A friend of mine told me about a 5 year old birthday party she attended recently. The mother had a board with a list of games the children would be playing throughout the party. The mother said to my friend. “Watch this!”
‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Waterfalls” Then she and the children all made a waterfall with their fingers. She had this active bunch of children’s’ full attention! Apparently, a teacher friend had passed this technique on to her.
As soon as my friend told me the story I said “I am going to use THAT!” I love different ways to get kids attention. When I am teaching in schools I use something I call Mindful Management which is my version of classroom management.
This Waterfalls activity goes hand in hand with the upcoming focus of Mindful Storytelling sessions. I have been working on visualisation exercises to introduce in class over the next few sessions. I have decided to start with Waterfalls as I can tie it in nicely to the story the children and I have been working on.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and Click the Facebook link to see a video of last weeks fun in class!
Calming Effects of Water
People through out history have been drawn to water, a fact experts have said was linked to survival. However, people still flock to vacation spots near the beach, rivers and lakes and more and more studies have investigated the calming effects of water. Being in close proximity to water, for some, relieves stress and enhances creativity. Water is also said to impact the meditative experience.
I know in my own experience when I take my children to the beach or camping, we generally camp next to a river or a water source, we all get a bit calmer and time seems to stand still.
Taking this idea that water can induce a sense of calm, I would like to talk about the brain body connection.
Mind Body Connection
What we think about can impact our body. When we think about a scary event it can trigger the fight, flight or freeze response in our brain. This then releases stress hormones into our body. The brain cannot distinguish between real danger or memory induced danger. Equally, when we are having happy thoughts or joyful memories the warm fuzzy happy hormones are released.
I want to state very clearly here that all emotions are necessary and valid. I am not saying that you should encourage a child, or yourself for that mater, to stop feeling extreme emotions like frustration, anger and the like and replace them with happy emotions or thoughts. There is a growing body of evidence which acknowledges that the ‘Think Positive Movement’ has had a detrimental effect on the quality of happiness that one is able to achieve. Denial of darker emotions or feelings doesn’t get rid of them it simply pushes them away.
However, giving children tools that encourage calm and connection may help them to solve problems, that arise, more creatively and peacefully.
If we can think ourselves into believing our body is under attack then equally we can create an experience through visualisation where the picture in our heads can leave us feeling calm and stress free.
Here is the lesson plan for last weeks Mindful Storytelling school aged session.
Kev Koala Please Come Down!!!
Inspired by the book ‘The Koala Who Could’ by Rachel Bright and Jim Feild
Learning Intentions: Over the next couple of sessions we will be learning about visualisation (getting a picture in your head). This is an important skill you use when you are using your imagination, day dreaming, reading a book or acting out a story.
Tuning in: Show the children a picture of a waterfall. Now close your eyes and imagine you see the waterfall in your minds eye. What did you see when you pictured it in your head? (Was it moving or still like the picture?) Let’s try it again and imagine that the waterfall is moving. Let your imagination go where it likes. What did you notice that time?
Giving the students the opportunity to fill in details is an important part of connecting with and developing their own creativity. It gives you the opportunity as the parent or educator, to validate the ideas or pictures they have imagined during this process.
Mindful Moments: Designed to get the attention of the students and get us out of our minds and/or bring our energy and attention back into our bodies. This week we will use 1-2-3-4-5 Waterfall activity described above.
Story set up: This week will start off with a yoga journey incorporating the chants we created last week and telling the story of KEV Koala. Each yoga mat has a card with an Australian animal written on it. As we encounter each animal through out the story students will be encourage to try and talk Kev the Koala into coming down from his tree.
Main lesson: During the main lesson the story develops with the help of music, dance, movement and the ideas of the children. This week we will work together in small groups taking our friend Kev Koala on adventures. Each students will choose a character from the story to be.
Visualisation: This week the students will experience a guided visualisation where they go on a mini adventure with Kev Koala to a waterfall.
Reflection: Each student will share any special details they noticed during the guided visualisation.