Highlights from a past class

holiday workshop (jul 2017, day 3) – touch

Guiding children in mindfulness

Today we discussed finding awareness using our sense of touch. As a welcome activity, I provided each child with a ball of scented play dough. I asked them to enjoy squishing and squashing the play dough, to notice how it felt in their hands. I then asked them to roll it into a long sausage and place it in a spiral shape at the top of their mats. Each child had a pom pom which they then blew in and out of the spiral. A lovely exercise that I enjoy using to draw attention to the breath. If one blows too hard, the pom pom overshoots the boundary but if one blows to soft, the pom pom doesn’t move.

We then started the class by connecting with our bodies using a technique of lightly tapping our bodies. Gentle taps on our heads and on our faces, then working down to our shoulders and arms, then chests and tummies, and then legs and feet. Doing this a few times really wakes up the body and gets the blood flowing. I then asked the children to join me in a Mindful Minis clap. Essentially a big, strong clap of the hands in front of the body, but with noticing immediately afterwards any sensations in the hands. Pins and needles, slight burning, buzzing, tingling, sore! These were some of the responses I got. The Mindful Minis clap is a fun and simple way for children to practise mindfulness and drawing attention to what is happening inside their bodies.

We then did a tactile sensory exercise where I painted the underneath of the toes of one foot of each child. I asked them to describe what they could feel as I painted. Ticklish, squishy, cold, wet, slimy. They then made a toe print on some paper and washed their feet, again noticing how the water felt when washing. We then put the toe prints aside to use later on in the class.

Next, we played a game of “What’s in the Bag?” I passed around my rainbow bag that contained a variety of small objects. Each child had a turn to put their hand in the bag to feel and describe an item. For example – Is it hard or soft? What is its shape? Is it heavy or light? Is it rough or smooth? Initially the kids struggled to resist naming the item before describing it. They all just wanted to guess their item correctly. But after we had been around the circle once and most of the items in the bag had been revealed, I asked the children if they would play again, but this time to see how many describing words they could use before naming the object. This worked much better! One little girl even managed 10 describing words (and this is with no sight, just touch).

It was then time for a guided visualisation. We listed to the track “My Beautiful Body” on the CD Meditations for Kids by the lovely Tamar Dakes. Essentially it is a yoga nidra for children. Many of the children took the opportunity to really let go and give their bodies some deep relaxation time. Four of the children had a chance to use the wonderful weighted blankets, made especially for Mindful Minis by the lovely Adele from Weighted Blankets South Africa.

We then paused for a snack break and some fresh air. It was wonderful to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. During the break, I asked the children to find 3 leaves in the garden. So, when the break ended, the kids were eager to get back inside to find out what the leaves were for. I explained to the children that we were going to turn their toe prints from earlier into caterpillars and do a leaf rubbing so that the caterpillar had something to eat. After lots of rubbing, cutting and sticking, there were some delightfully cute caterpillars munching away on some brightly coloured leaves.

Tomorrow is the final day in our workshop and I am really looking forward to exploring how to use our sense of taste to draw attention to the present.

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