Calming Activities for Grades 1-4

Very often, the children come to class quite unsettled and excited. Before learning can begin, the teacher can make use of certain activities that can bring a sense of calm, grounding and focus. Here are some activities that I have used in class and have found quite useful
(My assumption is children are 6 years old in grade 1, 7 in grade 2, 8 in grade 3 and 9 in grade 4. Please assess the developmental level of your class before choosing the activities.)

  1. Using a bowl of flowers (G1, G2, G3)
    I take a bowl of flowers( usually scented like champa, parijatam or any other depending on season and availability) and pass them around the circle. The children know it is a pristine moment. They take a few seconds each to smell and look at the flowers before passing it on to the next child. The builds up silence and concentration needed for learning that is to come.

  2. Stretching (G1-G4)
    I use simple stretches before beginning a class if I feel the children seem to lack energy. The stretching and breathing helps in shaking of the lethargy.

  3. Becoming a Star(G1,G2)
    This is mostly for 5 to 7 year old children. I got this idea while I was reading one of Susan Perrow’s Healing Stories. In this story, a star doesn’t shine as brightly as the other stars in the sky. After repeated prayers, his godmother arrives and gives him so star dust which he must rub on himself everyday to become brighter. By repeatedly doing this, he begins to shine as brightly as the other stars in the sky. Children can be give some make-believe star dust and led to imagine themselves as the star in the night sky rubbing star dust on himself/herself. By touching their skin with their hands, they connect to their physical bodies, and become grounded. Another way is to touch and press each part of the body, sending it love or asking it to wake up.

  4. Brain Gym Activities like Thinking Caps (G1,G2)
    I ask the children to use pointer and thumb fingers to gently press their soft cartilage from the top of the ear to the ear lobe. I usually do this before narrating a story. I tell them they are opening their ears so that they can listen better:
    Find more information here: (208) Brain Gym Opening Exercises: Week 2 Day 2 – Thinking Caps – YouTube
    You can also find other Brain Gym activities on the same page. I haven’t used others regularly, but feel free to explore!

  5. Pebble Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh(G2-G4)
    This meditation is given by Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Handful of Quiet. Children need to get four pebbles, representing flower, water, space and mountain. They can be asked to paint it or decorate it any way they want before they are introduced to the meditation. To learn more about the meditation you can buy the book here: A Handful of Quiet : Nhat Hanh, Thich: Amazon.in: Books or read about how I have used it with children here.

  6. Listening to Music( G1- G4)
    I use music to end a class. I feel that ending the class with music helps both children and teacher to dissociate themselves from the class and create space for what it to come next. Children may seem restless when they are new to this rhythm. However, over time they might start enjoying the music. I select soft tunes played on the flute, piano or harp that can help them leave the class quietly and calmly. Here is one such reference: (208) Peder B. Helland – Calm Wind – YouTube

You can find more activities and ideas in the books/links below:

  1. Susan Kaiser Greenland | Mindfulness Exercises
  2. Awareness Through the Body: Books | Awareness Through the Body
  3. Books from Plum Village on Mindfulness for Children: Topic: For Children | Plum Village

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