Posts

Mindful Meditations for Children: An Interview Heather Bestel

It is with great pleasure to share with you an interview with Heather Bestel – the creator or Magical Meditations for Kids.  Heather is a holistic therapist and mindful teacher that embraces the ideas of “hope, love, kindness and forgiveness.”  She believes that “everyone is capable of doing great things” and she helps many along their path to success.

New research suggests that meditation benefits children academically, emotionally, and personally, and Heather’s materials are truly outstanding.  My students love Heather’s meditations!

________________________

Erica: If you had to put it into a single sentence, what is at the heart of Magical Meditations for Kids?
Heather: Inspiring children to connect with their inner sense of calm.
Erica: Why did you create your products?
Heather: I had been working with children as an educational psychotherapist for many years and loved to use stories and meditations with them as part of the process. I’m passionate about the power of story and love meditation.  I had built up quite a library of resources, but they were never exactly what I was looking for, so I started to develop my own. All the meditations have been honed and tested on thousands of children over the years. In 2010 I was approached by a publisher

who was a big fan of my work and wanted to make it available to the world.

Erica: Were there any key people or organizations that helped to inspire the genesis of Magical Meditations for Kids Click here to view more details
Heather: All the children I’ve worked with for more than twenty years have inspired me, and I learn from them all the time.
Also, my good friend and founder of A Quiet Place, Penny Moon. Penny has always been a big fan of my therapy work and invited me to head up the team to pilot her idea of offering Educational Therapeutics in inner city schools to support families of children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties. The pilot was monitored and measured by Liverpool University and deemed a huge success.  Now A Quiet Place offers holistic support in schools nationally and internationally. It was during my time working with this project that I created my first magical meditations.
Erica: Who is your audience?
Heather: The meditations are divided into two age groups: 4-7 year olds and 8-11 year olds. But I’ve used them successfully with pre-schoolers and teenagers too. They can be used by teachers during circle time or quiet time or during personal health and social education classes or as a wind down to the day. Parents love them whether their child is experiencing challenges with anxiety or just enjoying a chill out session before sleep. They are a great resource on a long car journey too.  
There are 2 titles in the 4-7 age group:
  • Magical Me – is a lovely safe way to introduce younger children to the world of relaxation and helps them learn how to find their inner calm. They develop some wonderful resources to empower them whenever they need it.
  • Magical Adventures – takes our explorers on magical journeys: under the sea, into space, to the circus and on a magic carpet ride.  It helps them build their confidence and creativity.
  • Click here to view more details
There are 2 titles in the 8-11 age group:
  • The Magic Castle – helps children to feel calm & confident, increasing feelings of happiness and pride and build a belief in being amazing and talented.
  • The Magic Garden – helps older children to relax and switch off. They will love visiting their own special quiet place where they can develop a sense of wonder and feel: calm and peaceful, happy and relaxed, safe and loved.
  • Click here to view more details
Erica: What kind of feedback have you received about Magical Meditations for Kids?
Heather: I especially enjoy all the wonderful comments I get from the children as they always tell me how the magical stories make them feel.
Parents and teachers notice changes in behavior and attitude sometimes a soon as the first few days of listening. They are great if a child is struggling with a specific issue like nightmares, bedwetting or anxiety as the parent can measure results really easily.  Parents are delighted when their child is able to find their way back to their happy place.
Teachers love that they have a way of helping their pupils learn to slow down and be still, especially in this age of constant distraction. They notice a difference in use of imagination, concentration and an increase in their sense of well being, self esteem and a deep sense of inner calm.
I get a lot of emails from parents of children with autism telling me what an indispensable resource I’ve created.  Those messages are always extra special.  
Erica: Will you be creating more CDs?  How about digital downloads?
Heather: I’m always working on new ideas and would love to create more CDs. The present meditations are available as digital download and as apps. 
Erica: Will Magical Meditations for Kids be expanding and using other forms of technology and communication?  
Heather: I love to think of my work being around and developing in the future and am looking at ways to progress it in terms of new technologies. There is so much potential for growth and I’m always listening to new ideas and feedback from the most important people, the children.
Erica: Do you have any links or images that you would like to share?

Heather: I have a free gift for any parents wanting to try out my meditations with their own children. It’s a very gentle introduction to my work with a bedtime relaxation called My Angel to help your child have a peaceful sleep with their very own mp3. To download: go to 

http://www.magicalmeditations4kids.com/custom-p/free-stuff.html  If you are interested in Heather’s other materials Click here to visit Heather Bestel.

                                                  ________________________

I want to thank Heather for sharing her words and wisdom with us.  


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

Mindfulness and Resilience for Teachers and Students: An Interview with Renee Jain

I am truly honored and very excited to share an interview that I conducted with Renee Jain.  Renee is an award-winning technology entrepreneur, speaker and certified life coach that specializes in cultivating mindful resilience skills for children and adults.  Renee has transformed research-based concepts into fun and multisensory learning modules and workbooks that are ideal for teachers and students.  My questions focused on her site, GoStrengths!, that offers metacognitive techniques through digital animation and activities.  However, I soon learned, as will you, that she has a number of fabulous products and resources. 

____________________

Erica: Hi Renee.  Thank you for making the time to speak with us.  If you had to put it into a single sentence, what is the heart of Go Strengths?

Renee: The idea that happiness is a skill that can be fine-tuned with practice.

Erica: Why did you create the Go Strengths website and products?

Renee: There are simple research-based tools that can change a child’s life such as awareness of our self-talk, disputing inaccurate thoughts, and nurturing more optimistic explanatory styles. Why should kids only have access to such a toolkit inside the walls of a therapist’s office? Right now, we wait until children get anxious or depressed, for example, to send them to therapy. That is, if we recognize the issue, can afford therapy, have access to it, or deem it appropriate. All these qualifiers result in less than 30% of kids ever getting the help they need. But what if we took fundamental skills that anyone would learn in talk therapy and just taught this to kids early? What if we gave kids life skills before they faced their first big challenge? What we know is prevention of mental health disorders is possible. GoStrengths is a prevention program. 

The other reason we created GoStrengths is that beyond surviving, we wanted to teach kids how to thrive. Just getting rid of all the bad stuff can take you from a -10 to a 0. To live with meaning, hope, purpose, joy, and gratitude, are a whole separate set of skills we can pass onto children.

Erica: Were there any key people or organizations that helped to inspire the genesis of Go Strengths? 

Renee: There were so many people (and continue to be) that it’s hard to create a comprehensive list. The work of Martin Seligman–the founding father of the field of positive psychology–has been a great inspiration to this work. Research by Richie Davidson who studies contemplative practices such as mindfulness meditation and its effects on the brain has been another inspiration. Then, of course, there was a boy named Scott in my 7th grade math class who used to pick on me–a very non-resilient child. Many of the scenarios within the GoStrengths and GoZen programs are based on the challenges I faced while growing up. 

Erica: Who is your audience?

Renee: We reach parents, teachers, amazing children, and practitioners. This last group includes therapists, coaches, social workers, and other professionals working with children. 

Erica: The cartoons as well as the dialogue presented in your 10 modules is truly excellent.  Did you have a large team working on this comprehensive program?

Renee: Thank you! Our team is extremely large when it comes to heart, passion, and ingenuity. In terms of absolute numbers, we’re pretty dinky.

Erica: What kind of feedback have you received about your Go Strengths materials?

Renee: Oh, the feedback has been tremendously positive. It often brings tears to my eyes when someone says that this program is the thing that really clicked with their child and has made all the difference. 

Feedback we recently received on GoZen: “Thank you really doesn’t even begin to do justice to what GoZen! has done for my daughter. She is in kindergarten and this has turned us around. She also made her own GoFreeze necklace to take to school.”

Erica: Will you be creating more modules?

Renee: Absolutely. We have two full programs right now. The first program we launched was GoStrengths! dedicated to teaching social and emotional learning skills to children and aimed at the K-12 community. We also have GoZen! which deals specifically with anxiety relief and is used more by parents and therapists. We also have a mindfulness program that has yet to fully roll out called GoToTheNow! Our next project is an anger management program for kids.

Erica: Will Go Strengths be expanding and using other forms of technology and communication?  

Renee: Yes! We started with online programs only, but realized people still love to hold something in their hands and write on paper. So we’ve expanded the programs to have home study versions with workbooks and DVDs. We also have an array of other books, relaxation CDs, mindfulness cards, and more. What we’re most excited about is the launch of our toy line. Our first anxiety relief doll will be available next month!


___________________
Thank you Renee for sharing your words with my audience.  The products you have already created are both brilliant and magical.  I can’t wait to see what you create next.  
You can purchase comprehensive modules on the sites www.gostrengths.com and www.gozen.com.  In addition, some of Renee’s products are available through Amazon – see the links below.

 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

Teaching Students to be Mindful and Conscious Learners

According to recent research, a growing number of school aged children are experiencing a plethora of social, emotional and behavioral problems that interfere with school success, interpersonal relationships, as well as the potential to become competent adults and productive citizens.  What’s more, many students are passive learners that mindlessly attend classes and complete the work.  As a result, a growing number of young learners are unmotivated to learn, struggle with encoding academic content, and have trouble getting the grades that they desire.  So what can we do to help these students?  A simple strategy is to teach learners to be mindful and conscious of their academic approach.

What is Mindful or Conscious Learning?  
Mindful or conscious learning is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and sensations.   When taught to young learners, recent research suggests that training in this method can help students:

  1. foster empathy for peers and others
  2. reduce stress
  3. increase attentional abilities
  4. improve emotional regulation and social behaviors
  5. boost motivation
  6. raise grades

How Can This Skill be Taught?

The best ways to teach children to be mindful and in the moment is to be fully present yourself and share your own thought processes.  In addition, you can implement short meditations where you encourage learners to be aware of their breath and just observe their thoughts.  Here are three useful videos.  The first two videos can be shown to students and helps to explain the practice, while the third video shows practitioners in the classroom teaching this skill.  


Teaching children the skill of mindfulness can help them in school, but it will also help them to control and manage their emotions and physical state of being for the rest of their lives.  If you have had any experience using mindfulness in the classroom, please leave a comment.

Embracing Positive Learning Environments

Part of the learning process is making mistakes.  However, inadvertently teachers and parents often correct young learners with negative remarks.  Kids continually hear the words “no,” “incorrect” and “wrong.”  What’s more, in moments of
frustration, many children must withstand cutting, belittling names such as
careless, lazy and unmotivated.  I think
we have all been called these names at some time in our life, and I can promise
you, these negative labels never help the situation.  It only breeds frustration and
disempowerment.  In fact, if teachers or
parents get too critical, students can feel dejected and even develop a sense
of learned helplessness.
Stop the Negative
Labels:
Have you seen Dan Siegal speak about the psychological impact
of the word, “no?”  Here is a
link to a YouTube Video where he shows an audience the difference between “no”
and “yes” responses (Click Here).  I hope
you have a moment to view it.  
Replace Negativity
with Words of Encouragement:
How can teachers communicate student errors without sending a punitive message? Always point out what is right before using
positive terms to guide any mishaps to the correct answer.  Here is a list of browbeating, contentious
words that can be replaced with suggested words of encouragement.

Evaluating Errors:
Getting students comfortable evaluating their mishaps can be useful for the teacher as well as the student.  I tell my students that there are two types of errors.
  1. An oops or oopsy doodle: This is when a student knew the content but overlooked a detail.  If my students get discouraged with these types of mistakes, I always give them a high five and remind them that we are human.  I then say, “If people didn’t make mishaps, there would be nothing to learn.” 
  2. What?:  I always say this as if I am asking a question.  A “What?” is when a student never learned the concept.  This lets me know that I have to reteach the concept in a different way. 

Many of us grew up with negative labels, and I know,
first hand, how difficult it can be to temper discouraging comments.  However, with practice, you will find that embracing
words of encouragement will change the atmosphere of the learning environment and
your students will embrace the learning process with confidence and enthusiasm.  In addition, providing a safe place where students feel comfortable evaluating their mishaps with cutesy terms such as oopsy doodle and What? will guide classroom strategies that nurture individual success. 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  
Follow on Bloglovin

10 Ways to Release Worries in the Classroom

With stringent
common core demands, burdensome homework, and competition for high test grades,
many students spend a lot of time worrying about school performance.  However, many of these children do not
know how to manage stress, and it can lead to sleepless nights, panic attacks, temper
tantrums, health concerns, a case of learned helplessness, and even clinical levels of anxiety and depression.  So, what can we do to help children manage the academic load
while keeping a level head?
Help your Students Understand the
Negative Side Effects of Worrying:
1)   Worrying Interferes with Learning and Makes
it Hard to Concentrate:  
If
students are worrying, they are easily distracted and will likely miss
important directions and academic content. Here is a great NY Times article on this: Click Here
2)   Worrying has a Negative Impact on Memory:
Research
suggests that stress and worries make it difficult for the brain to access
memories.  In fact, prolonged
stress can cause an excessive amount of cortisol production in the brain which can even shrink the hippocampus – the memory center of the brain. To learn more about this go to: Click Here
3)   Worrying also Makes us Stressed, Unhappy and
Unhealthy: 
Negative emotions can harm
the body and lead to illnesses and diseases.  Harvard News and WebMD offers more on this.
Help your Students Manage their Worries:
1)   Integrate Movement into the Classroom:  When your students’ attention wanes,
offer short kinesthetic brain breaks. 
Also, encourage your students to get involved in sports and other
physical activities.  Exercise has
been shown to reduce stress.  In
fact, children that exercise regularly are better able to cope with
stress.  Come read more in this NY Times article.  
2)   Manage the Homework Load Across Classes:  Be sure to communicate with other
teachers so, each day, homework loads are manageable for your students.

3)   Give your Students “Personal Days” with
No Homework: Once a week, offer your students a day with no homework.  Brainstorm with them how they can best
use this free time.

4)   Create a Worry Box: Many students are not
able to share their worries because they are embarrassed or they are afraid
that their fears will be criticized. 
If you offer your students a worry box, where they can write down and
submit their concerns, it will allow you to address the issues individually or
as a class.

5)   Teach Time Management Skills:  Break long assignments into manageable
chunks with clear expectations and deadlines.  Also discuss time management with your students and brainstorm with them ways to prepare for assignments, projects and test in advance.
6)   Offer Short Mindful Meditations: Before
tests and other stressful events, offer your students the option of
participating in a short mindful meditation.  Here are two free meditations offered on YouTube that focus on stress relief: Meditation 1  Meditation 2.  
7)   Offer an Organized System for Catch-up:  When a student misses a day or more of
school, it can be difficult for them to manage the work load when they return.  As a result, create a system where
missed content, handouts, class notes and homework can be available on the
internet, through email or attainable from a peer or advisor. 
8)   Return Assignments and Tests ASAP:  After your students turn in homework,
classwork and completed tests, be sure to return the graded material as soon as
possible.  Also, offer them the
opportunity to learn from their mistakes by providing comprehensive comments or setting
up a one-on-one session with you or support staff.
9)   Provide Extra Credit for Test
Corrections:  Encourage your
students to learn from their mistakes by offering extra credit or additional points on
their test grade for completing comprehensive test corrections.
10) Set an Example:  Students
can learn how to let go of their worries if you too exhibit this behavior.  Think aloud and let them
hear how you can take a stressful situation and manage your own worries. 
Share the Following Statistics with your Class and Discuss Them:

If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear your thoughts!
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
Follow on Bloglovin

Mathemagic: Multisensory and Mindful Math Strategies Tailored for the Individual

Many students struggle with the steps required to complete
mathematical problems.  They may
forget the concept, miss a step, mis-sequence the steps, misread a sign, or struggle
with writing out or lining up the numbers.  In fact, even if a student has understood and executed a
problem with precision, it doesn’t mean that they will retain that information at a
later time.  So what can we do to
help these students to encode, into long-term memory, the steps required to complete math
computations? 
The 3 Key Components
for Effective Math Instruction
1.     Go multisensory: Integrate as many of the
12 Ways of processing as you can into your instructional plan: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Kinesthetic,
Sequential, Simultaneous, Reflective, Verbal, Interactive, Indirect Experience,
Direct Experience, and Rythmic
Melodic.  To learn more about this
click here 
2.    Teach metacognitive and mindful strategies:
Metacognition refers to
the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the
ability to control your own thoughts. 
Mindfulness refers to being completely aware of the present moment, as
well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach. It
helps to develop emotional intelligence and it instructs students to pay
attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve memory, test
scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.  To learn more about this click here
3.    Integrate creativity:  Integrating creative lessons and
assignments into the curriculum allows students to incorporate their imagination
and encourages active participation. 
Creative assignments also increases motivation for many students. 
Creating a Math Manual:
One of the most effective strategies I have ever employed
with students is creating a “math manual.”  This assignment or project unites the three components of
effective math instruction and also brings the fun factor into the
classroom.  This can be completed
throughout the academic year and checked for accuracy, so that students can use this resource for tests,
midterms, finals, and even state exams.
What Format Should be
Used?
Students can create the manual by hand or on a
computer.  It can be presented in a
photo album, a blank book, a binder, or a notebook.
Creating the Cover:
I encourage all of my students to come up with their own
unique, creative name and cover for their math manual.  In my illustration at the top of this blog, I called it
Mathemagic: A Magical Math
Manual. 
Create a Sequence of
Color Coded Steps:
Each student should write out the required steps to complete
the problem.  This can be done in a
linear fashion, a numbered list, a web or flow chart.  I also encourage students to color code the steps as this can also enhance memory.
Use Mnemonics:
Memory strategies are
tools that help students organize information before they file it away in their
memory banks.  I encourage my
students to create their own memory strategies and to use both visual and auditory mnemonics.
Complete a Sample
Problem:
Ask the students to provide a color coded sample problem
that illustrates the needed steps to complete a problem.
Other Options:
Ask your students to create
a song, poem, or rhyme with or without a dance routine to define the steps.  Integrating songs, rhymes and kinesthetics offers further modalities that will help to encode computation skills. 

Sample Math Manual Page:
I hope you you found this helpful!  If you would like a free copy of this division strategy, click here or on the image above.

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
Follow on Bloglovin

Teaching Metacognitive Skills: A Fun, Free Illustration and Download

Many students plod through schooling as passive learners and
they rarely learn to take control of their own cognition.  In contrast, others learn to be active
participants in the learning process and develop metacognitive skills.  Metacognition is the awareness of one’s
own cognition or thought process and it involves higher order thinking that enables understanding, analysis and control.  For many concrete learners, as well as
those that struggle with attentional issues, this notion can be difficult to
grasp.  However, the process can be
taught through visual aids, demonstrations, discussions, group work, and graphic
organizers.  In fact, the more
multisensory the instruction, the greater the likelihood that all your students
will master this skill. 
A Scaffolding Illustration:
The Process:
After a lesson or reading, I
like to summarize important details, main ideas, and then I make connections by
sharing my own thought processes.  I
explain to the students that I will be thinking aloud so that they can
understand how I use my brain.  Then,
I describe the concept of metacognition and I define it for my students.  To make the metacognitive process
multisensory, I integrate visual metaphors, as I find that the images and
comparisons help students to recall the meaning and the steps of
execution.  Then, through guided
instruction, I like to have students share their own thought processes.  Finally, I ask them to use this method
independently, or in small groups, at the end of future lessons.
A Specific Example:
1.   I project the attached image for all the students to see.
2.   I begin in the middle of the image and define the knowledge nuggets
or the important details highlighted in the lesson.   I explain that these are gold nuggets because they are
the most valuable details and they are the ones that we need to remember.  Then, I think aloud and fill in the knowledge
nuggets.
3.   I suggest that all of those knowledge nuggets can be melted
down and what results is the main golden message or the main idea of the
lesson.  It defines what the lesson
is trying to teach.  I then provide
the main golden message and write it on the lines at the top of the graphic
organizer.
4.   Finally, I illustrate to the students how to make golden connections.   I call them golden connections
because attaching new information to prior knowledge is another very valuable
tool that helps memory. I might connect the lesson to a personal experience or
a prior class topic.  I often begin
these examples with, “This reminds me of…”
5.   When I’m finished, I pull away the image with my thought
processes and put the same blank illustration back up for everyone to see.  Then, I ask the students to share their
own thought processes.  I ask for
student volunteers to fill in the suggested knowledge nuggets, main golden
message, and golden connections.  With
incorrect responses, I always thank the participant for sharing his or her idea
and then I express that they are, “almost there or almost golden.”  Then, I guide them to the correct
answers with questions and hints. 
·     
Step 5 can also be
completed in small groups that later present their ideas, or you can also print
the graphic organizer for each student to fill out individually. 
If you would like a copy of this
graphic organizer, so you too can use it for teaching metacognition, go to the
following page where you can find a copy of this blog and a free link
button.  Here, you can also get a
free copy of my Passive vs. Active Learning Assessment. http://www.dyslexiamaterials.com/free-advice-strategies.html 
Cheers, Erica
Dr.
Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory
educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.
 She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To
learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.com
www.dyslexiamaterials.com and www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin


Mindful Education and Teaching Emotional Intelligence Begins with the Learning Environment


 A big part of mindful education and teaching emotional intelligence
begins with the learning environment. 
Setting up a space where students can find peace and unwind is key.  In my private practice, this spot is my
“zen table” and the surrounding cushions, bean bags and tactile toys.  Here students can dip their fingers
into one side that is filled with lentils and colorful rocks and let the stress
of the day dribble from the tips of their fingers, or they can venture to the
other creative side that is filled with mung beans and magnets.  I got this beautiful table on Overstock
a number of years ago.  They call
it a TV table, but it makes the perfect centerpiece for a relaxation station.  If you want to make your own “zen space” you can also use big tupperware bins, an old chest, or even a wooden box.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!!

Cheers,

Teaching Self Control Leads to Academic Success

Come and learn from Dr. Sam Wang about the common myths about the brain as well as the incredible impact that the teaching of playful planning and self control can have on our childrens’s future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05vitpSY1vU&feature=relmfu

Five Specific Ways to Integrate Mindfulness into the Classroom

Mindfulness in education is a rising topic of discussion.  Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach to ones inner experience. It helps to develop emotional intelligence and it teaches students to pay attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve test scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.
So how can teachers integrate mindfulness into the classroom?

 1) Teachers must practice mindfulness in their own lives.  If a teacher does not have the time to meditate and listen to his or her breath and thoughts, they can be mindful or present even while doing household chores.  For example, instead of quickly watering the plants while chatting on the phone.  One can pull themselves into the present and find the joy of offering plants sustenance.  Notice each plant and appreciate the beauty and contribution it makes to your home.

2)  Define and discuss mindfulness with your students.  Review the following vocabulary:

     ·      Imagination:  Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.
     ·      Visualization: Visualization is the ability to create imaginary images within ones own head.  The mental pictures allow an individual to “see” past experiences, ideas or even future projections. 
     ·      Metacognition – Metacognition refers to the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the ability to control your own thoughts.
     ·      Mindfulness: Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience.
3) After recess guide your students through a mindfulness activity to calm their  senses.  Ask the students to sit for 3 minutes with their eyes closed.  They should notice their breath, release any thoughts and relax into their bodies.  You can start at their feet and work up to their head, asking them to be aware of their body and allow it to fully relax. 

4) Before a test, offer a mindful activity to help your students release any stress in their bodies.  Have the students take deep breaths and ask them to visualize a peaceful place of their choosing.  As they breathe in, have them imagine peace and knowledge filling their lungs.  As the breathe out, have them imagine that all negative thoughts such as doubt or concern will leave their bodies. 
5) After a classroom or social conflict, have the students sit in a circle facing one another holding hands.  Ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are all one entity.  As they breathe in, have them imagine that they are pulling positive energy, forgiveness and loving kindness into the group.  As they breathe out, have them release any negative energy that they may feel.  You can make it specific to the situation.  After the activity, ask for volunteers to share any complements or appreciation they would like to offer to the group or an individual.  Have all the other students listen mindfully. 
Mindfulness works best if time is allocated daily.  Remember these activities will only take a few minutes and it can help your students to develop emotional intelligence, metacognitive skills, compassion, and confidence.  Finally, it will also help to nurture a sense of community in the classroom.

 www.goodsensorylearning.com