corner in Kennelly’s classroom where kids can find their own peace of mind at any time.

“I do not think I sent one student to the office this year because of that,” said Kennelly.

Next year, more Yoga Calm elements will be expanded into the entire Garlough Elementary and the district is considering further expansion. As they reflect on the school year, it’s hard to tell who gets the most out of the relaxing rituals – Mrs. Kennelly or her students.

“I like that we are all like jiggly in the beginning, but then we all get calmed down, and the room just feels nice,” said one student.

“I feel like I can move forward with greater patience and clarity when I take that time for myself,” said Kennelly.

By Leah Beno

May 31, 2017

See Original Article Fox 9

1000 Petals®/Yoga Calm® Card Deck

“I would like my students to do yoga, but I have no idea where to start.”

Does the thought of introducing yoga based movement seem overwhelming? Many teachers can feel stuck when faced with having to physically demonstrate or verbally cue yoga poses. The good news is, we have taken the guess work out of it for you. Our team has developed the Move Mindfully Card Deck® which provides images and language to support the movement. The card deck empowers students leaders while keeping the movement fresh and interesting by allowing for choice and creativity.

move mindfully card deck

Here are a few ways we have used the deck.

Whole Class

Start by spreading out all of the cards on the table. Invite a leader back to choose 3-8 cards and create a routine. Make sure to lay the following guidelines as a framework. Begin with breath, then movement, such as a balance pose followed by a forward fold, and end in a resting pose. As the teacher, you are in control of what cards are offered and setting limits on how many can be chosen. However, the student leaders still feel the benefits of creating the routine and having choice.

building a yoga routine with the card deck

Next, you can choose two different leaders to get in on the action. One can lead the movements while the other reads the back of the card. The beauty of the card deck is that the language for cueing the movements is all there for you! Working with younger students? We have seen teachers whisper the language to the leader and then the leader states it to the class.

 

language on the move mindfully card deck

Don’t have time for students to create a routine? Or, you want to target something specific? Also included in the deck are suggested routines for a variety of concerns such as anger, transition and anxiety. The cards are even numbered for easy identification.

Individual Students

Consolers, social workers and paraprofessionals  love the card deck as well. It lends itself to the perfect Tier 2 small group or one on one intervention.

Students can choose movements in the morning and continue to practice during body breaks.

paraprofessional using the move mindfully card deck      paraprofessional using crescent pose

Here is what a paraprofessional had to say-

One student was very nervous and having difficulty sitting still. I had him select two poses for grounding and within just a few minutes he was able to focus and start the test. Some time later he was getting anxious and said “it was too much for him”. Again we used the cards this time picking poses for anxiety. This helped him relax and he was able to finish the test completely. I can see lots of uses for these cards in my work with academically and behaviorally challenged students. As a Para I’d love to have a set to hang ’round my neck…at the ready!

Non-Verbal Transitions

Our card deck can easily serve as a non-verbal redirector. Getting fidgety in line? Flash Mountain Pose.

Here is what a teacher thought-

The card deck easily slips onto a lanyard. I loved having it around my deck for easy access. I was able to reference the poses to provide non-verbal instruction. This was useful when we were standing in the hallway or transitioning before a field trip?

Have you had students choose movements or build their own routines? Would you use the Move Mindfully Card Deck? Leave a Comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Happiness Recipe Rest

What makes you happy? Or maybe a better question, what keeps you engaged in the present moment?

I posed this question to my students. In a world of competing, demanding stimuli, the currency of attention goes a long way. Within the instructional framework, a calm, focused, happy state of mind is one that is also ready to learn.

We began by filling out the Happiness Recipe Worksheet from the Yoga Calm® curriculum. After all of the self-work we have been doing this year, most were able to answer the questions fairly easily.

They were also excited to take the worksheet home and interview a family member. I even challenged the students to predict possible answers. “Besides doing the laundry, I am not sure what other activities my mom enjoys” and “I don’t think my dad ever gets to be alone” were some of the responses. Do you think you could predict your child’s or partner’s answers?

Allowing Rest Time

After processing through this activity, I decide to integrate the responses into Rest. With the hurried energy of the school year, taking a few moments to stop and settle are essential for student (and teacher) well being.

legs on chair and listening to iPad

We have been using The Boat Ride as a scripted relaxation. (Here is the audio recorded by Lynea Gillen.)

My students love the imagery of floating in boat. Based on this script, I created a google doc. In a Mad Libs format, students were able to edit and insert their answers from the Happiness Recipe.

Integrating Technology

Although we seem to be bombarded with news about the detrimental effects of technology and brain development, I will argue that there is a place for technology to support mental health. My students have access to one-to-one on iPads. I have been waiting for the moment to integrate our lessons with this amazing technological tool.

To begin, students shared the document to an online digital portfolio and recorded their voices reading the script. Here is an audio sample. Now, students have a personalized rest story that is easily accessible.

It is important during rest that students are given choice for body position. Head on Desk and Child’s Pose are popular and both are found in our Move Mindfully Card Deck. Then, using the iPad, students can listen to their own voices, on headphones, visualizing happy moments. It’s like giving yourself a pep talk!

A student commented, “When I’m feeling anxious, I like hearing my voice and remembering all the things that bring me happiness.”

What do you use for rest? Have you tried personalization? Please leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Gratitude Breath and Glitter Jars

Gratitude changes everything.

Think about a situation where it felt like it took every last ounce of your willpower to stay cool, calm and collected.  As I write this, I have to admit that my moment just happened a couple hours ago when I just couldn’t handle it anymore…my kids seemed to be crying about e-ve-ry-thing!

I tried to stay calm, but that calmness muscle in my body had been fatigued, and I lost my cool. I threw my son’s‚ yet-to-be-eaten supper in the sink after he changed his mind twice about how he wanted it cut up, but then didn’t want it cut up. Let me just make it clear that I actually did throw it like a ball through the air into the sink. It felt really good at the time. However, my time with my kids is precious and I don’t want to waste it by being frustrated and impatient. I was able to recognize this quickly, and use some tools I have learned as a wellness professional and parent to make the best of this situation.

I stepped away and took a gratitude breath.

Gratitude Breath

Sit or stand up nice and tall through your spine. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand over your belly button. Breathe in slowly through your nose and let the air travel through your chest and all the way down into your belly so that your bottom hand in gently pushed out by your belly.

Hold that breath for a second and then slowly release the breath so it takes slightly longer to breath it out than it did to breath it in. Continue this slow, deep breathing pattern for as long as you’d like. The hand that is on your heart reminds you to think of one thing that you feel grateful for at the moment. If it’s hard for you to come up with something, you can be grateful for a beating heart!

Consider using this exercise once per day at a point of transition and savor how it makes you feel‚ perhaps more settled and happy! Better yet, try it with your kids! Using the breathing ball, or Hoberman Sphere, can help children visualize this breath work as well.

children practice gratitude breathAnother tool that helps inspire calm is a glitter jar (aka: calming jars, mindfulness jars, relaxation jars). I have used them with adult clients as well we with my own children. Visit the Move Mindfully® Teachers Pay Teachers Store for a lesson plan on how to introduce this tool.

When you shake the jars, they show an excellent illustration of how our mind, body and spirits can feel when life gets too chaotic and out of control. As we watch the glitter inside the jar, we begin to take calming deep breaths all the way down to a relaxed belly. As those breaths flow in and out, we watch the glitter begin to settle to the bottom of the jar. We notice the top of the jar beginning to become clear once again. Then, we notice that our bodies are settling and our minds are becoming more clear.

It takes a matter of two minutes to notice the shift from chaos and clutter to peace and clarity. These jars can be used by people of absolutely any age which is why I am sharing the recipe with you. You can give these as gifts to people to show your gratitude for them. A win-win for all!

Create A Glitter Jar

Supplies needed:

  • Container of your choice with a tight fitting lid
  • Elmer’s clear glue
  • Water
  • Fine glitter
  1. Fill the container 20% full with glue. (use more glue if you’d like the glitter to settle more slowly)
  2.  Next, fill the jar to the 80% full level with very hot/slightly boiling water.
  3. Gently stir the water and glue together until they are blended evenly.
  4. Add 1 tsp. of fine glitter and slowly stir into the water and glue mixture. (1 tsp. works well in an 8 oz. container. Adjust according to container size)
  5. Next, add room temperature water until almost full. Place cover on tightly, shake it up, and enjoy!

Hopefully these two examples, the gratitude breath and the calming jars, can be useful to you in the future to help you find find peace and calm. Each of us already has a toolbox of strengths, talents, support systems and techniques that we can have access to during difficult situations. Now, grab your tools, find your calm, and live on!

Brooke Campbell

About the Author:

Brooke Campbell is a wellness coach, personal trainer and group exercise instructor. She believes in SAVORING experiences, living SIMPLY and SHINING with joy and abundance. She can be reached at brookecampbell23@gmail.com.