Highlights from a past class

a day in the jungle

Guiding children in mindfulness

This week we are half way through the term so I decided to try something a bit different in the lessons.

A couple of months ago I found a wonderful social-emotional form of bingo called “A Day in the Jungle” from Chalk & Chuckles. I have been wanting to try it out for a while now so I thought that mid-way through the term would be a good time.

The children worked in pairs and each pair was given a bingo board. Each board shows 16 different scenes of playful jungle animals in a social or emotional situation – sharing, caring, courteous, playful, helping and in danger. So, for example, there are two elephants sharing an umbrella.

Each child has a chance to throw the two super-sized dice. One dice has the face of a jungle animal, the other describes the social-emotional situation. The children then look at their board to see if they have a picture that matches the combination rolled on the dice E.g. “elephant & sharing”.

In some of the classes, when the competition was at an all-time high, I asked all the teams to pass their board to the team on their right and then to carry on playing with the new board they had received. Outrage! A few teams were over the moon and couldn’t believe their luck, but mostly the feeling was one of outrage.

Immediately I asked the children to check-in with their feelings. To connect with and name the feelings. I felt they did superbly well to step back and look inward. Some of the response were: “I am so irritated right now!”, “I feel terrible!”, “It feels so unfair”, “I feel very angry!” The comments were filled with emotion but all the comments were verbalised in a clear and conscious manner.

It was a wonderful moment for the children to practise finding the gap that mindfulness offers in terms of responding consciously to a challenging situation instead of simply reacting impulsively.

We also had some fun learning a few yoga poses related to the animals in the game:

  • Monkey – lovely squat pose. It helps strengthen legs, open hips and induces calm.
  • Rabbit – stretches the spine and arms. Releases tension in the upper back and neck.
  • Elephant – lovely forward bend and then slight backend when the elephant sprays water on his back.
  • Lion breath – helps to fully empty the lungs of all the old stale air making space for new clean air.
  • Bamboo – stretches and opens the sides of the body.
  • Active crocodile – gets the arms and legs moving.

I ended off the lessons this week by reading to the children from the wonderful book “Each Breath a Smile” which is based on the teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh. An inspiring book to help children connect with their breath.

So, this week I would like to leave you with my favourite verse from the book:
Breathing in, I come back to myself.
Breathing out, I smile.

May you and your child share many smiles in the upcoming week.