Being mindful means engaging the 5 senses that we are born with - sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch. This weekend with the Alluem Little Kids, we honed in on our sight. Kids are often care-free at this age, and as a parent, you'll probably find yourself repeatedly saying - "Watch where you're going. Pay attention to where you're stepping. Look both ways." Kids need those reminders as they are learning to be mindful in their actions, to be aware of what they are doing.
A couple of simple games that can aid in the development of really "seeing" are probably some you are familiar with:
I-Spy: I emptied my Curious Bag filled with our Breathing Buddies (small stuffed animals and toys) into the middle of our circle and started, "I-Spy with my little eye...something green that jumps!" Herbert, the stuffed frog, of course! We practiced our Frog Jumps. Each child got a chance to "spy" something from the circle and we all did the pose that went along with the item.
What's Missing?: Now that they've gotten their chance to really see all of the items in the circle, I spaced them out for a couple rounds of What's Missing?. In this game, the children all come into Child's Pose. Closing their eyes they are instructed to deeply inhale and exhale while I remove one item from the circle. When I've taken the item away, I ask "What's Missing?" and the children must guess. This game usually becomes pretty high energy when they excitedly being raising their hands "I know!! I know!!!!" Having them go into Child's Pose and take a moment to breathe, gives them a chance to regroup, rest the eyes, and refocus before coming up to quickly scan the group of items to see what's missing. And sometimes I take nothing out to see if they are really paying attention - builds character.
Breathing Buddies: I reintroduced the Breathing Buddies, as we have quite a few new students this session. Each child picked on of the small stuffed animals to be their Breathing Buddies. Our Breathing Buddies are there to support us while we practice our deep breathing. Lying on our backs, our Breathing Buddies sit on our bellies and get ready for a ride. As we inhale we fill our bellies with air raising our Buddies up to the sky. As we exhale, we pull our bellies in watching our Buddies lower down. Inhaling and exhaling we watch our Breathing Buddy rise and fall. Having a focus on the breath becomes very relaxing and having a Breathing Buddy with us keeps us company. This is a great exercise that is good to do right before bed or if you child has trouble sleeping at night - instead of waking up mom or dad, having a Breathing Buddy can be just the comfort they need.
After our Savasana with the Breathing Buddies, we came up to sit for a short storybook that is probably familiar with every child - Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle. To go along with our story, I passed out the below drawing sheet "What do you see?". I played off Eric Carle's story writing, "Yogi, yogi, what do you see? I see my breathing buddy sitting with me. Inhale. Exhale. Breathing deeply. Sitting together we are as calm as can be." The kids were asked to look closely at their Breathing Buddies. Looking at the colors first, they picked what they needed from the crayon box. Next they looked at the shape of their buddy and drew that. Finally they added details and color. A still life art project if you will, but an exercise in mindfulness, none the less.