Line of inquiry: How can we develop more focus? How can relaxation and mindfulness help ease stress and anxiety?
Grade range: 4-7
Group size: Medium sized groups of 15-20 works best.
Materials: Nothing, however comfortable clothing helps.
Time: 20-30 minutes the first time, once students are practiced, it will only take 15-20 minutes.
Skills: Critical thinking skills, communication, cooperation
Space: Enough space to accommodate the group, each person needs enough space to move in and stretch comfortably
Directions: Students can sit with legs folded on the ground, in a circle or in their desk chairs. The facilitator will invite the students to stretch their arms toward the ceiling and take a deep breath and bring their arms to sit loosely in their laps. The facilitator will teach the students how to breathe: breathe in, through your nose, to the count of five (feel your belly rise!) breathe out, through your mouth, to the count of five (feel your belly shrink!) Repeat 4-5 times. Now, students will close their eyes, and breath again, this time, counting and trying to focus only on the numbers and the in or out of their breathe (The facilitator will continue to whisper in and out, but the students should do the counting.)
Deliver the Challenge: Ask students to get from 1 to 5 and from 5 to 1 without letting their mind wander – just focus on their breathe and counting. If they find their minds wandering, they must start over. When they have completed the task, they should look straight ahead, or close their eyes, and smile, waiting silently for the others.
Extensions: Students who are able to complete this quickly should push themselves to a ten count or even beyond.
Reflection: how do you feel? Are you more relaxed? Focused? Will you try this on your own?
Notes: this can be a weekly or even daily activity. Students can learn to center and to focus.
Safety: Some students may not be able to do the deep breathing. Pay attention and let them complete the task at their own level.