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.
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.
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?
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!
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!”
Infinity Breathing is also referred to as Lazy Eight Breathing, which is a variation of a Brain Gym exercise. Brain Gym is a set of movements that ready the body for learning. For this exercise, use a dry erase board or for an extra sensory twist use organic instant pudding on a cookie sheet. Draw an infinity sign or a number eight laying on its side. Starting in the middle, your child will trace the left part of the eight while breathing in and the right while breathing out. As your child traces, make sure he keeps the middle of his body in the center of the eight. This will insure he is crossing midline.
What are the Benefits?
Crossing midline strengthens neural pathways between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Crossing midline is important for establishing hand dominance and many other academic skills. Playing in different textures increases the tactile sense, creativity and body awareness. It is also calming and relaxing.
What to Say.
Let’s trace our infinity sign five times with your index finger on your right hand. Breathe in as you move your finger left, breathe out as you move your finger the other direction. Great! Switch fingers. Trace five times with the left index finger. Fantastic tracing! Now let’s use both index fingers to trace the infinity sign ten times. What does the infinity sign remind you of? I see butterfly wings. Let’s create something out of our sign! To infinity and beyond!
Dennison, P. E. (1989). Brain gym: TEACHERS EDITION. Place of publication not identified: Edu-Kinesthetics.
Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children