Building Community and Trust Walk

Are you thinking of fun ways to build community in your classroom? Trust Walk is a quick and easy Morning Meeting essential!

Students begin by choosing a partner. One partner will be the leader and the other, the follower. The follower closes his eyes and presents an index finger. The leader then leads the follower, with eyes closed and voices off, around the classroom. That’s it! That’s the game!

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However, there are many social emotional layers involved that make this game a student and teacher favorite.

We begin the activity with a discussion about the importance of body connection and communication. Without the sense of sight or sound, students must rely on sense of touch and body language.

After the activity, the followers were able to give compliments and specific feedback about what made a good leader. The follower extends an index finger, but the leader is able to choose how they will connect. Most students agreed that another hand supporting the wrist made the follower feel safe. Also, the speed of movement and careful turns made the follower feel comfortable.

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Then, the leaders share the factors that influenced their decisions. For example, watching the followers facial expressions gave clues about their comfort level. Was your partner smiling, maybe even giggling? Did your partner have furrowed eye brows? These discussions, of course, are also a metaphor for the social emotional connections happening in your classroom. Feeling safe, comfortable, and watching body cues are all important building blocks for a solid community.

Then, the partners switch. The leader becomes the follower and the follower becomes the leader. Who liked being the leader? Who liked being the follower? What did you like most about this game? What did you like least? How these questions are answered will tell you a lot about your classroom dynamics.

Here is another twist. I had the students form two lines, facing one another. One line closed their eyes and extended a finger. They were the followers. Then, the other line became the leaders and chose a follower! The followers did not know who was leading them. I once even said, “Choose someone who will be totally surprised that you chose them”, meaning, do not chose your best friend. It was fun to see the different partner combinations that emerged. When the round was over, before the follower opened their eyes, they had to guess. Once you have a community established, this is a fun way to see how in tune with each other your students have become.

Finally, for one more layer, add in a sensory adventure. The leaders presented the followers with various classroom objects. With only an index finger touch, the follower would have to guess the object. An eraser, a pencil, a chair! You could try this with items from your sensory/science table. It could be an anticipatory set for introducing artifacts or building vocabulary and background.

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Are you thinking about ways to build community through social emotional games? Would you play Trust Walk with your students? Leave a Comment!

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Educating heart, mind and body,

Stephanie Kennelly

Yoga Bingo and Games

Are you working with students this summer and looking for a fun, movement based, activity? Or maybe you are already thinking about your first six weeks of school! Our Yoga Bingo cards offer an easy way to get everyone involved practicing yoga poses.

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 great because the students are the leaders!

The leader chooses a movement instruction card, reads the cues and modes the pose. The rest of the class follows. Then, just like regular bingo, students will 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.

I loved using Yoga Bingo at the end of the year when the energy was crazy. My little yogis were finding it difficult to regulate with our normal routines. 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 poses to cover.

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 pose. 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 in the poses.

This activity would be great at the beginning of the year when you are working to develop vocabulary and teach the pose names. Also, it would be great to leave for a guest teacher.

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. Click here to buy it from our store.

Have you tried yoga based games? Do you think you could use this game in your work? Leave a Comment!

Educating through mindfulness and movement,
Stephanie Kennelly

Yoga and Boys: 4 Ways Yoga Improves the Lives of Adolescent Boys

The stereotype of who can “do yoga” is drastically changing. I enjoyed watching pre-season NFL intro packages of Aaron Rodgers training through hot yoga sessions. I have even seen articles pop up on my newsfeed of professional bodybuilders adding yoga into the routine and seeing amazing physical results. These images help solidify the knowledge that yoga is not only a feminine sport and is accessible for all genders!

Professional and ametur atheletes alike will toute the physical benefits of yoga. This year I have been teaching my third graders in West Saint Paul, Minnesota the joy of yoga by integrating techniques into daily instruction. Yoga, not only improved physical health, but also the social and emotional well being of my boys.

I was shocked how the boys, pre-adolescent and testosterone brewing, took the yoga practice so very seriously. Not only was I seeing behavior changes in the classroom, but parents were also reporting behavior changes at home. I was overwhelmed during parent teacher conferences with the feedback from parents on the social emotional well being of their boys. These are their quotes.

Here are four reasons why you should implement yoga with your pre-adolescent boys.

Yoga is a tool for anger management.

“It has been great to see my son be able to calm and center himself when needed using volcano breaths. It helps him find focus during times that might otherwise lead to escalation and a meltdown.”

“He’s able to walk away when he gets worked up, breathe through his emotions, and come back much clearer and with action items.”

“He has used breathing techniques and yoga poses when he feels tension to control the stressful moment.”

 

Yoga can reduce anxiety.

“Every student needs anxiety management tools every now and then. I hope learning these techniques this year will give him a leg up in that regard that he can rely on for years to come.”

“My son’s anxiety levels have significantly decreased over the course of this school year. I’d say his most used tactic is breathing and getting himself centered.”

“I frequently catch my son closing his eyes and practice deep breathing skills. It’s  taught him to relax when he’s feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.”

“My son has learned the impact of his breath and how it affects both his body and mind. That the breath can control anxiety.”

“I also think that since learning how to do guided meditations in the classroom, he falls asleep more quickly at night.”

 

Yoga brings families together.

“My son has even taught his own parents techniques to keep calm and having good control over your attention during the present moment. Witnessing him slow down and use mindfulness is quite amazing to see as a parent.”

“It’s great having a partner to practice yoga with also!”

 

Yoga increases motivation and optimism.

“He has had his most successful year in school and enjoys going more than ever. I believe very strongly that this has to do with what he has learned!”

“Teaching kids at a young age to implement this into their life growing into adults, has so many positive benefits!”

 

In my ten years of teaching, yoga has been the best tool I have found for teaching social emotional skills to my boys. By nature, boys are less verbal than girls, so providing a physical pathway has been incredibly powerful.

Are you interested in receiving weekly tips and lessons to teach social emotional (and academic!) lessons through mindful movement? Email me to learn more!

What results have you seen with yoga and boys? Leave a comment!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,

Stephanie Kennelly

Yoga Calm and Interventions for Teachers

“Teaching is not what it used to be,” says a 40-year veteran teacher at my building. I’ve been around for 10 years, but I can agree, things have changed a lot in the past decade. It’s hard to articulate exactly what the change is or where it’s coming from. However, I think most teachers can agree that things are increasingly more… stressful.

Passing in the hallway, an appropriate greeting consists of a grunt or at best, “It’s Friday.” Conversations in the staff lounge center around the uncertainties and anxiety facing our teaching profession from the greater political cultural climate. A recent survey cited 51% of teachers feel significant stress at work several times a week. While technology and innovation have considerable benefits, the new skills and information we are expected to personally process and then apply to our instruction, has teachers feeling like hamsters on a wheel. Not to mention the data on us! Teacher performance is being continually monitored and tracked by standardized testing.

As I sit at my back table, administering a reading test, I look up and see the little girl sitting in front of me. Except, I see her, seeing me. Hunched shoulders. Furrowed brows. Clenched jaw. My body communicates what my brain can’t fully comprehend. I am stressed. Much to my surprise and horror… her body language was matching mine. She was mirroring me.

This realization hit me hard. I noticed students all around exhibiting stress signals. Hiding under tables. Making excuses to leave the classroom and wander the halls. Destroying classroom supplies. These behaviors were symptoms of emotional turmoil, and it was standing in the way of students achieving their academic potential.

Now, I know that many of these issues are complex and multilayered. I am by no means blaming teachers for all behavioral problems. However, the first step to an emotionally regulated classroom is to be emotionally regulated yourself.

YOU are the intervention

The good news is, even if your brain is not yet convinced, you can begin with your body.

Here are three tips to get started.

1.Set an intention for the day for yourself and your classroom

Before you get out of bed, think about how you want to show up today. Words like strong, healthy, at ease, organized, peaceful. Imagine what it looks like and feels like. Now imagine the one thing that would make your classroom great today. This intention could be, “students working well together in pairs” or “excitement for a new project.” Visualize these intentions then write them down. I have found that writing an intention down and visualizing the outcome takes less than a minute. However, most days, this fortune actually comes to fruition. A worthy time investment.

2. Take a breathing break

Teachers never stop. Heck, we usually don’t even slow down. I have seen teachers eating their lunch while walking down the hallway! During your prep, your lunch, transitions between classes… intentionally take 5–10 breaths. Inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts. I even like to close my eyes and bring back my intention from the morning.

3. Unwind your nervous system

Good ol’ fight or flight. Your body doesn’t know if you are running away from a hungry predator or if you are preparing to be observed by your principal. All it knows, is it’s time to send in the stress hormones! Your frontal cortex can’t talk its way out of this response. “Body, I am not being chased by a predator, it’s just my annual observation.” However, there are key trigger points in the body that activate when the sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This means, if we can release the body, the brain will believe that everything is okay.

Jaw:

Inhale breath and when you exhale stick out your tongue. For added effect add a nice long “hah” sound. I even like to massage the opening that is created next to my ears while my jaw is open.

Eyes:

Rub your hands together to create heat and place them on your eyes. And/or gently smooth out the brow line from center to outer eye, say to yourself “soft eyes”. (Yes, unfurrow that teacher brow.)

Shoulders:

Interlace fingers behind your back for a chest expansion and take three slow deep breaths. Teachers spend a great deal of time hunched over students, and simply opening the shoulders can be a total mood changer.

Hip Flexors:

Lunge back with right foot and left foot forward in a bent knee lunge, take a few breaths, then switch sides. Your hip flexors and psoas are your flight muscles, so release them!

I began to realize that same little girl, mirroring my furrowed brow and hunched shoulders, began to mirror my deep breathing. When doing a backbend stretch during a transition she commented, “It feels good to stretch, doesn’t it?” Yes. It does.

This isn’t the magic bullet. However, when we release the tension and anxiety held in the body, we are able to be present. The present moment has no stress. This intervention for your body is an important first step for creating a peaceful classroom for your students.

As I began this boy work, I noticed other things around me begin to shift. I realized that being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing. I changed my focus and redefined what was important.

Have you tried any self interventions? What has worked? Leave a comment!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,

Stephanie Kennelly

Closing the Year and Compliments

In India, people use the sanskrit word, Namaste, as a greeting. It has a few translations, but a common one is “the teacher in me, honors the teacher in you.” As a classroom teacher, I appreciate this. My core value as an educator centers on the idea that students and teachers are on a journey together. Learning is a dynamic dance of give and take, not a one-sided process of receiving information.

As the year comes to a close and I look around my classroom, I see the artifacts of academics. The Mayan Temple, the diagram of the solar system, the poster of geometric shapes. I reflect on the hours of planning and preparation that went into my instruction. I also think about what I have learned this year. I think about what my students have taught me. I think about bravery.

I think about a student who was incredibly shy. English is her second language and she was self-conscious about possible mistakes. At the beginning of the school year, she wouldn’t share more than one-word answers. At lunch, she would sit and listen, never directly responding to conversations.

Around mid-year, I gave her a journal. By the end of the month, she had filled every single page. So, I gave her another journal… and she filled that too! One day, she asked me if she could share some of her writing. With a clear and confident voice, she read a poem she’d written. It was beautiful. I showered her with praise and through a smile she said, “Writing makes me feel brave.”

Reflecting on this student, I felt the need to share with her what she had taught me. However, my thoughts began to multiply as I realized every student had somehow made an impact on me. We had all made contributions to each other. They needed to be recognized. From here, I launched a class-wide compliment challenge: write a high-quality compliment for each student in class.

This got me thinking… what makes a good compliment?

I began by bringing the class to a place of stillness. With our eyes closed, we envisioned our community. The healthy relationships we had built over the year rested on communication, teamwork, and social engagement.

 

Working through the CASEL standards for social emotional learning, students were able to demonstrate their understanding of community. I brought in the ELA standards and connected the compliments to the character traits we had been applying during our literacy block.

To teach the compliment process, I used the acronym “ACT.”

A is for ACTION
Think of a specific positive action you observed.
“I observed Nora return her library books.”

C is for CHARACTER TRAIT
Think of a character trait that would describe someone acting that way.
“Nora is responsible.”

T is for TEACH Me
Think about what that action can teach you.
“This taught me the importance of staying organized.”

“Nora, I noticed that you always return your library books. I appreciate your responsibility and it has taught me the importance of staying organized.”

My students crafted compliments for each other using this technique. I encourage you to give it a try as a way to honor students. Take the time and make space to give and receive meaningful compliments. Life as a teacher begins the day you realize you are a learner along with your students.

Here is the compliment I wrote to my writer:
I see before me a girl with a story to share. I watched as you filled two notebooks with your writing. I notice you are always listening. You are always thinking and aware of the world around you. When you shared your writing in front of the class, I connected with your bravery. You taught me the importance of sharing my story. You inspired me to rediscover my love of writing. You taught me to be brave.
Love, Mrs. Kennelly

As I watch the bus pull out of the parking lot, I see my students’ smiling faces through the window. I am thankful for how much I have learned this year. The teacher in me, honors the teacher in you.

Have you used compliments? How did you close the year? Leave a Comment!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Yoga Calm and Their Words

I look at the calendar in disbelief. It is June! As I try to wrap up the school year, I think back to all of the words I have written describing the impact of Yoga Calm on my students. This week, I turned the tables and asked my students to write. I asked, “what have you learned this year and what is the lasting impact?” Here are their words. Enjoy!

Mindfulness is important for many things, especially school. When you’re listening to directions you have to focus on who is talking. One way I practice mindfulness is through focusing on yoga poses. In order to be present you have to be mindful of what you are doing. I stay calm. I can appreciate the world around me. Have you ever watched a snowflake fall to the ground?

 

 

In our class we practice yoga, use the breathing ball and relaxation station. First, yoga helps me focus on what I am trying to do. My favorite yoga pose is the tree pose because it helps me calm down and listen. Using the breathing ball helps me stay grounded after moments of craziness. I like to visit the relaxation station at times when I feel off. I get to put on headphones, use the breathing ball, look at rocks and lay down with blankets and pillows. It is a gift to have such focus and calmness together. Find your power, your rhythm and your worries disappear!

 

 

Yoga has helped me be a calmer person. For example if I get frustrated I will take five deep breaths and feel better. Being mindful when you eat can be quite interesting. It is amazing how being calm can make you see things in a different way. When I’m grounded my feet are flat on the floor and my hands get heavy. Being grounded can help me stay focused and relaxed. For example if there is a big test or something big coming up that I would get nervous for, being grounded takes away that nervousness.

 

 

In our class we have worked on mindfulness activities. Our minds should be on what we’re doing, not what we are going to do or what we did. Keep your mind in the present. Forward folds helped me stay positive. I use forward fold when I feel like the whole world is depending on me. I know that everybody could use this one little thing.

 

 

If you are reading this, I know that I am probably preaching to the choir. However, I can’t wrap up the year without giving one final plea. Hopefully these words have solidified your belief that this is important work. This isn’t one more thing… it is THE thing. We owe it to our children. Do you have a short anecdote to share? Please leave a comment.
Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Move Mindfully Card Deck and Choice

As the number of days left remaining in the school year quickly approach the single digits, I am using every ounce of effort to stay grounded. Did I leave my water bottle somewhere? Shoot, I forgot to write the newsletter! I’m not sure if I’ll have the projects ready to present by Friday. I see my students feeling increasingly scattered as well.

This week, I am using a new 1000-Petals product, the Move Mindfully Card Deck  as a reminder to check in with the body. It keeps the movement fresh and interesting by allowing for student choice and creativity.

The deck contains a card featuring an image of each pose. The back of the card lists the pose name, a positive affirmation and a cue into the pose for every principle.

 


Here are a few ways we have used the deck.

 

Whole Class
I started by spreading out the cards on my table. In invited my yoga leader back to choose 5-10 cards and create a routine. I was amazed, that without prompting, all of the leaders were able to create routines that followed a few basic principles. Begin with breath, then movement such as a balance pose followed by a forward fold, and end in a resting pose. They had internalized this flow without even knowing it! We know as educators that giving choice is incredibly motivating. It was so powerful for the leaders to create a routine.

 

 

Note: As the teacher, feel free to move cards around as needed in the sequence or offer less options.

 

I took a picture of the routine on my iPad and using AirPlay, projected the image onto the TV. From there, the cards could then be turned over, word side up.

 

 

Next, I chose two additional leaders. Once student led the poses in the font of the class and the other gave the verbal cues on the back of the card, starting with the pose name and affirmation. When reading the cues, choose one principle as a theme. I also like going through the routine twice, since there will be more success the second time around.

 

 

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
The teachers and paraprofessionals working with individual students found the deck beneficial as well!

A first grade student chose three poses in the morning. Then, throughout the day, the teacher would reference the poses to encourage body regulation.

 

      

 

Here is what our 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
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.
The card deck is an amazing tool to build customizable routines, help regulate individual students and provide non-verbal instruction on the go!

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

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Spring Energy and Shaking

Every spring, I feel like the Earth begins to vibrate. Frogs and birds and singing, rain and thunder fill the sky, and kids get crazy! We seem to have lots to see and lots to do.


Somewhere between excitement and apprehension, students leave the safe havens of school for the great unknown the summer and subsequent school year bring.

So, what’s a classroom teacher to do? I have written a lot this year about slowing down and finding calm. However, when the body has excess energy, holding it inside can be detrimental. Instead of calming, the students need releasing movements. This week we explored shaking!

Let’s start by looking at the biology. Why do humans shake? It can be an involuntary result activated by the flight or fight system. During anxiety, the body is flooded with adrenaline and the body shakes as a result. Have you ever felt so nervous, excited or angry that your body began to shake? This is the nervous system releasing the extra adrenaline.

We see this in the animal world all the time. Dogs will shake to signal to another dog that they are done playing. Also, next time you take your dog to the vet, notice what he does as soon as he gets off of the exam table. Chances are, he’ll shake. It is a “reset” button of sorts.

We also see shaking throughout history. Many groups of people have used shaking as a core cultural practice. Pop culture also knows the importance of shaking! Just ask Taylor Swift who is “shaking it off” or Peaches and Herb who are “shaking their groove thing”.

However, somewhere along the way, shaking has been seen as a weakness. As a sign that you have lost control. However, if this adrenaline is not released, then the brain will continue to receive signals that the body is under attack, which can cause a vicious cycle.

This week I attempted to bring shaking into my classroom and normalize the release. Here’s how-

First, you will need to get shakers. You can purchase a variety of shakers, however I recommend that you make your own! All you need is plastic Easter Eggs and beans. Better yet, let your students make and decorate their own shakers!

I began by having the students get grounded in mountain pose. Then, they shook their egg for three minutes. This may seem like a long time, but I have found that it takes at least 1 minute to get into a “groove”. Students shake their entire body and let go of anything that doesn’t serve them.

Then, when it is time to stop, the students sway back and forth and finally find one minute of stillness. One student explained it as, “I feel like I’m the glitter jar  and all of my atoms are settling at the bottom”. Coming back to where we started, in mountain, the students can feel the change.

The next times we did this activity, I experimented with different music. I tried the “Drums of the Islands Radio” Pandora station. This provided a great beat for students who were maybe a little shy to shake the first time around. I also played some pop songs like “Sing” by Pentatonix for a livelier, dancing feel.

Finally, I brought shaking to our morning meeting activity. Students sat in the circle, with ever other student holding a shaker. The pattern was, “knees, knees, clap, clap, pass…, it…” The shakers were passed from one student to the other around the circle (see video here) . Once they found a rhythm, it became meditative. Also, it was a great way to focus our energy and work as a team.

Want to learn more about how medical professionals are using shaking to address trauma? In clinical settings, TRE® (Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercise) has been used to assist the body in releasing deep muscular patterns of stress, tension and trauma. When this muscular shaking/vibrating mechanism is activated in a safe and controlled environment, the body is encouraged to return back to a state of balance.

Have you tried shaking? What benefits do you see in students using shaking for tension release? Leave a comment!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Happiness Recipe and Final Relaxation

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

I posed this question to my students and had them fill out the Happiness Recipe Worksheet. 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. “Huh. 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?

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

We have been using The Boat Ride as a scripted relaxation. Here is the related audio journey 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.

Students shared the document to an online digital portfolio and recorded their voices reading the script.

Now, students have a personalized final relaxation. They are able to access the audio with an iPad and 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.”

Here is a sample of the audio recording.
Have you used relaxation scripts? Have you tried personalization? What’s worked well? Please leave a comment!
Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Back Drawing and Geometry

After the birth of my first son, I took a baby massage class. The teacher talked about the importance of touch for facilitation of growth and development. There are scientific studies, with rats and humans alike, that verify touch helps regulate stress responses.

However, our cultural space bubble seems to be growing exponentially as people become increasingly disconnected. I was even coached in teacher training to turn to the side and extend an arm, Heisman Trophy style, if a child were to approach wanting a (gasp) hug!

I decided this week, to bring back touch, and teach back drawing.

It is important to note that I began this exercise with the disclaimer, “If you chose not to be touched today, you can sit outside the circle and draw on your own arm or hand”. This allows for students to still participate and obtain kinesthetic input, while operating in their comfort zone. For the first introduction, I had three students opt out. By the end of the week, all were voluntarily participating.

I began by getting students familiar and comfortable with touch. We sat in a circle, facing our neighbors back, and put one finger on the back in front of us. I talked about the appropriate amount of pressure. We then moved a finger around the back, spelling our names, drawing rain and clouds, sunshine and rainbows. Our first session I had them end by writing a wish they had for our community. On subsequent days they wrote a compliment for the person they were touching. During the activity it was pin drop quiet. Everyone was fully engaged. Giving and receiving healing touch.

Now that I had buy in, I added in our math standards. Our team uses geometry sorts to teach properties of polygons. The students received a card with a shape, either a polygon or not a polygon. They drew this shape on their partner’s back. Their partner would guess- “polygon or not a polygon” and explain why. “It is a closed figure with straight lines” or “It is an open figure with curved lines…” etc.

This activity not only reinforces the academic standards using kinesthetic learning strategies, but also connects students with each other through appropriate touch. I have found that children seek touch. If they are not given an opportunity for and instruction on appropriate touch, they will inevitably choose inappropriate touch. If we frame the conversation from the beginning, students will have their physical needs met with socially appropriate input.

Have you used back drawing? How did the students respond? Have you tried to teach geometry with partner touch? Leave a comment!

Educating Heart, Mind and Body,
Stephanie Kennelly

Do you have a story to share? Email stephanie@1000-petals.com to be a guest blogger!