Mindfulness Blog

Updated – 5/2/22

This week we continued to talk about filling buckets.  We read the book, “The Thankful Book” by Todd Parr.  This book shares different things we can be thankful for.  During this lesson we talked about how we can fill our own buckets.  Sometimes it is good to have a good thought about yourself.  

 
This week was also a day for a mindfulness party.  It took a while to figure out what that looks like. We ate monster cookies.  (I heard a child in another classroom ask for those in the last week.). This of course meant some mindful eating in which the children noted the textures, colors, smells, taste, all of the observations of the cookie piece.  Even that I cut it into a small triangle.
 
We finished up with a 30 second dance party.  This was a chance to celebrate yourself and be thankful for who you are.

 

Updated – 4/25/22

The last two weeks we focused at MCS on filling buckets.  Two weeks ago we read, “How to Fill a Bucket Today”.  This book is all about how to fill peoples’ buckets.  You can say kind things or do kind things.  There is a secret, though.  If you fill someone’s bucket, you can fill your own.  If you dip someone’s bucket, so you try to take from their bucket, you dip your own bucket.

 
Each class was given a paper bucket.  During our circle we added some words of how buckets have been filled. We focused on not sharing how we filled a bucket, but how someone else filled our bucket.  These papers went to the classrooms to have words added during the week.
 
Last Friday we revisited these buckets.  Together we shared ways we filled buckets.  We also spent a little time adding things we maybe forgot to add.  My very favorite was a child letting us know she was proud of saying kind words to her mom, more specifically that she wanted her mom to know she hopes her mom survives extinction because she loves her.  
 
After that we read a book about Randy the Beautiful Horse.  Randy feels beautiful, strong and proud.  He goes on an adventure.  During the adventure he questions if he is beautiful and strong. He then realizes he is an adventurer, and is beautiful and strong.  We talked about how we can fill other peoples’ buckets, but we can also fill our own by saying kind words to ourselves and believing in ourselves.  It brought great smiles to me hearing what makes your children proud of being who they are.
 

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Updated – 2/14/22

 

What a fun lesson this week!  We read a book titled, “The Grumpy Monkey”.  Monkey is quite grumpy, but doesn’t realize it.  His friends notice his shoulders are hunched, his eyebrows are curled, his face isn’t smiling but rather frowning.  He stomps.  He even uses a strong voice.  Grumpy Monkey even tries smiling and pretending, but the children noticed his smile was not genuine.

 
His friend, Norman, who is a guerilla, ends up dancing with a porcupine, as one does.  Norman gets quills in his bottom.  Grumpy Monkey asks Norman if he is  grumpy.  Norman notes that he is not grumpy, but sad.  But that is ok, because he will feel better soon.  Grumpy Monkey notes that he is actually grumpy, but will feel better soon as well.  Just saying that made him start to feel better.
 
After the story, the children were able to pretend to be grumpy monkeys.  They had egg shakers and scarves.  They could make noise and stomp.  When they heard the bell they took deep breaths.  Then turned back into grumpy monkeys.
 
We ended with pictures of us when we are grumpy.  The children really depicted themselves quite well.  A couple of children even asked if they could draw where they go when they are grumpy.  They worked very hard and were very focused. We all feel frustrated at times.  Being able to depict this hit a chord with the children.
 

Updated – 1/31/22

 It has been a short bit, my friends!  

Two weeks ago we read a story called, “The Love Letter”.  In this story, a love note gets passed back and forth between friends. They all feel really special knowing someone appreciated them.  At one point they get in an argument because no one knows who the letter really belongs to, and the letter breaks into pieces.  A mouse comes along and notes that he wrote the note to the moon. He is a small mouse out in the dark, and the moon is his friend and protects him.  The children do love this story.  
 
The children then wrote love letters themselves.  This could be to a fellow student, a teacher, a parent, a grocery store clerk… whoever they felt they wanted to feel appreciated.  One room had all children choose to write their mothers.  One boy asked how to write his mom’s name, then noted that was a silly question, as he can write “M O M”.  One friend wanted to write  the word “love” in the corner.  
 
This week we read a book titled, “Peaceful Piggy Yoga”.  This book follows how pigs like yoga.  Anyone can like yoga.  Football players use it to be strong.  Ballerinas use it to learn balance.  Babies use it to learn how to hold their head up while on their belly.  So many benefits.  
 
We then used some dice new to the school.  The children each had a turn to drop a foamy dice (meaning it bounced and you did not know what would be the end result…  so exciting!), and I did the same with a dice that let us know how many seconds we held a pose or how many steps we took for a movement activity.  We were frogs, bears, warriors and trees.  You name it.  The children practiced being still, as well as intentional movement.  
 
It is always a delight to work with your children.  Thank you for sharing them with me!
 

Updated – 1/18/22

This is a double update!  I was out for one Friday.  This week the children did the raindrop lesson.  We read a story about taking time.  When the story was done, we laid on the ground as still as could be.  We took the time to try to take some deep breaths and be still.  I know in my classroom, this was challenging.  We had the giggles and kept asking why the raindrops kept falling off.  We may revisit this lesson.  

 
This last week we read a book about how a pencil and an eraser became friends.  At first the pencil kept getting frustrated by the eraser, as the eraser seemed to enjoy the friendship.  After a bit of time, they learn to work together, use words, and that is how the eraser became the top of the crayon.  
 
After the story, we made bead bracelets.  The challenge was that you do not get to keep the bracelet.  We drew names and you shared your bracelet with another child in your classroom.  The children did so well with this!  They really knocked my socks off. 

 

Updated – 12/13/21

This week we read the book, “When Sophie Gets Angry- Really, Really Angry.  This book talks about what it feels like to be angry and how we can deal with anger.

 
We then journal about what it means for us when we are angry.  It was quite interesting to see how each classroom had a focus, but the focus was different in each classroom.  Some just chose ‘mom’ as what they do when they are angry.  Some classrooms drew themselves as angry.  One class came up with some examples that I don’t know if they can or have truly occurred, but it is what they feel when they are angry or upset.  
 
It was a truly informative lesson. 
 
 

 

Updated – 12/6/21

Hi Families!

 
This week we took the opportunity to talk about things we can do to help the world.  We read a book called ’10 Things I Can Do To Help My World.”  This book talks about different things we can do consistently to help our planet.  Ideas include turning the water off while you brush your teeth, picking up trash, recycling.  
 
We turned this conversation over to the food drive.  We can help people who maybe cannot get all the foods that we do at home.  What is something your child would gift someone if they needed some food?  In Particular, what are some of your favorite foods?  Something you enjoy and would really like someone else to share.
 
Ideas were everywhere, and quite enjoyable.  Pomegranate, blue box macaroni, my mom, a waterslide, and of course noodles!  It was really fun seeing how each classroom ended up with a different kind of focus on what it was they would bring.
 
Thanks for your donations for the food drive.  Also, thanks for letting your children be a part of this process.  If you have any questions about the food drive, don’t hesitate to ask.  
 
Cheers,
Kristal
 

Updated – 11/22/21

This week we read a book about being Thankful.  Ted Parr is one of my favorite authors and he has a perfect book to hit this season.  We read about all of the things he was grateful for, and then decided what we were grateful for in our lives.  

 
The children had so many great ideas!  Some were thankful for their parents.  Some were thankful for their beds or having food.  I was thankful for a couple close friends and my dad.  
 
It is really fun seeing how the children grasp these lessons.  They go full on in.  Mindfulness circles may be the most serious of circles of the week.  It always makes me smile.
 
I hope you all find ways to share gratitude this week, and always.  
 
Cheers,
Kristal

 

Updated- 11/8/21

This week we had Whitney as a guest Mindfulness instructor!  She revisited the Quiet Place book, which talks about where our quiet places are.  They can be anywhere.

 
Children listened to the book and drew their quiet places.  Some children reflected on quiet places at home.  Some children continued to learn how to find a quiet place in their bodies to join circle or the activity.  This is one skill we work on at school.  How to be present in the moment.  
 
Each child took away their own lesson, as always.  and enjoyed our special guest teacher.  

 

Updated- 11/1/21

Hi families!

 
This week we decided to talk about emotions.  We have had a few bog emotions pop up,. which is not unusual for this time of year.  
 
Each class reach the book, “When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry,” by Molly Bang.  
 
In this book a sibling takes a toy out of Sophie’s hand, which is obviously frustrating.  She falls over a toy, which can make us sad/grumpy/angry.  Sophie decides to go find a space to be where she can calm down.  After some time, she comes back to her living room where her family is happy to open their arms and embrace her.  
 
After the story, we used FEELEZE cards to play charades!  Children could choose an emotion they wanted to share.  Each child could decide to act out the emotion or just show it.  We had some good actors!  One of my favorite moments was when a feeling was shown that I would say excited, but a child yelled yout that picture was ‘ecstatic!”   Not only a good word, but a great chance to talk about how we all feel emotions differently.
 
Thank you again for sharing your children with me.  

 

Updated- 10/25/21

There were no formal mindfulness lessons this week as it was a PIR weekend.  But there was no lack of mindfulness from the MCS Community.

This week we moved the playground from the back area where it has always lived to the front yard.  This of course not only took lots of planning and working together, but expertise from our MCS community and manual labor at a level that exceeds any volunteer levels that we typically ask for.  
 
It was truly wonderful to see the community come together to make this playground move happen and make sure the children had somewhere on the property to roam.  We saw current staff and current parents.  We also saw former staff (in the form of director and staff) as well as a former teacher, and a former parent/board member show up to lend a hand.  We also saw a friend who just wanted to see what being a superhero of kindness really felt like.  
 
We could never have done this without everyone’s help. If you were on a tour I would have told you that mindfulness is about 
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Focus
These are all true.  But at the end of the day, it is about compassion and caring.  And you all shared that.  It filled many buckets.  
 
Thank you all so much for your help.  It takes a village, and we definitely have one!
 
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Updated- 10/18/21

Hi families!

 
We had wonderful mindfulness lessons this week focussed on being kind.
 
We read “Have You Filled a Bucket Today”.  This book talks about how to be kind and show kindness throughout your day.  You can fill someone’s bucket by doing an assortment of things (saying thank you, hi, holding the door open).  You can also dip someone’s bucket by doing an assortment of things (saying something to hurt their feelings, pushing them or grabbing something from them).
 
Each class had great examples of real life situations where their bucket was filled or dipped.  It is really hard when someone tries to take a shovel out of your hand, or when you were running to a swing and someone got there first.  Most days at mindful eating we say how we appreciate who packed our lunch, but sometimes you aren’t a fan of what is in your lunch.  Lots of ways to feel frustrated.  
 
The secret is if you fill a bucket, you fill your own bucket as well.  If you dip a bucket, you dip your own as well.  You get to choose if you are a bucket filler or a bucket dipper.
 
We then talked about the playground move, and how so many people are helping make this happen.  With some paper, markers, and of course stickers…  we made thank you cards for people who are helping our new playground come to fruition. The children had great words to share.  Some were more general, “I like that you are moving the playground.”  Some were a little more forceful, “Thank you for moving the playground today.”  But the sentiment of thank you and filling a bucket was included in each and every card.  
 
One child said, “I’m really good at filling buckets! I do that every day!”  This was a true statement.
 
I know many families do thankfuls at dinner or before bed.  Asking your child to tell you one bucket they filled is a great way to add to your discussion, and bring this idea of making conscious choices to be kind, into your conversations.
 
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Updated- 10/11/21

 

Hi families,

 
Today’s mindfulness lesson was so fun.  We talked about space place.
 
Each classroom has a space place.  This is where you get space if you need it.  Sometimes we need space if we are too excited, maybe upset, or just are upset that we wanted honey not jelly on our sandwich.  The space place is a great area to go to where we can all take a breath, collect ourselves, and come back.
 
We read a Quiet Place by Douglas Woods.  (Illustrated by Dan Andreasen).  This book talks about all of the places you can find space.  A pond.  A mountain top.  Even home.  But we can know we always have a space place we carry with us.  This is a deep breath that always stays inside of us.
 
Every classroom has a ‘tool box’ with tools at their space place.  They brought their tools in to share with my how they get space in their classroom.  It was fun to see what all the classrooms have, and to share some of our classroom’s favorite tools.  
 
Children then drew their home space place.  We talked about how this can be a space anywhere inside or outside of home where they can find space.  The pictures are so fantastic!  (The teachers kept them for portfolios.)  Most children chose their room, their bed, or under their bed.  I believe most of the Tree Room chose mom as their space place.  
 
I encourage you to find a space place in your house for your child.  Sometimes it is even a closet.  But a place where they can get space.  I also encourage you to tell children if you need space.  This is a great skill to learn, as well as learning how to take that breath.  
 
Cheers,
Kristal
 

Updated- 10/4/21

What a peaceful and enjoyable mindfulness Friday.

 
This week we talked about Mindful Eating.
 
We started by reading a book, “If You Hold a Seed”, by Elly Mackay.  This book talks about how a young boy plants a seed and sets a wish.  He waits while the seed grows.  The sun comes, rain comes, and he waits patiently.  It grows.  Seasons change again and the leaves fall, so he waits through the winter.  But, surprise!  When spring and summer hit, the seed starts growing again, and grows bigger.  It goes through seasons and seasons until it is a tree big enough to hold him.  This is pretty exciting.
 
After the story we talked about our food.  Some food can be grown here, some cannot.  Some of us even have gardens!  My chives and cilantro did good this year.  My strawberries and snap peas need another year to start growing a little better.
 
We also spoke to how the raisins got here.  I noted I had concord grapes but those make better jelly.  I think different grapes turn into raisins.  It was surprising how many children knew a grape was the start of a raisin!  We also spoke to how these may not be able to grow here, and can definitely grow here in the winter.  This means someone has to drive it to Missoula.  One friend guessed they may have come from a ship over the ocean.  Mom’s and Dad’s, or Aunts, Uncles, friends, or in my house sometimes Grandpa, help bring food from the store to the house.  Or even make your food or pack it.  
 
Each child held a raisin and spoke to how it felt or smelt.  Sticky and sweet were two words used a lot.  Children then had a chance to mindfully eat the raisin (so we don’t eat it fast, and we think about what comes to mind.)  Fuzzy, sweet, and juicy were the three biggest words used.  
 
Children really like mindful eating.  It is always a great practice to bring home as well.  It can be with a bell and breath, and a designated time to think about a food.  Like today.  Or it can just become part of your daily conversation.
 
Thanks again, as always, for sharing your children with me,
Kristal

 

Updated- 9/27/21

Hi families,

 
This week for mindfulness we worked on ocean breaths.  
 
We read a book called ‘Each Breath a Smile”.  This talked about taking time to take a breath.  We are lucky enough to have a bunch of turtles that were sewn and are very attractive.  We put them in the ‘belly of the ocean’.  (This is our belly button.) We took deep breaths, for calm oceans.  We took fast breaths, which is like ‘hurricane season’.  The children did great!  They really liked watching and feeling their turtles ride the waves.
 
Each group is different.  So for some, this is what we did.
 
For a couple of other groups, we were able to also do another body control activity.  We listened to 
“The Long Way Home’ by Nora Jones.  I started by doing some movements and they followed.  The children then chose a movement for us all to follow, that went with the song.  It was really fun to see what children chose, and particularly watching them to take some time to think of what they wanted demonstrate.  
 
As always, I enjoy the ability to work with your children on Fridays.  This was a great lesson.  Next week we will work a little on mindful eating.  
 
Cheers,
Kristal

 

Updated- 9/20/21

A quick note from the office:

Wednesday, September 22 at 6pm, we will have a Mindfulness (Virtual) Open House! Join Kristal to learn more about how we integrate Mindfulness into the curriculum, daily activities, and how these skills benefit your kiddos!

Here’s the link for the meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86569009108?pwd=Q1RlVkhhSldzNU1JdDdjMVRQdGxZQT09

Hope to see you there!  -Kasey

 

Hi families,

This week felt like the perfect week to do some animal yoga.  We always start by taking a deep breath (or two) at the beginning of circle. Today, We read the story, “Zoo Zen”, written by Kristen Fischer and illustrated by Susi Schaefer.  In this story, a young girl learns yoga from animals at the zoo.
 
The first thing she does is lay out her mat.  We have little mats the children can use for activities like this.  Each child laid out their mat.  We talked about how the trick to this book is we need to be able to come back to these calm bodies after we do an animal pose.  
 
Children got to pose as a bear, snake, eagle, lion, camel, crocodile, dolphin, gorilla, lizard, frog, and flamingo.  Some of the poses are easy, some are a little trickier.  We read a page of the book and then did that animal’s pose.  Sometimes the animals did something funny after the pose, like the frogs bounced to a new lily pad and the snakes slithered.  But they always returned back to their restful pose.  
 
After finishing an animal we would sit back down and do an animal breath that we thought matched the animal.  The bear took a deep breath then did an inside roar on the breath out.  The snake took a deep breath in and hissed on the brought out.  The gorilla was a favorite as we gently pounded our chests on the breath out.  A great follow up is to ask your child what their favorite animal and/or breath was.  Another great follow up is to look up more animal poses or come up with some of your own.
 
Thanks for sharing your children with me!

 

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Updated- 9/15/21

Hi families,

 
What a wonderful first week of mindfulness!  I really do treasure the fact that I am able to still send time with all of the classrooms.
 
Today we read the book, “Take the Time”.  This book talks about taking the time to observe what is going on around you and taking time.  It can be playing with friends, when you are sad, when you wake up, or anytime.  
 
After reading the book, we took breaths with the breathing ball.  This is a fun tool that we have at school and some families choose to have at home.  You take a deep breath while you expand the ball.  You exhale as you shrink the ball back up.  This also needs to be done so slowly and carefully.  
 
Children had an opportunity to draw a picture of a time they take time to take a breath.  These will be part of your child’s portfolio.  But they each drew a picture and tried writing their name!  
 
For those who chose to give it a try, they could try their hand at ringing the bell.  You have to do it calmly and take a deep breath.  
 
I’m looking forward to working with your children this year!  
 
Cheers,
Kristal
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