I explain to the kids that yogis use these bowls while they meditate to reinforce the practice of being mindful. After a brief discussion on this, I explain how we are going to use the bowl to honor our birthday child. Everybody will get a chance to hold and ring the bowl. As the bowl comes to you, hold it flat in your hand and silently think of a wish you would like to make for the birthday child. It can be anything from wishing he or she receives happiness and peace the entire year through or wishing he or she gets the present they are hoping for. Whatever the wish is, take a deep breath in and blow the wish into the bowl. Then take the mallet and ring the bowl. Let the vibrating sound of the bowl carry your wish all the way from your hands into the birthday child's heart. The kids love this.
This past weekend at a 9 year old's birthday party, after the first child rang the bowl, I simply asked the birthday girl if she felt that. She nodded, and said, "Yes, it made my heart feel warm." The bowl went around a little further to a family friend, who was only approaching 3 years old, but wanted to participate in the class (and she did a great job of keeping up! Even through Sun Salutations!). She took the bowl flat in her hand, blew into the bowl, and with an ear to ear smile she gave the bowl a great big ring! I looked at the birthday girl and she whispered, "That was the warmest one of all." I could've cried right then and there. Beautiful.