Despite the cold winter’s day outside, it was warm and snuggly inside the Mindful Minis Studio this week. It was great to see all the children again after the school holidays and to welcome some new faces.
The theme for this term is ANIMALS. I chose this theme firstly because kids LOVE animals! But also, because I feel that animals can teach us a lot about living in the moment. They are not consumed with anger or guilt about what happened yesterday. Nor do they fear or worry about what is going to happen tomorrow. They simply embrace the present moment.
So, each week, I will share a new animal with the children and we will discuss what we can learn from that animal about how to live more mindfully. I gave the children a few clues about the animal for the week to see if they could guess it:
• They are the world’s tallest living land animals.
• Their favourite grub is the acacia tree. They spend most of their time eating, and can guzzle up to 45kg of leaves and twigs a day. We worked out that was equivalent to 3 of the smaller kids in the class!
• A group of these animals is called a tower. They are very social and roam around in groups – usually about 15 of them.
• No two of these animals have the same pattern on their body – like human fingerprints, they are unique.
• They have a bluish-purple tongue that is about 50cm long. That is a very long tongue!
It’s a giraffe! Such beautiful, graceful animals that walk tall and proud, filled with confidence in a gentle way. So, in the classes this week, we practised walking tall and proud. The children each had a turn to walk across a balance beam, slowly and with focus. Then they tried it again, but with balancing a bean bag on their heads. Great fun! With the older children, I challenged them to try it a third time, but with balancing a book on their heads. All of them agreed that during the exercise they were not thinking of anything else other than walking carefully along the beam. A great exercise in intense focus. Then we had a bit of fun seeing how many children could walk and balance on the beam at the same time! In the 9 – 11 year old group, we ended up with 4 kids. Impressive stuff!
In the 4 – 6 year old class I then read the beautiful book “Giraffes can’t dance” by Giles Andreae. It is a wonderful story about encouragement and believing in yourself. There is a giraffe who believes he can’t dance and all the other animals laugh at him. But a wise cricket encourages him to listen carefully for the music that is right for him and in the end, he surprises all the jungle animals with the most fantastic boogie! My favourite line in the book is “We all can dance,” he said, “when we find music that we love.” We then had some fun trying out our own dance moves with some music and bubbles.
The lesson ended with the Lion meditation from the Mindful Moments for Minis CD. In the story, the Lion has to walk very carefully and slowly across a tree branch that has fallen across a river in order to get to the other side. It is also a visualisation about self-belief and growing a child’s confidence.
In the older classes, we spent time in creative reflection. This term the children are working on animal mosaic pictures. The process of creating a mosaic picture is wonderfully therapeutic. Much focus is required but in a gentle and relaxed way. This week the children simply focused on drawing the outlines of their animals and started thinking about the colours they would like to use. A few of them have already started the fun part of pulling pages out magazines and tearing them into tiny pieces. Quite a liberating activity!
So, I think fun was had by all in this first lesson of the term. I wish you all a good week ahead, standing tall and proud like the graceful giraffe!