Missoula Community School


Welcome Back to school friends!

Our first two mindfulness classes have been such a breath of fresh air!  Not only because I get to see so many excited faces, but because we have been learning about our breath!  Last week Barry the Breathing Bug showed up and showed us how his body expands when he breathes in and get smaller when he breathes out.  We all practiced our slow breaths together to see how our bodies do the same thing!

After talking about our breath, it was time to move!  I started by playing hide and seek with the bell.  Friends had to hide their eyes and listen for the chime as I hid around the classroom and rang the bell.  This helps build listening awareness, and helps the children recognize where the sound is coming from so they can find out who rang the bell in their own classrooms.

Next, we started a game of freeze dance, but with the bell!  We got to wiggle, move, and groove the way that felt best to us, but when the bell rang we all froze and took a deep breath.  Games that switch from big exciting movement to calm bodies help with impulse control.  Sometimes it’s hard to turn the sillies off when you are having so much fun, but the more we practice the easier it gets.  This game also helps with practicing the skill of remembering to take a breath when it’s time to calm our bodies.

Today in Mindfulness we continued to expand our talk about breathing with a few more fun toys!  We used a Hoberman Sphere (at MCS a.k.a. the breathing ball)  to help the kids visualize how are stomachs and chest cavities get bigger when we inhale, and smaller when he exhale.  We practiced synchronizing our breath with the breathing ball, breathing in when it was expanding and out when it was contracting.

In the class we also had an oil diffuser with a blend of peppermint, lemon, and eucalyptus filling the air.  The smell helped us track our breath through our nose, sinuses, and into our lungs.  Friends noticed the air felt cool going in through our nose, and warm after coming out.

Then we talked about how our breath can even control how our bodies are feeling.  A new friend, Blueberry the Sea Turtle, brought a tiny ocean in a jar to share with the class.  When our breathing was fast and heavy the waves of the ocean were crazy!  Many friends commented that they felt a little crazy also after breathing with short quick breaths.  When we slowed our breathing down the ocean waves became calmer and slower.  Many friends recognized that their bodies did the same.

We found a open space in the classroom to lie down on our backs while Blueberry brought everyone an ocean treasure to put on their stomachs.  We practiced making waves with our stomachs for the oceans treasures by inhaling to make our treasures rise – exhaling to make our treasure fall.  The ocean treasure rode the waves of our breath for a few minutes before returning back to circle.

Mindfulness at Home

The games that we played in Mindfulness can be easily incorporated in you own home!  Freeze dance is a great game for big silly movements when going outside might not be an option.  It helps kids become aware of their own bodies, and the space around them.  You can pause the music, use a bell or instrument, or some other verbal cue to signal when it is time to freeze!

Calming oceans breaths can be done with a favorite stuffed animal or any object.  Tell your kids that you are going to give your stuffed animal a boat ride on their stomachs!  Breathing in helps move the animal boat up on the waves, breathing out lets them surf back down.

Sign Time with Carrie

Sign Time with Carrie

Another sign video!

Love! – Sign Time with Carrie

Hi friends!  Here are a few videos to catch you up on some of what your children have been learning with Carrie during sign time.  Enjoy!

Love!  Lesson:


I love… activity:


Kindness and Diversity

Last weeks mindfulness we talked about kindness, and the little ways we can give gifts of kindness to others.  Kindness can be as grand as making a special breakfast for someone, or as simple as just listening to a friend.  We read a book called Acting with Kindness that showed many different examples of real people doing kind things for others.  Then we went to work to put some kindness into action!  I had three different stations set out where kids could make a kindness creation to give away.  The catch was that they didn’t know who their present was going to!  At the end of mindfulness all of the classes came together to exchange presents with another person who had their matching symbol.  Friends were a little unsure at first at giving away their beautiful creation to a random person rather than their loved one of choice. Once we were all together and exchanges were made, uncertainties melted away and were replaced with feelings of happiness.  When I asked the group how they were feeling after the exchange kids cheered and said good!

Mindfulness at Home

Any time is a good time to give gifts to neighbors or people in the community.  Pictures, cookies, homemade jewelry, you name it!  It’s easy to give presents to loved ones, so maybe try and challenge yourself and your kids to make a donation or present for someone you are less familiar with.  I have fond memories of getting cupcakes from my new neighbors when I was fresh to my neighborhood.

This week in mindfulness we had the pleasure of having a young man named Jess come teach us some of his native Blackfoot language.  Friends had to be mindful listeners to recognize some of the different words and repeat and respond to them.  Jess brought in a few items in his magic bag, and had some animal friends sing counting songs with us.  At the end of the lesson the kids were asked to draw a picture of one of the things that was the most memorable during the lesson.

Mindfulness at Home

Talk about different cultures and languages!  Part of being mindful is the awareness that people look, act, and communicate in so many different ways.  It’s a great way to celebrate our humanity by recognizing and learning about our differences in a non biased way.

Little Clouds and Gratitude Rocks

Last week’s mindfulness we read a short but sweet story by Eric Carle, called Little Cloud.  In the story a small cloud breaks away from the other clouds to change into some different things.  Little cloud is then beckoned by the other clouds to come join them.  Little cloud rejoins the other clouds, and together they rain!  After reading the book we had a discussion on what little cloud was good at.  Everyone agreed that little cloud was great at changing into different things.  We then talked about what happened when little cloud rejoined the group of clouds… it rained!  I asked the kids why rain is important, and many replied that it helps plants grow, and that people and animals need water to be healthy.  We used this story as a metaphor for our school and our community.  I brought our our own MCS cloud (which was actually a mass of cottonballs) and told the kids that just like little cloud they were all great at different things.  When we all bring our gifts and talents together we achieve great things and help each other grow!  I went around the circle and asked each kid to think about what they were really good at, and then gave them a piece of our MCS cloud to remember that they are skilled individuals who help each other grow when we work together.  We ended this circle by doing some yoga!  We used the book The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids as a guide, and used the first letter of our names to pick the yoga poses.

Mindfulness at Home

Talk about the things that you are good at, and how your talents help your friends, family, and community.  It’s empowering to know that we are a part of something much bigger, and that it is our skills together that make up our healthy, functioning community.

This week’s mindfulness lesson we read the book I See Kindness Everywhere and talked about what it means to have a gratitude attitude.  The story gives thanks to different people from farmers to sock makers, and highlights the idea that we are all connected because the of the kind things that we do for each other.  At the end of the story we decorated gratitude rocks to take home.  The rocks can be to keep, or to give to a loved one.  They are a simple and beautiful reminder that we have so much to be grateful for in our lives.

Mindfulness at Home

When practicing gratitude by finding specific things you are thankful for, it can be fun to have your own special items to turn into a thankful item.  Whether it be a rock that you decorate on your own, or an item that brings you joy, it can sometimes help to have an item you love to help stir up feelings of thanks.


The children have been learning about colors through sign.  Click here to check out some of the signs your child has explored.  (Link available until Feb. 11)

Emotions/Feelings Sign Lesson

The children have been learning about emotions and feelings through sign.  Click here to check out some of the signs your child has explored.  (Link available until Feb. 11)



It’s OK to Make Mistakes and Mindful Movements

This weeks mindfulness we talked about mistakes: what is a mistake, who makes mistakes, what we can do when we make mistakes.  We read the book It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr.  The book gives lots of examples of different mistakes, and what you can do to solve the problem.  We brainstormed what mistakes us or people we know have made, and reflected on what we did after or could do in the future to correct our mistakes.  A big key point that we continued to come back to is that everyone makes mistakes and to be kind to ourselves and others when mistakes are made.
After reading I challenged the kids to three careful movement games where mistakes were bound to happen.  The first game we balanced a marble on a spoon and passed the spoon to the friend next to us.  The challenge was to get the marble and spoon all the way around the circle without the marble falling.  If the marble fell… it was okay!  Kids found that it was easy to put the marble back on and encourage their peers to try again.  The second game we laid on our backs with our feet in the air and passed a balloon around the circle with just our legs.  The third game we passed a stuffed animal around the circle, only using our elbows to grab the stuffed animal.  Each of these games required focus and gently movements to pass the items to their neighbor in a safe way.
Mindfulness at Home
Talk about mistakes!  To err is human.  Anytime you make a mistake point feel free to point it out in a carefree fashion, and then follow up with a solution or brainstorm solutions!  It’s such a simple way to teach that trial and error is one of the many ways we learn.
Mindful movement games – be creative and invent games that require careful movement and close body contact.  You not only have to be aware of the object that you are transferring, but where you are in space compared to your neighbor.  Think of unconventional ways to use your body to transfer items.  Another fun game is to try and transfer an orange (or an object of similar size and shape) to another person by squeezing it under your chin, and passing it to the other person so they can grab it with their neck and chin.

Emotions and Feelings

Recognizing Emotions

Last week in mindfulness we revisited emotions and what feeling a certain way may look like.  We read a book called Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis, and then had a look at some pictures of real life children to guess how they were feeling.  There was no right or wrong answer while looking and guessing the picture children’s emotions.  We talked about how sometimes someone might be feeling more than one emotion at the same time, or how some emotions like frustrated, angry, or jealous can look and feel very similar.  After some talk of emotions we took turns pretending to be angry, confused, sad, excited, jealous, and a few other emotions while I took pictures of the kids.  We’ll be making our own feeling chart for the school with all of these pictures!  While kids were waiting for a turn to have their feeling picture taken we colored a page for our journals on what emotion we were feeling at the moment.

Mindfulness at Home

Anytime you talk about your feelings, or notice what people’s body language or faces look like when they are feeling a certain way you helping foster emotional awareness.  It’s fun to make faces in the mirror of what mad, sad, or excited looks like.  Say what you notice about your face or your child’s when they are making mad faces. “Look at how your eyebrows point down and your noise wrinkles when you are mad.”  When you read books or watch shows together point out that someone has a frown on their face, or if they are stomping because they are frustrated about something.  If you have the time you can take your own family feelings pictures to make flash cards or a feelings poster.

Feelings Surrounding the Unknown and Mindful Movement

Today in mindfulness we started by ringing the bells and had a visit from our dear friend Barry the Breathing Bug.  Barry took some deep breaths with us and showed us again how his body gets big and stretched out when he breathes in, and smaller and more relaxed when he breathes out.  After taking some big breaths we played a game where we tried to guess what was inside a very mysterious box.  As friends shook the box and made their guesses we also talked about what it feels like to not know something.  Some friends were excited to play the game, while others were a bit apprehensive or even worried about not knowing what was in the box.  We continued to talk about our feelings as we guessed what was in the box, and noticed how our feelings changed as got closer to opening the box.  Children who were nervous about what was in the box in the beginning found that they started to feel excited when it was time to find out and open the box.  We also talked about the feelings they had after they knew what was in the box.

After sitting for so long we played a game called “shake it up!” to relieve some of our excess energy, and practice our mindful listening skills.  Friends pretended to glue their bottoms and feet to the floor, and explored what kind of movement we could still do even though our bottoms and feet were stationary.  I had a small drum that I played a simple rhythm on.  When I played the drum the kids shook their bodies to the corresponding beat, shaking faster as I sped up and slower as I drummed slower.  After playing the game we checked in with our bodies and noticed how the shaking movement made us feel.  Many of the kids noticed their bodies felt hot, tired, and some even felt relaxed afterwards.  We took a few more breaths with our friend Barry and said goodbye to him until next time!

Mindfulness at Home

Play your own game of Mystery Box! It helps strengthen kids listening and feeling senses, but also helps reinforce that it is alright to not always know the answer to something.  You can take turns putting items inside the box so your child also has a turn to be the one knowing the secret.   “Shake it up!” can also be played in a variety of different ways.  If you have the space you can shake your whole body while standing, or if you are in a smaller space you could also have and item to squeeze or do some swaying or rocking to the rhythm that someone plays.  Drums are fun, but if you don’t have one around you could pat on your legs or use a different instrument.