Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stretching My Classroom Practice with Yoga

So the last time I blogged, I was in rainy Croatia. Well a lot has changed since then! After another whirlwind month of travel in Rhodes (Greece), Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, I'm back in Canada. And more importantly, I'm back in the classroom!

My friend Britta is on maternity leave, and the timing worked out absolutely perfectly. I returned home on Monday, and the following Monday, I was in Miniota Elementary School teaching kindergarten! It's a kindergarten-Grade 8 school of 8 students, and I have 9 adorable and well-behaved kindergarten students whom I teach on even days. On odd days, I'm doing literacy support and Grades 1-6 art. In February, the position changes to full-time kindergarten which I'm really excited about! In addition to my new kindergarten position, I'm going to teach yoga at the Zen Zone in Brandon starting in January. I couldn't be happier with how everything has worked out!

Now that I'm a certified hatha yoga teacher, I've been really eager to integrate aspects of yoga into my classroom practice. Kindergarten kids need lots of opportunities for movement and this little group is no exception. Over the last few weeks, I've done lots of reading on how to teach children about mindfulness, meditation, and breathing, in addition to yoga poses. I've found some great resources and articles at Do You Yoga and Namaste Kid that have helped me plan learning experiences that include yoga poses and breathing. Take a look at our first yoga-infused literacy activity today!

Our calendar activities involving the weather led into a discussion of dressing properly for the weather. We talked about how mittens are an important, and often misplaced, article of winter clothing! Next we read Jan Brett's book "The Mitten" and viewed this video. We discussed the sequence of animals in the story, and then retold it using yoga poses! I couldn't believe how well this worked and how much the students enjoyed it. We removed our shoes and socks and each found our own space on the carpet. I was in front of the carpet on my own yoga mat.
Balasana (child's pose) with arms extended above our backs to look like the rabbit's ears
Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) with one leg extended to represent the fox and his tail. We repeated this on the other side.

Other poses included malasana (squatting pose) to show the owl landing on his glinty talons, camel pose with hands on our lower back to look like a spiny hedgehog, and child's pose with our arms wrapped around our heads to show the mouse curled up on the bear's nose. For the bear's sneeze, we did some big belly breaths, ending with a huge AAAACHOOOO! We ended the story sitting in easy pose with our hands in prayer position to represent the roof of Nicki's cozy warm house, followed by savasana. I was impressed by how long the boys and girls were able to remain still and silent in this resting pose. As soon as we were done, they asked to act out the story again, so we went through the sequence of poses one more time.

The students were enthusiastic and engaged and there was a strong bodily-kinesthetic component as we retold the story. The yoga poses provided a great support in sequencing the story as well--all I had to do was go into the animal's yoga pose and they immediately connected it with the character. There were also opportunities to engage in deep breathing, and the activity ended with quiet relaxation in savasana. I think we'll do this story and yoga sequence another time, and include some sorting, classifying, patterning, and art activities too.

Stay tuned as I continue to stretch my classroom practice with yoga!

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