Highlights from a past class

your special animal

Guiding children in mindfulness

Our theme for the term has been animals and what animals can teach us about mindfulness. This week in each class it was the last lesson for the term so I decided to personalise things a bit and let each child discover an animal that held meaning for them.

This was done in earnest through the guided visualisation in which I suggested that the children met an animal in their minds that had a message for them. I suggested that the message was one that would help the seeds of happiness to grow in their hearts. The feedback from the children about what they experienced during the meditation was beautiful. One little girl had a Phoenix bird visit her and encourage her on her journey through life. I loved that! An older boy had a turtle visit him; others had cats (domestic and wild) visit them; one little girl had a cow visit her. All so special and they all simply put a smile on my face. Some of the messages were slightly cryptic and I did have a giggle to myself.

We did a mindful listening exercise whereby I played some noises of wild animals from the savanna for the children. The sounds were accompanied by a video of the animals that were making the noises. For the first part of the exercise, I let the children watch the video while listening to the sounds. It was interesting to note how the pictures on the screen were a distraction for some of the children. They struggled to simply sit, listen and watch and instead wanted to chat and relay stories about the animals they were seeing on the screen.

In the second part of the exercise, I asked the children to lie down and close their eyes. Then I played only the sounds for them with no video. The children were far more settled during this exercise and easily managed to lie and listen. Afterwards we spoke about how different it was without the video. What came out of the discussions was how much richer and fuller the animal noises sounded when there was no video to watch. And how we all heard new animal sounds the second time around that we had not heard the first time. Often when we take one sense away, the other senses become stronger. Our sight is such a dominant sense so it helps sometimes to close one’s eyes and allow some of the other senses to work their magic by enveloping you with sounds, smells, tastes or textures.

In some of the classes we played a fun yoga game where the children had to make up a new yoga pose based on an animal card that they got. There were dung beetles, rhinos, giraffe and secretary birds to name a few. Some of the made-up poses were great and I will definitely be using them for future mindful movement exercises!

And finally, it was time for some artwork. With the older classes, I gave each child a white piece of paper with a squiggle on it. I asked them to draw something from the guided visualisation, incorporating the squiggle into the picture. It was incredible to see how many different things the squiggle could be!

With the younger children we made some animal fridge magnets using painted wooden sticks and black khokis. The children used stipes and dots to make the most gorgeous tigers, cows and giraffe. And of course, no artwork is complete without googly eyes! So, lots and lots of fun for the little ones.

That draws to a close the third term of 2018. Term 4 starts again on Wed 17th Oct. Happy holidays everyone!