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Moana – A mindfulness and relaxation lesson plan

Moana Mindfulness lesson planI recently saw the latest Disney “princess” film Moana with my children…

Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect, there is always so much hype when a new Disney princess is born. Those of you who know me will know by now that I’m a sucker for a good Disney film but there are so many and there seems to be a new princess born every other week.

I don’t know why I doubted Disney though. I was completely blown away by the message of this film. Long gone are the days of Snow White and Cinderella. We are no longer giving our daughters down trodden, manipulated women whose sole ambition is to find a suitable husband and get married. This generation of girls have role models like Merida (Brave), Else and Anna (Frozen) and Tiana (The Princess and the Frog). Independent women. I was impressed when the “need” for a husband to fulfil you seemed to fade and we had women of independent means who controlled their own destiny. Moana takes this message a step further and, thankfully, doesn’t even mention any interest in romance. She is a strong, courageous Chief who makes brave choices and survives an amazing adventure to save her island.

What has this got to do with mindfulness?

As I watched I couldn’t help thinking what a great relaxation lesson this story would make. There are so many amazing themes.

So I have made one for you.

I have intentionally created a simple, age appropriate lesson for you to enjoy as a calming treat with your class.

If you would like to download this gift you can grab your copy here:

Moana

 

If you enjoy this lesson why not take a look at my other lesson plans and make mindfulness a regular part of your timetable.

 

6 Ways to Introduce Gratitude in your School

6 Ways to Introduce Gratitude in your School

 

Gratitude is a word which is used a lot these days, particularly in alternative and new age circles, but what does it really mean?

Well, it is about being grateful. Grateful for; what you have, for the people in your life and for the opportunities your have been given.

Why is gratitude a magical thing to introduce into your school?

Well, there are lots of reasons. It’s so easy to focus on the things we don’t achieve. The media are always very quick to jump on failure but rarely look at all the amazing things happening in the world. We as humans seem to be pre-programmed to dwell on our inefficiencies and almost ignore our triumphs. Gratitude is a great way to reset the balance a little.

It is a basic human emotion to be thankful for the things we have. But in the modern world, we increasingly take basic things such as food and shelter for granted. Teaching children to be grateful can only be a good thing, even if it only helps them to put into perspective the fact that “everyone else” has the latest gadget and they don’t!

It is also proven to increase happiness considerably (if you want to read some science you can do so here.) Happier children are more confident, more cooperative, are less likely to be influenced by others and, importantly for schools these days, they achieve more.

How can you encourage an “attitude of gratitude” in your school?

Gratitude JarHere are some of my favourite ways:

  • Gratitude Jars – This is one of my favourite things in the whole world. You have probably seen it on social media at this time of year. It is so simple but so effective. All you need is a container and some scraps of paper. Simply write a little note every time something happens which you are grateful for. “I am so proud of the whole class because they were so well behaved on the school trip today”, “I am delighted that Sarah wrote her name for the first time” whatever it might be. Write it down, date it and pop it in the jar. You can write them all or you can allow the children to pop their own notes in too. Then when you are feeling like nothing is going right or at the end of term, read through some of the achievements in your jar.
  • Gratitude Journals – Similar to the Gratitude Jar, but this involves each child writing three things they are grateful for in a book or journal every day. This helps older children to really look at what makes them happy and how others are helping them in their daily lives.
  • Gratitude Display – Why not make a display of all the things your class are grateful for at the start of the term? Write thank you letters to someone who has done something special for them. Have your gratitude big and bold in your room.
  • Staff Gratitude Display – Many schools are now including a display in the staffroom where teachers and support staff can thank other members of the school for their help or for an action which really helped them.
  • Random Acts of Kindness – Why not choose one child or member of staff every week to receive a random act of kindness? It may be a little note saying something positive or a small gift.
  • Circle Time Games – Circle time is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude. You can ask each child to thank another member of the class for something. Give them an chance to say thank you for something that has happened to them or something they have received. Encourage them to think about all the amazing things they have which many children do not.

I hope this will give you a few ideas for how you can encourage your school to be more grateful. Start with yourself. Why not start a gratitude journal? It will begin to have an impact on you, your classroom and on the school.

I am very grateful that you have taken the time to read this post. I am thankful to everyone who takes something away and implements it in their school.

Thank you x 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

We're going on a bear huntI love “We’re Going on a bear Hunt”! I first came across the folk song as a Brownie in the early 80’s (I know I’m getting old!) when we we would sing it on coach trips and round the campfire. So when I started teaching in the 90’s and discovered that it had been made into a beautiful children’s book in the late 80’s I was delighted. It was one of my favourite books to read to classes when I was teaching. When I had my own children we would read it and sing it and sing it and read it. We went across Cannock Chase on our own bear hunts. There is something mesmerising about the repetitive onamatapoeic language. It is perfect for teaching children so many aspects of language.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that this wonderful story had been made into an animation. Even my daughter (who is now 12 years old) is excited about sitting and watching it on Christmas Eve with her cousin. (My niece is only 2 years old and the perfect excuse for us to watch it – if we needed one!).

Would you like a magical “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” mindfulness lesson plan?

Given my love of this folk song and story I couldn’t resist creating a relaxation lesson plan for you. Classrooms all over the UK and probably the world, will be buzzing with the swishy swashy sound of teachers reading this magical story.

Treat yourself and your class to a wonderfully relaxing lesson. Teach them some mindfulness skills for life and have fun at the same time.

You can get your copy lesson plan for less than a cup of coffee, what are you waiting for?

 

Can Mindfulness Really Help Children with SEND?

mindfulness-and-sendThe use of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, or MBCT to support and aid children with SEND has been studied for several years now. This is a complex and very varied subject but I felt you might benefit from me bringing together some helpful information and studies on the subject. I hope to help you make an informed decision about the children you are working with.

Anyone who has ever worked with children knows that to give a blanket “this always works” response to any issue is a huge mistake. All children are different. All will respond very differently to the approaches we try. Having a few generalities can be helpful though so we know what it is worth trying.

ADHD and Mindfulness

Are you affected by ADHD and want to know more about using mindfulness? These articles are a wonderful starting point.

Mindfullyadd

http://psychcentral.com/lib/mindfulness-skills-useful-in-addressing-adhd/

Suffice to say that it has been proven that 8 out of 10 people felt that they were less affected by the condition after they embarked on a programme of mindfulness.

ASD and Mindfulness

When affected by ASD a person will often struggle to shut off their internal monologue. They may get stuck in the “doing” mode of life. By encouraging mindfulness we can enables them to feel more comfortable in the “being” mode.

For more information please read:

Autismandmindfulness.org

I hope you will find this a valuable resource, it gives a list to many sources of information and research.

Research Autism

Other conditions

Interestingly there is now considerable evidence that mindfulness benefits conditions as diverse as eating disorders, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue. It is also shown to improve relationships and improved self esteem.

If you are interested in this subject or there are specific conditions you would like information regarding, let me know and I will guide you as best I can or point you in the direction of more research materials. I am acutely aware that however many conditions I include in a post like this there will be people who feel I have missed their condition. I have focused on the most popular issues in schools. I would love to help you if you have specific questions or needs that you require help with.

 

 

 

Glad to be Dan – a mindfulness book review

Glad to be Dan - cover

Those of you who know me are already aware of my love of books, particularly children’s books. Imagine my joy then when Jo Howarth got in touch and asked whether I would be happy to review the new book. She has written Glad to be Dan with Jude Lennon and it is lovely.

This book is a triple whammy for me!

  • It’s a children’s book – tick.
  • It is a book about mindfulness – tick.
  • The main character is called Dan (my son’s name) – BIG TICK!

So when it arrived in the post I was delighted to discover that this book is everything I could have wanted it to be and more.

It is a picture book which has been beautifully illustrated by Trev Howarth. Deeper discussions would inevitably come from this book with older children, it is definitely suitable for the whole primary range. I would suggest possibly even into secondary schools too as a starting point for dialogue about negative emotions and mindfulness.

The story of Dan is a familiar one. He is fed up, anxious, angry and generally struggling to see the positives in life.

jo-howarthWhat I love though is that this book doesn’t just giving wishy washy solutions to his woes. This book gives practical ideas to help over come these negative emotions. Better still, it explains these techniques not only as part of the story but in greater detail at the back of the book.

If you are looking for a gentle and accessible way to introduce mindfulness to your children, at school or at home, this is the perfect starting point.

It will definitely be staying in my “toolbox” for schools and sessions in general now. I just wish that I had written it.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to get a copy yourself you can buy your copy here.

* Disclaimer – I did not receive any financial incentive for writing this review, nor is this an affiliate link. I received a complementary copy of the book so I could review it.

Romans Mindfulness Lesson Plan

Romans Lesson PlanThis Romans Mindfulness lesson plan has taken more creating than previous plans. It was a request from a lovely teacher who is doing Romans with her class this term and wanted to include some mindfulness and relaxation. It isn’t a topic which naturally lends itself to relaxation but I hope you will agree that is has turned out surprisingly well considering!

The lesson is probably best done in a large space such as a school hall and is suitable for everyone, including staff.

It is based around a totally fictitious morning in the life of Julius Caesar and even drops a little mythology in for good measure. The relaxation and mindfulness techniques are incorporated into the story in the form of typically Roman images such as viaducts and soldiers but it is in no way a history lesson.

My class loved, loved, LOVED this! 

Gayle Margaret – Class Teacher

If you would like to download your free copy to use with your children simply click the link below:

Romans – Relaxation Lesson Plan

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I now have a wide range of lesson plans for the whole Early Years and Primary age range available in my shop. Please take a look if you have found this lesson helpful.

 

Star Wars Mindfulness Lesson Plan

Star Wars Mindfulness LessonI love creating resources for teachers to use with their classes but every so often one really makes me smile. My son is Star Wars mad and I just know that I will be doing this one when he gets home from school tonight. A Star Wars Mindfulness Lesson Plan might not be your first thought when you think of these epic films but believe me, Star Wars is very spiritual if you look at it in the right way, more importantly kids, particularly boys, love it!

If ever a lesson plan is going to engage your Y4/5 boys this is the one (obviously it will engage lots of other children of different ages too, but that age group are particularly challenging when it comes to relaxation and taking self care seriously I find).

I have made sure I have included lots of characters which I hope will appeal to boys and girls alike.

Star Wars – relaxation lesson

 

I now have a wide range of lesson plans for the whole Early Years and Primary age range available in my shop. Please take a look if you have found this lesson helpful.

 

 

Inside Out Mindfulness Lesson Plan

Inside Out Lesson PlanInside Out, Disney Pixar’s award winning animated film and one of the most popular films of 2015, is a fabulous film for introducing the idea of emotions and “the little voices in your head” to children.  In addition to that it does a wonderful job of simplifying the changes that everyone experiences when growing up. More importantly than all that, children LOVE it! What could be more fun than treating your class to an Inside Out Mindfulness Lesson?

It is also a wonderful place to begin introducing mindfulness to children. By creating a simple script and teaching the children a few simple breathing techniques, yoga poses and tai chi moves, children can enjoy this wonderful story in a much more calm and relaxed way.

Whether you are new to mindfulness, relaxation and yoga or you are a seasoned yogi and meditator you can access these easy relaxation techniques for yourself and your children and add an element of calm to your working day.

If you teach children of primary age or you work with young children in any capacity, you can download my free Inside Out Mindfulness Lesson Plan by clicking the link below:

Inside Out – Relaxation Lesson Plan

 

I now have a wide range of lesson plans for the whole Early Years and Primary age range available in my shop. Please take a look if you have found this lesson helpful.

 

 

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE – a relaxation lesson

Where the wild things are relaxation lessonIf you are familiar with the wonderful children’s book “WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE” by Maurice Sendak, and most primary teachers are, you will know that it is often a high energy and fun read.

It was for this very reason that I thought it would be interesting to see if I could turn it into a relaxation lesson.

It has been one of my favourite children’s books for a very long time and as I recalled the story I realised there was a lot of potential to introduce breathing techniques and yoga poses along side the narrative which could, if you so chose, transform the whole feel of the story.

Having spent many hours reading stories to my children at bedtime, coaxing them to sleep, reading in a quieter and slower voice as the story goes on, in the vague hope that they will finally nod off, I know that the voice we use to read a story alone can have a huge impact so imagine the impact that adding other mindfulness techniques could have on young children.

What could be lovelier that introducing our little ones to relaxation tools in such a familiar and fun way too?

So I have created a lesson plan which can be used to teach this lesson I dreamed up to your class, of course if you don’t have a class or your class are too old, you can use it with your own children, or even yourself.

I hope you will enjoy my flight of fancy as much as I enjoyed creating it.

You can download the lesson by clicking the image below:

Where the Wild things are - lesson plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I now have a wide range of lesson plans for the whole Early Years and Primary age range available in my shop. Please take a look if you have found this lesson helpful.