Missoula Community School

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.

Colors

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.

Sign Videos

Hi friends!  We are trying out posting videos from our sign language teacher, Carrie.  Our goal is to help you see the signs your children are learning and help you to bring what your child is doing at school into your home.  We will work out formatting, but didn’t want you to have to wait to bring sign language into your home.

Sign language video #1

Sign language video #2

Thankfuls and Mindful Body Movements

Hi friends!

Mindfulness has been a bit spread out this past month with conferences and Thanksgiving, but everyone has been extra excited to participate on the days we are in school!

The Friday before Thanksgiving break we talked about what we are thankful for.  When I asked the kids what being thankful meant to them I got a few simple and sweet responses back. Being happy!  Being happy for the things that we have in our lives.  We talked a little about how lucky we are to live in a place where we have clean water to drink, nutritious food that keeps our bodies healthy, families that love us, and a planet that provides us everything we need to live.  We made a thankful tree, where everyone shared what they are thankful for.  We wrote our thankfuls on leaves and then glued them to the tree.  We noticed that the more thankful leaves we added to our tree that the more full and beautiful the tree became.  We talked about how our lives are a little like the thankful tree in the sense that the more things we are thankful for in our lives, the more beautiful and fulfilling it is!

Mindfulness at Home

Write your own list of thankfuls!  It’s fun to brainstorm all the wonderful things we have to be thankful for in our lives.  You could even draw pictures or make a book of thankfuls to remind yourself when you are feeling a little blue.  You could also set aside a small time of the day to have a gratitude circle with your own family.  Meal times, after school, or even before bed can be a great time to have a short period of reflection and think about what you are thankful for during the day, and every day!

 

Today in mindfulness we had a mindful obstacle course that consisted of lots of big gross motor movement, and some more careful precise movements.  The obstacle course stations consisted of frog jumps from lily pad to lily pad, bear crawling over a trail, crocodile crawling through a swampy cave, hedgehog rolls over a mat, and carrying a small cup of water while balancing on a line to some pitchers.  The pitchers of water were later used to water the school plants, so everyone was extremely careful as to not spill their share of the water.  The room that we were is can be a bit tight with lots of energetic bodies moving around, so we made sure keep our bodies safe and notice where our friends were.  At the water station we had to practice patience while waiting for friends to carry the water to the destination.

Mindfulness at Home

Create your own obstacle course!  You can use household items on that too cold and snowy days to create opportunities to exercise in your own home.  Tables make great caves to crawl though, pillows or rags can easily be jumping stations to leap and bound to, milk crates of wooden boxes are great for plyometrics!  If you want to add some more precision and careful work into your obstacle course carrying objects on spoons, or walking with little containers full of water can help kids practice being more steady and controlled with their movements. Your kids can also come up with some very creative uses for your everyday household objects to add to your obstacle course.

Big Emotions

Happy Friday Friends!

The kids loved yoga so much that last week I decided to do another yoga story.  Last week’s story was about eagle, and what he does throughout his busy day.  I challenged the kids with a few more difficult yoga poses, but they all were up for the challenge, and just beamed as they were sideways and upside down interpreting the story with their bodies in their own way.  Eagle taught us from  the story to use our eyes and senses to notice what is going on around us.  The story of eagle helped us segway our conversation into noticing what changes are happening outside right now during the Autumn season.  After some great conversation we played a cooperative game where friends needed to use there eagle senses to pass a miniature pumpkin through their legs and over their head, backwards to their friends.  As they became comfortable with the pumpkin we spiced things up a bit by adding a miniature gourd to the passing line.

This week’s mindfulness lesson was all about feelings, and how they are a big part of us.  We checked in with everyone to see how we were all feeling today.  Kids responded with many different answers.  From happy to sad, excited to cranky.  After everyone shared how they were feeling, we talked about how it was ok to feel every emotion that we have.  We also talked about how all our emotions feel very different, but that there are no “bad” emotions.  We read the book The Way I Feel by Janan Cain, and paused on every page to discuss the emotion displayed.  We talked about what our bodies and faces do when we experience different emotions, and how we can tell how other people are feeling by their body language and facial expressions.  We also brainstormed what things we can do when we feel very big, sometimes difficult emotions.  The kids came up with many great ideas from taking turtle time when you are feeling mad, to finding your mom, dad, or teacher for comfort when feeling scared.  Another child said that when she feels frustrated that she lays on the floor and takes big breaths.  The children related to each other, and were very empathetic of each others scenarios.  I had planned to play Feelings Charades with the kids, but they were so engaged with our emotions discussion that we ran out of time before being able to play.  We also played a quick game with Barry the Breathing Bug where friends had to guess which bell I rang by listening to the tone.

Mindfulness at Home!

With fall all around us, going for a mindful fall walk is a fun and relaxing way to notice the changes that are happening.  From the changing colors of leaves, the smells of the damp ground, the new chill in the air, or the sound of leaves crunching underfoot: there are endless things to look, listen, and even smell for on a beautiful fall walk.

Take the time to talk to your kids about big emotions.  You can talk to your child about what you notice with their body or face when they are feeling different emotions.  How do you  display your emotions?  Are they the same or different from how other people look or sound when they are experiencing an emotion.  Talk about what you and your kid can do when feeling big emotions.  A fun game to play is guess the emotion! (Feelings Charades)  You could either use cards displaying emotions to act out, or just act out different feelings at random with your kid.  Another fun activity to do is to use a mirror or camera to capture different emotional states, and then show your kid later what they look like when they were in that moment.  All of these activities can help foster growth in recognizing and working through our powerful emotions, and cultivate a better understanding that are a big part us!

Turtle Time with Tuck

This week in mindfulness we got our bodies moving with some yoga and dancing!  We started mindfulness by ringing the bell, and then I talked a little about how we were going to use our whole bodies to tell a story… with yoga!  Our yoga story began with climbing a mountain.  Once on the mountain we pitched our tent, and then began our hike.  On the way we saw trees, a hawk, mountain lion, fox, a lizard that wiggled off into a cave, bats, and a turtle!  For every animal along the way we did a different pose.  Mountain lion was some cat and cow poses, and fox was a downward dog pose, and the cave was a bridge pose just to name a few.  We made sure to breath into each of the poses.  After our hike, a turtle crawled into our tent to tell us a story.  The turtle, whose name is Tuck (some of your children have met Tuck before!)  told us a story about a friend in his classroom who smashed the puzzles that he had been working so hard on.  Tuck was so mad that he couldn’t even think straight.  Luckily his teacher showed him how to do turtle time.  Turtle time is where you tuck into your “shell” and take at least three big breaths to help you calm down.  Many of the kids during our lesson today reminded me that even though they don’t have a real shell, they can still tuck to take some time – and breaths.  We practiced by dancing, but every time I said “turtle time” we stopped, tucked, and took three big breaths!  Turtle time can also be helpful for calming down the sillies, or taking some space when we are feeling sad.  The beauty of turtle time is that you can do it almost anywhere!  We talked about telling a parent or teacher first that you need turtle time so they know, and can even help you find a space to take some turtle time.  We ended our lesson by taking three big breaths with tuck the turtle and the bell.

 Mindfulness at home!

Even if you are not a seasoned yogi, you can still practice by using your body to mimic animals or other things in nature.  If you ask your kids to make a cave or a snake with their bodies you might be surprised what they do.  Yoga can be adaptive and unique to every individual.  If you would like to try and follow some more traditional poses there are some great yoga flash cards and books that are geared towards kids, and fun for adults too!  Yoga Pretzals – yoga flash cards, Peaceful Piggy Yoga – book, Yoga for Kids – book are a few to keep a lookout for.

 Turtle time is an easy one to practice.  Start by doing something fun, but also gets your heart beating.  You can think of your own cues whether it’s saying “turtle time” or making some noise to indicate to stop, tuck, and take some breaths.  If you are adventurous try initiating turtle time at the park, or even your favorite restaurant (especially when things start to get a little silly)  Be creative with your child and talk about scenarios where turtle time would be helpful for you and them!