Creating Calm in the Classroom

I love the activity "Listen to the Bell," and how it engages kids. I often use it to help students get the feeling of "sitting with their breath" for the first time. Giving them something to focus on outside of themselves is so helpful. You'll see in this video that kids of all abilities are able to easily participate. They love this. Love, love, love this.

This video was not edited down. I wanted you all to see a few things. Notice how engaged the kids are--even after being interrupted by an announcement. They return back to the practice so quickly. Also, notice how I try not to judge how Shawn leads the practice. He hits the bell too many times, he gets a little bossy with the other kids... and the world did not fall apart. As a teacher, I was being in the moment with him, and trying not to hold onto a rule or a certain way something needed to be. I just let it be. You might see how proud he is of himself. Such a cutie!!

Also notice that not all the kids are sitting in the same way, or even focusing on their breath. Yet there is a calm that occurs. You can see the peace that is created just by marking this space and being in this moment together.

I hope you can see the social implications for this kind of group activity. Allowing the kids to lead the practice gives them a chance to be in charge. I use this opportunity to talk about tone of voice, how people might follow a soft and kind leader--perhaps more readily than a bossy leader. The activity also allows conversations about judgment. Some people hear the sound for longer than others. That's okay. We don't need to judge other people or decide how their bodies react to something. We can simply be in the moment and let them have their own experience and their own peace.

Kids really like this part of the conversation, and you can see them repeating the phrase "Let me have my peace/ my moment." Sometimes they'll say, "Only I get to decide what is right for me." It's incredibly powerful. So many of my kids with different abilities feel so powerless. They are seen as different or "less than" others, and this idea of non judging can really transcend this moment and be a bridge to compassion. Even my little ones with language impairments want to lead this activity and volunteer. It's so motivating!

We frequently use a singing bowl and a chime for this activity and ask the kids to think about which sound they like best (fyi, the sound of the chime lasts longer). I prefer the chime with two bars to those with a single bar, but tone of the singing bowl is so pristine. I'll post links to each of those items so you have them. If anyone wants, message me and I can let you know the (very loose) "script" that I use with the kids.

It only takes One breath, One Moment, to return to calm.

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