This week I was reminded again how, despite all my lessons in a given week following the same lesson plan, each class is completely unique! It was wonderful to see the spirit and energy of each child come through in the classes, giving each class a special uniqueness. So, the below is an overall reflection of the classes this week but each class had its own flavour.
As usual, we started our lessons with three deep breaths, while listening to the chimes. This is such a wonderful way to help children bring their attention into the room and the present moment. There were some new faces joining us this term so we spent some time playing name games and refreshing what mindfulness is. It was great to see some of the children, who have been coming to Mindful Minis for a while, explain to the new children what mindfulness is. Warmed my heart!
I love the quote by Ara that goes like this:
“The green forests are woven through your spirit
And the animals of the earth run in your veins.
Your heart is wild and your soul is free.
Never by tamed.”
So, I decided to make Animals the theme for this term. This week we focused on birds, but having said that, some of the classes took a turn of their own and we hardly discussed birds! But in the majority of the classes we spoke about what birds can teach us about mindfulness, for example, an owl’s ability to sit very still while waiting to catch a mouse or the stillness an eagle experiences soaring above the clouds.
I passed around some feathers (from a crested guineafowl) that I had found in Hluhluwe. The crested guineafowl is different to the helmeted guineafowl that we know in Cape Town since it has much smaller dots on its feathers that appear to join and form lines in some places. Also, its feathers have a slight blue tinge to them. I also had a tiny bird’s egg that the children enjoyed looking at. I love watching children light up when offered things from nature to look at or touch. Most often there is a sense of wonder and amazement when they find out something new about the Mother Earth and her creatures.
In the younger groups we listen to a variety of bird sounds from the beautiful book “Sounds of the Wild – Birds” by Maurice Pledger. The pop-up illustrations in this book are incredible and the sounds are so real it felt like the birds were right in the room with us.
It was then time to do some creative work. This week we made mindfulness bracelets. You may ask what that has to do with birds?! Well, nothing! I simply recently saw an article on using mindfulness bracelets to slow down breathing and calm anxiety so I thought that is something I would definitely like to try in Mindful Minis. So, armed with some wool, wool needles and beads, the children made the most glorious mindfulness bracelets. It was also a great fine motor skill exercise for the children. We then practised using the bracelets by slowly touching each bead on the bracelet while taking a slow, deep breath in and out. Most of the children said they noticed feeling much calmer and more grounded after using the mindfulness beads.
And finally, it was time for the guided visualisation. This week the children listened to the track Fly Eagle Fly from the album “Mindful Moments for Minis”. I think the children responded well to the suggestion of flying “in the stillness” like an eagle.
So, a good start to the term! It was lovely to see all the old faces again and great to share a first mindfulness class with others. I hope that the children enjoyed making the mindfulness bracelets and that they will help to find the stillness within.