Meddy Teddy

Meddy Teddy is a great teacher for Toddlers/Preschoolers

I have taught toddler/preschool yoga for the last ten plus years and one thing I know for sure is that the use of visuals while teaching is a key to success. When I started teaching all those years ago, many people were surprised I could teach such young children breathing, mindfulness and movement. As many of us know, Early Education is actually a perfect environment for this fun, playful practice. Here is what makes Meddy Teddy the perfect tool!

meddy teddy

A Model for the Movement

One of the difficulties with teaching younger children, is how to help them stay engaged with the yoga-based movement. Modeling the movement with our own bodies is very helpful for engagement. Sometimes we can’t model the poses if we need to help children – assisting with balance, or lightly lifting their backs off the floor for a Gentle Bridge. When we assist a little one into a pose, we are no longer demonstrating the pose with our body. This is where our assistant Meddy Teddy shines. Meddy Teddy can hold the pose freeing us up to move around the room to assist children.

Meddy Teddy Plank Pose

A Friend for Relaxation

Meddy Teddy is also the best Relaxation participant. Meddy Teddy can lie down with a beanie baby on his belly to model how we stay still and quiet in final relaxation. Children are able to see exactly what the expectation is. They follow Meddy Teddy’s lead and breathe deeply into their bellies to gently rock the beanie babies to sleep. Because Meddy Teddy does not move and does not talk, they strive to do the same.

Meddy Teddy Rest

A Trauma Informed Intervention

Recently, I have been working with an Early Education group of children experiencing trauma and dysregulation. I have had great success leading a session with the visuals from the Move Mindfully® Early Education Card Deck – Mountain, Upward Mountain, Forward Fold, Child’s/Seed, Tree, Down Dog, Rock on Back, Windshield Wipers. Once we move through these movements (repeating Mountain, Upward Mountain, Forward Fold 2-3x, and Seed to Tree balancing on both sides), I lie Meddy Teddy down and place a beanie baby on his belly so that the children know it’s time for Final Relaxation. I use reflective language for both Meddy Teddy and the Children at the end of our relaxation. “Meddy Teddy’s body looks peaceful and calm – is your body peaceful and calm?” or “Meddy Teddy’s beanie baby is asleep – is your beanie baby asleep?”

Meddy Teddy Breathing Buddy

A Co-Teacher

Using Meddy Teddy frees me up to be able to lie down or sit next to a child that is struggling while still being able to refer the other children back to what we are supposed to be doing. When it’s time to go, Meddy Teddy gets a lot of kisses and hugs from the children!

Meddy Teddy and Friends

Meddy Teddy is also a great tool for home use. Toddlers love his calm, reassuring presence before bed. Also, while this post is focused on toddlers and preschoolers, older students love Meddy too! I have found that sometimes the reluctant students in the group are able to access the movement through Teddy!

Meddy Teddy at Bedtime

Meddy Teddy for all ages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow all of Meddy’s adorable adventures on Instagram. (he has almost 50,000 followers!)

What do you use when teaching toddlers and preschoolers? What visuals are helpful? Leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written By,

Chrissy Mignogna

Move Mindfully® Early Childhood Card Deck

Early Childhood environments allow us to use self regulation skills in a playful way.

We have had tremendous success teaching mindfulness and movement strategies in the Early Childhood environments. We know that early intervention is key. Read our blog post for 4 Key Tips to success in Early Childhood Environments.

To further support adults working in Pre-K and ECSE environments, we have created the Move Mindfully Early Childhood Card Deck! These beautiful visuals with simple, age appropriate language provide a great way to teach breathing, mindfulness and yoga-based movement in Early Education environments. Here is how you can use this tool with your young learners.

Getting Started

Get the group started with breathing. If you have a Hoberman Sphere*, start with the breathing ball card and let each child have a turn with the breathing ball before leading the group in 3-5 slow, deep belly breaths. If you don’t have the Hoberman Sphere, you can ask children to take a deep breath with their hands on their bellies and puff up their bellies like a balloon when they breathe in, and feel their belly sink down when they breathe out. Start with 3-5 breaths as a group after introducing the idea of belly breathing.

*Yoga Calm® Activity

Using the Card Deck

Choose 4-5 cards to focus on and display them either in the center of the circle or on the board.

You might start with the Seed/Child’s Pose card and the Tree card. Get children into Seed and talk to them about how seeds are tucked down under the ground while they get ready to grow. Once they get enough sunshine and rain, the seeds can come up through the soil and grow into tiny little sprouts. When children are quiet and curled up in Seed Pose, reflect how calm their bodies are – this is a great pose to use before naptime/rest time, too. You can even ask children to show their families at home this great pose for before bedtime!

From Seed, count to 3 and have the children come up from the floor into a little green sprout – then you can all grow into a Tree. For younger bodies, Tree Pose might require leaning against a wall or getting the support of an adult to balance. Repeat Seed to Tree again to give opportunity to balance on the other foot, as well.

You could also choose to use Mountain, Hi Sun (Upward Mountain), Waterfall (Forward Fold) as your movement sequence. Still being playful as you move – waving Hi to the Sun in Upward Mountain, coming down into Forward Fold like water flowing down a mountain. Repeating this sequence 3 times will help children start to calm since they are folding forward, bringing their heads below their hearts and taking out all the visual sensory distractions as they breathe deeply.

Ending Rest

End the lesson by getting children lying on their backs with a stuffed animal on their belly. Encourage them to breathe deeply so they can rock their animal to sleep on their belly. Then as children become quieter and more still, let them know that their stuffed animal has fallen asleep.

As you continue to work with children you can add more cards and extend the Final Story from one to three minutes to five to seven minutes. Our card deck has useful tips and helpful sequences to get you started. Invite the children to help pick the cards you will use each time and most of all have fun!

Do you use yoga based movement in an Early Childhood setting? What has worked well? Leave a comment!

Written by, Chrissy Mignogna

Move Mindfully® Essential Oil Blend

Essential oils support self care both in adults and children.

We know that the best state for learning and navigating life is to be relaxed/alert, strong/at ease, brave/open. When we are able to show up grounded and open for the day we tend to feel stable, balanced and at ease.

Move Mindfully Instructor

With that intention, we have partnered with doTERRA to create a signature Move Mindfully® Essential Oil Blend that is both grounding and energizing.

move mindfully essential oil

What’s the science?

The olfactory bulb, which operates the sense of smell, transmits information directly to the amygdala. We know that the “downstairs” brain controls the emotions we are working to regulate. Whether you are trying to reduce anxiety or increase focus, essential oils can help!

You may still be wondering, How should I use the Move Mindfully Blend?

Self Care:

We have included the roller bottle in our Teacher Gift Kit because this is such a valuable item for your self care toolkit. Try keeping the roller bottle in your desk drawer to apply throughout the day. Options for application include on wrists, over the heart or on the bottoms of the feet. Try rolling onto the palms of your hands and cupping over you nose as you inhale and exhale deeply.

Use with Children:

Use the roller bottle at home with your own children. Try rolling the oil up and down the spine or on the back of the neck before homework time to incase focus. Applied to the bottoms of feet before bedtime can also promote a sense of grounding and relaxation.

using doterra oil with children

At work, utilize essential oils in your break area. We have included Wild Orange and a spray bottle in our be station kitStudents can spray the scented water into the air or on hands for an uplifting sensation. Interested in learning more? Experiment with doTERRA Essential Oils and combine in a roller bottle to create your own signature blend.

 

Note: It is important to know that essential oils are 100% pure plant extract. Fragrance oils are usually synthetic products and therefore do not possess the natural healing properties of essential oils and contain chemicals and other impurities. When purchasing, especially for use around children, please make sure to do research about oil purity. Also please confirm your organization’s policy before using essential oils with children.

Have you used essential oils with children or for your own self care? What’s worked? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Yoga Bingo

Are you looking for a fun, yoga based movement game?

Yoga Based Movement is important for nervous system regulation. Yoga Bingo is a great game to teach these movements and create buy-in from students. It is perfect for morning meeting, guest teachers or Fun Friday. There is a lot to think about when teaching yoga poses and sometimes it can be intimidating to know where to begin! Yoga Bingo is the perfect solution. yoga bingoTo begin, the student leader chooses a movement instruction card, reads the cues and models the pose. The rest of the class follows. Then, just like regular bingo, students cover the pose if it appears on their board. Continue until someone calls, “Yoga Bingo!” The winning student then reads off each pose covered on the game board, while modeling the pose as well.

yoga bingo plank pose

Looking for a moment of sanity with indoor recess? The regular routine out of whack with assemblies and field trips? Students can find it difficult to self regulate when routines are disrupted. Yoga Bingo offered a fun, game-like, approach to our Mindful Movement. Once the game started, the energy shifted and the room calmed. I looked around the room and noticed serious, focused facial expressions. If you want to win, which everyone does, you have to stay focused and know the movements to cover.

yoga bingo pulse count

I especially love that you can get students into a leadership position as the “caller”. I even chose two leaders: one to read the card and one to model the movement. This is a great option if you have a student that isn’t a strong reader or a student that might be hesitant to participate.

If you are looking for another resource to get started, Our Getting Started Kit from our Teachers Pay Teachers store sets the foundation for yoga based movement and other mindfulness practices!

I know I am keeping this effective and easy to implement game on hand! The set includes 30 bingo cards, 26 movement instruction cards and game instructions.

Have you tried yoga based games? Leave a Comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Move Mindfully® 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

doTERRA

Essential Oils can help to promote wellness.

The sense of smell is such a powerful part of limbic system that often gets forgotten.When planning your work with children, do you ever consider sense of smell? I know I would begin by considering my materials visually and then plan for my auditory instruction. If I was having a really good day, I’d throw in a “hands on” component for the sense of touch. However, I think I was missing the mark by not considering sense of smell.

The olfactory bulb, which operates the sense of smell, transmits information directly to the amygdala. We know that the “downstairs” brain controls the emotions we are working to regulate. Whether you are trying to reduce anxiety or increase focus, essential oils can help!

My journey into essential oils began when I purchased essential oils and made a spray for our be station. The students responded so well to the spray that it made me eager to learn more.

Disclaimer

It is important to know that essential oils are 100% pure plant extract. Fragrance oils are usually synthetic products and therefore do not possess the natural healing properties of essential oils and contain chemicals and other impurities. When purchasing, especially for use around children, please make sure to do research about oil purity. We recommend doTERRA Essential Oils. Then, make sure you consult your site policy on using essential oils for personal use and with children.

doTERRA

Next, I experimented with lavender, peppermint, orange and lemon. I began by introducing each scent and letting the students smell the oil from the bottle. It was fun to have them close their eyes and try to guess the scent!

Smelling Essential Oils
My personal favorite is the mild and versatile wild orange. I combined the orange with peppermint for standardized testing. I know it sounds like an odd combination, but it was lovely! It is said to increase focus and clarity.

To end the week, I combined lemon and orange for a citrus blast. Students noticed the scent as soon as they walked in the door. One of my most anxious students said, “Can I sit here at the back table so I can be near the diffuser”? There were meandering paths past the diffuser throughout the day and audible “ahh”s after a long inhale.

However, essential oils are not just for good smells. Diffusing can eliminate airborne pathogens. A bonus this time of year when we are all trying to stay healthy.

Essential oils can also be an important component for teacher self care. Having the diffuser near my workspace helped me stay calm, focused and in an overall good mood. One day, I was suffering from a horrible headache due to seasonal allergies. I didn’t have any aspirin at school, so I used a drop of peppermint and rubbed it behind each ear. At first, the sensation was pretty overwhelming. However, after a minute, I felt my “fog” lift! The instantaneous result was amazing.

1000 Petals and doTERRA

diffusers in the classroom

We have created a Move Mindfully® Blend in a roller bottle for topical use that is grounding and uplifting! We also offer Wild Orange Spray in our be Station Kit. Check out our doTERRA website to learn more about using essential oils and home and with children.

Have you tried essential oils? Which oils have children responded to? 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

A Boy and a Bear and Leadership

“While we teach, we learn.” – Seneca

This philosophy can be used as the foundation to extend breathing techniques and mindfulness practices within your school.

Leaders at Assemblies

A great strategy for encouraging school wide implementation of Move Mindfully® is with student leaders. Assemblies offer the perfect opportunity to reach the entire student body. Try leading a “mindful moment” at an assembly. Simply start with having everyone follow along with Belly Breathing found in the Move Mindfully® Card Deck.

Mindful Moment at Assemblies

Feeling more adventurous? Add in some movement like our Calming Routine. It can be incredibly impactful to see an entire school community breath and move together.

Schoolwide Movement

If you are in a middle or high school setting that utilizes daily announcements, this can also serve as an opportunity to model some mindfulness practices. See an example here.

Leaders as Big Buddies

Another idea to bring this work school wide is to use “big buddies” as role models. A Boy and A Bear, a book from our store, introduces calming breaths to younger children.

A boy and a bear

Not only will you be addressing ELA standards with expression and fluency, but students will also have a self-esteem boost being in a leadership role. After reading, this book is a great tool to keep in your be. station!

Another way to get started would be with this math lesson plan from our Teachers Pay Teachers store to introduce slow, rhythmic breathing. Student leaders can be a math and mindfulness tutor!

big buddies reading

Could your students teach others the benefit of breathing? Leave a comment!

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly

Mindful Moment Cards

“How was your weekend?”

A phrase that most of us mindlessly utter on Monday morning can be a fairly loaded question. Teachers, mostly white middle class women, come into the classroom with a cultural identity and, knowingly or unknowingly, expect conformity from our students. How does this play out in simple social exchanges?

How about a sharing time, such as morning meeting? Share your favorite TV show (assumes you own a television), share your favorite ice cream (assumes there is money to buy treats)… you get the idea. So, what’s a teacher to ask?

Mindful Moment Cards

Mindful Moment Cards by Lynea Gillen offer an opportunity for personal sharing (either verbally or written response) that are free from cultural bias.

mindful moment cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each morning I choose one card to read aloud during our morning meeting.

morning meeting schedule

Then, we go around the circle, pass the sharing rope and respond to the Mindful Moment Card. Try a few out with these Mindful Moment Card Samples.

Sharing in circle time

Examples of Use

One morning the prompt was, “Share your color of calm”.  A boy said, “Orange is calm because I like to cuddle in my bed and read Garfield.” Later in the week, when he was struggling, I asked him, “What strategies do you have to find calm?” He responded, “Breathe in orange.” It was a question that anyone from any cultural background could answer. It allowed us to get to know him on a deeper level AND it provided him with a tool for self regulation. Seems a whole lot better than “How was your weekend?”

teacher modeling sharing

Another morning the prompt was, “Say the name of someone who really listens to you.” The rope made its way around the circle to a boy… who froze. Saying nothing. Blank face. One minute passed. I stood up, sat behind him and placed my hand on his back. The girls on both sides of him placed their hands on his shoulders. Five minutes passed. Total silence. It was excruciating. However, it was also beautiful. Finally, I “pulled the plug” since we were already late for music. The class left the room and the boy remained. After another thirty minutes, he walked over to me and  said the name of a girl in our class. One of the girls who had touched his shoulder during his freeze. I walked him back to the group, where he shared out her name. The class applauded.

I still am not quite sure what exactly happened. Or why it happened. All I know is that we had a moment. Those five minutes in time, looking back, will come to define us as a group. These questions run deep…

Please leave comment! What questions, either from the Mindful Moments Cards, or from your own creation, have had a impact?

Be Well,
Stephanie Kennelly