As teachers we know that we always need to be prepared for the unexpected. Carefully planned lessons are often interrupted by unavoidable disruptions and we are left with time that has not been planned for, an extra 10 minutes after a fire drill, a canceled prep time, or that 15 minutes before lunch when your students have lost their “steam.” There are lots of ways teachers can fill in this gap time, for instance, having students finish work they have they haven’t completed, doing a read aloud, even watching a movie or video. Every teacher has their own toolbox for moments like this. As a Mindfulness Educator, I started to think of ways to use these “gap” moments to practice mindful awareness in fun and creative ways.
Here are a few of my favorite:
Spread the Love- Compliment Project
In this activity students take turns being in the “hot seat” while their classmates write compliments on the board behind them. This activity only takes about 5 to 10 minutes per student, which means it would be something you could squeeze into the end of a class period. Be sure though, if you start this project you will eventually have time to get to each student in class.
Pass the Cup
This is a fun mindful game to sharpen concentration, practice empathy, and build your classroom community. Students are asked to silently pass a cup full of water without spilling. The first round tends to build confidence, but as you play you can increase the challenge. The second time you play try doing it with eyes closed.
Watch here to learn more about this game.
The Slow Race
The slow race is game where you and your students see who can walk the SLOWEST across a room. You can make it fun by being silly and enjoying the competition of who can be slowest. This is a great game to use when kids need to calm themselves down or when they’re overwhelmed and distracted. The slow race can help them feel more centered and grounded. It will help them slow down.The key is to keep it simple, lighthearted, and fun.
The slow race should last no more than 3 minutes.
Explore the work of the artist Michael Grab. Have students watch as he creates amazing sculptures out of rocks. As he builds the sculptures you and your students can notice how focused and calm he is as he works. You might ask how frustration would affect his work.