Gratitude Journal

This week our camp theme was gratitude. At Camp Gratitude we made mini gratitude journals. When children think of things they are grateful for it activates the calming part of the nervous system. This helps children to feel not only calmer, but happier. With school getting ready to start, now is a perfect time to make the gratitude journal a healthy habit. Every morning, before school, have your child write or draw one thing he is grateful for in a journal or on the bathroom mirror. What a great way for a child to start, not only their day, but their new school year!

Here are a few prompts to get you started. Ask her to write or draw about:

  • A person you appreciate.
  • A place that makes you happy.
  • An item you love (e.g., backpack, waffles, bike).
  • A skill or ability you are awesome at.
  • A person who makes you laugh.
  • Your favorite song.
  • Something that you accomplished that made you feel good.
  • A sport or hobby you enjoy.
  • A pet you love.
  • A teacher who showed you kindness.

Benefits

Learning to be grateful helps children to develop executive function skills, which are higher level cognitive skills needed to self-regulate. Being grateful increases mindfulness and compassion for others. Being grateful can shift your child’s mood and enhance her overall well-being.

What to Say

  • Did you know that practicing being grateful can make you feel happier and healthier?
  • Each morning think of one thing you are grateful for and write or draw it.
  • Notice how you feel.

Check out our mini gratitude journal from Camp Gratitude.

Want to learn more ways to help children be grateful?  Sign up for  Mindful Child Teacher Training or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., Mindfulness for Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018

Health Benefits of Summer Camps

Kid’s today face daily stresses on the mind and body. Summer camps are a great way for kids to unplug from technology, reduce stress and enhance physical and mental health. Way to go summer camps!

Here are some of the recognized benefits that our yoga + mindfulness summer camps can provide your child:

  • Boosts Brain Power! Science tells us yoga and mindfulness can promote healthy brain development and boost resilience.
  • Builds Life Skills. Yoga and mindfulness helps children learn self-control, kindness, gratitude, patience, and other important life skills.
  • Cultivates Learning. Children need to move to learn. Cross-lateral movements integrate both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • Reduces Stress. Mindfulness teaches kids to be less reactive to daily stressors. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is quick way to calm the nervous system. The best part is kids can do it anytime and anywhere.
  • Promotes Strength and Flexibility. All of your child’s bodily systems are supported by movement. Yoga strengthens and stretches your child’s entire body.
  • Inspires Happiness. Research tells us a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice produces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that plays in an important part in your child’s mental health. Increased GABA leads to feelings of relaxation and happiness. Yay GABA!

This blog focuses on the benefits of our Mindful Child camps, but camps, in general, are a wonderful way to promote health and reduce screen time. Regardless of the camp you choose, most summer camps have many character building experiences and offer exercises that build confidence and self-esteem. They are also a great way to explore different hobbies without a long term commitment.

Boat Pose

Pretending to be a boat is an amazing way for your child to build strength and stamina. When you add rowing and singing, your child’s brain is being stimulated, too. Want more of a challenge? Add a partner!

What are the Benefits?

Boat Pose strengthens the core, which is fundamental to all movement and to learning, because children will begin sitting up straight at their desks instead of slumping. It stretches the hamstrings and improves digestion. Not to mention that it is also fun to do!

What to Say

  • Did you know your core or tummy muscles are what help you sit up tall so you can learn? We are going to make those muscles strong by making our bodies into boats.
  • Sit with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands underneath your knees. Lift your feet off the floor, like the prow of a boat. Let go of your knees and hold out your arms alongside your knees. Lean backward a bit to find your balance.
  • As you imagine your boat gliding down the stream, place your palms together in front of your heart. Be a peaceful, mindful boat. Close your eyes. What do you feel?

Mindfulness Challenge

For an extra challenge, make it a partner pose. Partner boat is great for enhancing social skills and teamwork. If partners don’t work together to create a strong boat it will sink!

Mindfulness Variation

For young children or children with special needs, play a recording or sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Tell the children, “As you sing, paddle your boat down the stream by bringing your arms to one side and then the other. Sing the song as many times as you can!”

Want to learn more? Join us this summer for our mindful child yoga teacher training!

Do It Yourself Shuffle Bubbles

Shuffle Bubbles are bubbles made from a solution that is stronger than typical bubble solution so it doesn’t pop as easily! Children can actually catch and pass the bubbles. Parents can make the solution using the recipe below or buy an inexpensive Shuffle Bubble set online. Shuffle Bubbles is also a good lesson in self-control. Children love popping bubbles, but in Shuffle Bubble we want the bubbles to last as long as possible, so they must demonstrate impulse control and not pop the bubbles.

Bubble Materials

  • Bubble Catching Gloves
  • 1 cup Dish Soap (Dawn Original Dish Soap works best for bubbles)
  • 1/4 Cup Glycerin Oil (can buy this at Amazon or Hobby Lobby)
  • 2 Tablespoons White Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Bubble Solution

Bubble Blower Materials

How to Make a Bubble Blower

  • Bunch up five straws.
  • Hold them tightly.
  • Wrap decorative tape around the straws at the top, middle, and bottom.

Benefits

Blowing bubbles helps children relax. Catching the bubbles and shuffling them to a friend increases focus, social skills, and enhances cooperative play. Shuffle Bubbles develops executive functioning skills, which help children to self-regulate and show self-control

What to Say

We are going to wear magic bubble-catching gloves so that we can catch bubbles. Remember the goal is to catch the bubble, not to pop it. Let’s take three deep Balloon Breaths before we get started.

Slowly and mindfully blow a bubble. Catch the bubble in your hand and shuffle it to a friend. Be mindful when handling the bubbles because they will pop if you aren’t very gentle with them. Now let’s see how many times we can bounce the bubble back and forth before it pops.

Mindfulness Challenge

For an extra mindfulness challenge build a bubble tower in your hand! Hold your gloved hand out in front of you. Position your bubble blower so your hand is below it. Slowly let the bubbles drop onto your gloved hand. TADA! Behold your bubble tower.


Curious George Yoga

Books are a great way to teach children yoga and mindfulness. Children love Curious George because he is always on the move and getting into mischief. Read a short story such as Curious George by H.A. Rey and infuse it with yoga, breath work, and mindfulness. At the end of the story give your child a “pop quiz” on the content. Have them show you the yoga poses, breath work, and mindfulness activities they remember, as they explain what happened in the story. 

For inspiration, here is a list of ideas from my book, Mindfulness for Children, to incorporate into Curious George:

  • Butterfly Breath (page 4)
  • Fruit Roll-Up (page 10)
  • Boat Pose (page 12)
  • Eagle Pose (page 16)
  • Fish Pose (page 22)
  • Cross Crawls (page 22)
  • Mummy Pose with Counting Breath (page 28)
  • Child’s Pose (page 38)
  • Cat/Cow Pose (page 42)
  • Balloon Breath (page 44)
  • Down Dog (page 44)
  • Tree Pose (page 54)
  • Lion’s Pose/Breath (page 54)

What are the Benefits?

Curious George Yoga enhances creativity, focus, and attention. It builds working memory and concentration, development of logic, and mindfulness. Reading Curious and doing the above poses promotes yoga pose practice and review. 

What to Say.

We are going to read a story about Curious George.  Curious George is always very curious and sometimes it is hard for him to stay out of trouble.  As we read the story we will engage in mindfulness and movement activities.  Sit up tall in Easy Seated Pose.  Ready?  Let’s begin.

Brain Challenge

After children have reenacted the story have them take it a step further by asking them what they think happened after the story.  Have your child show you what happened next with movement, breath, and mindfulness.

Mindful Nature Walk

What is Mindful Nature Walk?

Nature Walk is taking a walk with your child; however, he pretends he is walking in the wilderness. While on the walk your child will notice all the wildlife on the walk. The goal is to notice as many details about the birds, insects and other animals as they can. Giving your child a magnifying glass or binoculars really allows them to see bugs and birds up close and notice details they may have missed in the past.

What are the Benefits?

Nature Walk builds visual memory and visual observation skills. It helps children focus their attention and concentrate.Wildlife walk promotes mindful awareness and mindful movement.

What to Say.

  • Let’s go on a wildlife walk! As we walk through the wilderness we want to remain quiet and mindful. We will walk slowly so we don’t miss anything.
  • Turn your senses on high and notice all the birds, bugs and wildlife that you can. Remember we are always kind to our environment. Just notice the wildlife, don’t interact with it.
  • Use your magnifying glass or binoculars to watch the wildlife in silence and notice what it sounds like, how it moves, and what colors you see.
  • Afterward we will draw what we’ve observed so really pay attention and watch all the insects, animals, and birds that you find. Reflect on the Wildlife Walk by asking, “Was it hard to focus on just one thing? Which details were easier to remember? Did you notice something that you haven’t noticed before? What helped you keep your focus?”

Mindfulness Challenge

For older children, search for objects in nature to explore as well. Have them notice what it looks like, smells like, how it feels, and if it makes a sound. Ask them to remember as many details as possible. When you return from the walk ask your child to write down all the details they remember and reflect on the experience. Discuss ways mindful seeing connects to real life. You may ask, “How does mindful seeing help someone who has seen an accident? How does being mindful help you at school? What are jobs that require mindful seeing and memory skills?”

Want to learn more? Join us for our kid’s yoga and mindfulness teacher training this summer!

Reduce Stress with Spaghetti Body

What is Spaghetti Body?

Spaghetti Body is a relaxation technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation . Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. In this activity, kids tense and relax muscles while pretending to be uncooked and cooked spaghetti.

What are the benefits?

Spaghetti Body teaches children how to relax their muscles when they are tight. Research shows progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and stress. Additionally, Spaghetti Body helps improve attention, mindful awareness, concentration, and self-concept.

How to practice Spaghetti Body at home:

  • Make you body straight and tight like a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Glue everything together and squeeze.
  • Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
  • Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous.
  • Imagine that your uncooked spaghetti noodle is being placed in a pan of hot water. The noodle is wet and it begins so soften.
  • Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like a wet, warm, noodle. Wet noodles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
  • As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
  • Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet wiggly noodle.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
  • Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
  • I like to squeeze a fresh lemon on cooked spaghetti noodles. If you would like lemon squeezed on your noodle raise your hand I will put a cotton ball with lemon essential oil in it.
  • Ta-da – you are a cooked spaghetti noodle! Scan your noodle to make sure all the tightness is gone. Let your body feel relaxed and calm. Breathe in and out through your nose slowly. Notice how you feel.

At Mindful Child, we like to pair Spaghetti Body with Spaghetti Pose, which is an activity from Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, by Dr. Tracy. This adds extra benefits such as deep breathing, tactile discrimination, and flexibility.

If you’d like to learn more activities for home or the classroom sign up for the Mindful Child Teacher Training and become a kid’s yoga teacher!





A Mindfulness Activity to Improve Your Child’s Well-Being

What is Take Flight?

This mindfulness activity requires visualization and a good imagination.  Have your child imagine they are bird in flight.  As he is flying over the earth, ask your child to look down on all the things he is grateful for.  Next, have your child draw a picture of the bird flying over all the wonderful things he has to grateful for in his life. 

What are the benefits?

Visualization coupled with gratitude is a powerful combination to shift a negative mood to a positive mood.  Take flight is relaxing, enhances well-being, and encourages mindful reflection. 

What to Say.

Lay down in a comfortable position such as Corpse or Mummy Pose.  Close your eyes.  Let’s take a couple Elevator Breaths.  Imagine you’re a bird.  Think of what your bird looks like.  In your mind, form a picture of your bird.  Is he a small bird or a majestic eagle?  What color is your bird?  Now imagine that your bird has taken flight and is flying over the earth.  Your bird looks down and sees all the things you are thankful for.  Breathe in and out through your nose.  What does your bird see?  Picture the things that you are grateful for as your bird fly’s high overhead.  Remember to keep breathing in and out through your nose, as you picture your bird flying.  Slowly open your eyes and come to an Easy Seated position.  We are going to draw a picture that shows what your bird saw when he was flying. You can even add your bird flying over ahead.  Ready?  Let’s draw!

Want to learn more ways to help your child be mindful? Sign up for a workshop, yoga teachertraining, or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Daniel, T., (2018). Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids Avon, MA: Adams Media

Top Five Ways Aerial Yoga Decreases Children’s Anxiety

The combination of breathing, movement, and mindfulness is a powerful way to help your child de-stress.  Aerial yoga like all forms of movement moves emotions. The mind, movement, and breath are all connected to the relaxation response.  Children can reduce their anxiety through aerial yoga poses, breathing, and focus of the mind.

Here is some of the recognized benefits that aerial yoga at Mindful Child can provide for your child’s mental health.  Aerial Yoga:

  • Activates the quieting reflexes of the brain and nervous system. At the end of every mindful child aerial yoga class, children lay in fish pose. Fish pose provides sensory input in the form of tactile (touch), proprioception (deep pressure), and vestibular (movement), which, in turn, reduces stress and tension.
  • Encourages deep breathing. Using language that resonates with kids, incorporating the senses, and making breathing part of a story or obstacle course motivates kids to breathe deeply.
  • Enhances the relaxation response through movement and poses. Going upside down, when supported through the aerial yoga hammock, is calming to the central nervous system.
  • Introduces children to mindfulness. Simple mindfulness activities, in the aerial yoga hammock, provide children with tools to assist them in counteracting stress and anxiety in their daily lives.
  • Builds adaptive skills such as self-esteem and confidence. Aerial yoga requires strength and lots of practice to climb to poses.  When children see their effort pay off by being able to climb up the hammock – it teaches them that with persistence and effort they can achieve any goal!

If you want to learn more ways aerial yoga can decrease anxiety and enhance your child’s well-being sign up for a free trial class at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga.

Release Feelings of Well-Being With Fish Pose

What is Fish Pose?

Fish Pose is a graceful, but powerful back bend.  The gentle bend of the chest mimics the rounded back of a fish. Fish Pose can give relief to symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.  Young children or children with special needs may find fish pose challenging to get into, but it can be easily modified by having them lay on a small child bolster, rolled up mat, or blanket to provide the same benefits.

What are the benefits?

The opening of the chest, opens the heart releasing feelings of positivity and well-being. Fish pose reduces chest disorders and promotes a healthy heart. This pose can stimulate the thyroid, which increases metabolism.

What to Say.

We are going to be a fish! Lay on your back. Bring your knees into your heart center. Straighten your legs and glue them together. Slide your hands under your tail. Bring them close together with palms facing down. As you breathe in, push your elbows down. Point toes. Come onto the crown of your head. You are a fish! Take five deep breaths. Slowly release to the floor. Hug your hands around the knees or under the knees, bring them into the heart center. Rock and roll a few times side to side. Ah…feels good!

Want to learn more ways to help children be mindful?  Sign up for  Mindful Child Teacher Training or buy my book, Mindfulness for Children.

Reference

Daniel, T., Mindfulness for Children. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2018

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children