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Exercises on emotions

Both adults and children are not used to observing what we really feel. We usually say we’re okay or we feel bad. It is necessary to learn to specify what it feels like and what emotion it is in order to be aware of the emotional reactions that emerge automatically. One important aim of these exercises is to increase our sensitivity to what is happening within us. Being aware of what is going on inside us is the first step in getting to know ourselves better and thus managing our responses with inner freedom and consistency with situations. We need to come to feel that our own emotional reactions lead us to give answers that have to do with our fears and not with the situation itself.

EXERCISE: OBSERVE-RECOGNIZE-LET GO THE EMOTIONS

Objective: Observe the emotion, recognize emotion, and let it go. Learn to let disturbing emotions pass.

Explain that emotions are neither good nor bad, even though we like some more than others. Just like pain, emotions come and go. When something hits us, it hurts. In the same way, we also feel emotions when we don’t like something: someone gets angry with us; our pet gets lost; a good friend moves somewhere else; we feel afraid or sad, but none of them lasts very long. Just like clouds moved by the wind.

How to do it: Sitting up comfortably or lying down. Eyes closed. The teacher will guide the exercise.  Start with a few minutes  paying attention to the breathing. Next the guide asks children to recall and relive a situation in which they felt an unpleasant emotion (like those mentioned above or others). They should feel how they felt in that moment.

Then they place the hand on the chest and notice what they feel, what is the name of the emotion they are feeling: sadness, loneliness, anger, pain, shame, fear? The guide says: There is nothing wrong in what you feel.

Observe what you feel and pay attention to the breath again and again until the emotion becomes smaller and smaller, until it has almost gone away.

Later, little by little, they open their eyes. Finally, invite them to comment about what they felt, their difficulties, and invite them to repeat it with different emotions.

Explain them that by repeating it, the unpleasant emotions will pass more quickly.

They can do it every time they feel bad, or when they feel nervous before a test.

EXERCISE:  MY BODY SPEAKS TO ME!  (only emotions)

Objective: Recognize own emotions and realize how emotions affect our body in different ways.

How to do it:

First let’s do a brief breathing exercise.

Sitting in a circle. The instructor asks, “How does my body tells me I feel …”

– …Happy

– …Scared

– …Angry

– …Afraid

– …Alone

– …that I feel loved

– …lost

– …that I did something bad

– …very content

– …bored

– …that I don’t understand something

We ask children to comment on each emotion what they feel in their body, where they feel it and how it is, in each case. The educator will have to help them to be specific according to the possibilities of each age.

EXERCISE: MAGICAL THEATER

Objective: The aim is to stage common situations of relationship  between children.

We make the children understand that in this magical theater everything will affect us as if it were real. But, in this MAGICAL THEATER, everything can be resolved with the MAGICAL IDEA: “Treat others the way you want to be treated”.

The objective is to relive daily situations in which the emotions and conflicts of their age appear. It is necessary to bring to life what each participant would feel if it were a real situation. By switching roles, the goal is to develop empathy by standing in someone else’s shoes. Performing the situation with the application of the MAGICAL IDEA should provide them with the skills to know what they feel and find real solutions to conflicts in relationships. By repeating this activity, kids should reach an understanding and respect other’s tastes, ideas or situations without offending or disturbing them.

How to do it: Example: Two children are the actors. One plays by himself because he wants to be alone. The other wants to play with him and the first tells him no. Develop the situation. Then, each one should say what they felt in that moment as if it were a real situation. Now they switch roles and they reenact it. Later, in light of the magic idea, we all think about how it could be played out so that everyone feels good.  When the new magical idea is developed, the children perform the scene with the new changes contributed by the group. Example: Two children. One is playing with some toys and the other, without care, hits the toys with a ball, and the first child gets mad.  Example: Two children. One child lent the other a game to take home for the day. He has not returned it and the first child thinks that his friend doesn’t want to give it back to him, and asks for it angrily. Example: Four children play a game. Another child wants to play too, but the four don’t let him.

EXERCISE: FLOATING WITH THE LIGHT

Floating with the light   (Relaxation – peace – love)

Objective: Generate emotional wellbeing and sharing it with others. Empathy and

How to do it:

Preparation for the exercise: Spend energy and relax.

In this session we will first spend energy. The children should run from one side of the classroom to the other, then do a windmill motion with their arms hanging free.  Lying face up with eyes closed. In this moment, the educator starts with the guided relaxation that  can be found in the tab Attention to the Body.

(First remind them that if any thought arises, they should let it pass as if the wind were carrying it away and continue relaxing.)

After the relaxation exercise they should feel calm and the guided exercise can begin.

Guide as follows: You see that an orange bright light is approaching your head. The light settles above your head and you feel its warmth. The light enters my head and I feel as if my forehead loosens up and my eyes float gently. The light continues lowering within my head to my mouth, my tongue, and down to my neck until it reaches my chest, where the light shines strongly and I feel happiness in my chest like what I feel when I am elated and content. I feel a great happiness in my chest just like I feel when I love someone very much. Feel it as intensely as you can and give that happiness to the people you love as if it were a gift. Think of your mother, your father, your brother, your friend, or maybe your puppy or kitty and give them what you feel. You sense that your happiness does reach them and make them happy. Feel it for as long as you like … (and then) slowly feel your body, your arms, your head, you move your toes, you feel your eyes, and open them little by little.

Finally, calmly ask them to comment on how and what they felt, and how they feel in this moment.

Invite them to repeat it e.g. when they go to bed.

The teacher could do this exercise one day weekly.

EXERCISE: WHO DRIVES THE BUS? 

Objective: Recognize how we react when an emotion drags us along. 

How to do it: More than an exercise, this is an idea for a classroom project, where you will work on emotions for a period of time.

The idea is to identify the person with a bus that will be driven by our emotions. I mean, I am the bus and I drive myself through life according to the emotions I have at every moment.

In order to do this, we first work with the children on the 4 basic emotions: fear, joy, sadness and anger.

They must be able to recognize them in themselves and how they behave when some of them drag them along.

For example: if I am very angry I can scream, knock, not listen, not understand others, etc.

Then we asked them how would you drive the bus if you were very angry? (Children should say how they imagine they would do it) Is there any danger if you drive like this? Discuss the dangers of driving the bus in this way with the children.

Do this job with every emotion.

Once you’ve done this part of the job, ask them if they think it’s a safe way to lead us. What can we do to drive better and not let ourselves be swept away by emotions?

The teacher will explain that the TRICK is to BECOME AWARE of which emotion is driving the bus. The educator explains that the bus has an intelligent system, but it doesn’t work if we don’t activate it intentionally. On the bus there is a button called BE AWARE and if we press it we (the bus) realize what emotion is driving. So, this intelligent system calms the emotions and the bus moves softly along the street (our life).

To represent all this, in the corresponding moment, the whole class will make a big cardboard bus and the 4 characters that will be the 4 basic emotions. Finally, when the time comes, the BE AWARE button will be placed. This way everything will work safely for the bus and all passengers.

Note: This project can be used to include the whole work of emotion recognition, or it can be done as the culmination of a previous work where children already know how to recognize emotions and have worked with them in their lives.

Exercises on thought

Exercise: Catching the thoughts
Objective: Watch the next thought to come. This exercise proposes the experience of being attentive, without simply doing nothing, waiting for the thought that will emerge. The goal is to pay attention intentionally, observe what the thought is about and let it pass, like a cloud dragged by the wind.
How to do it: After a brief relaxation exercise, the children pay attention and catch the thought that will appear, watch it and let it pass. After having done it, they continue paying attention till the next one emerges.
10 minutes can be enough, but it will depend on the age. We leave it to your discretion, but time must be sufficient for the experience to occur.
Dialogue: Ask children the following
Did you catch any thought?
How many?
What were they about?
When you were firmly paying attention ¿did any thought appear?
When you got distracted by anything ¿did thoughts appear more easily?

Notice that some children may have no thought at all by being very attentive. Take advantage of the situation to make them see that when they are attentive thoughts take time to appear, but when we get tired of attending, then thoughts appear even though we haven’t wanted to think about them. Ask them if they realized it.

EXERCISE: Pass the screen

Objective: To realize that we don’t think only when we want to, but many thoughts appear alone, without us wanting to think about them. That they often cause us discomfort, disgust, or distract us from something important that we want to do, but that we can learn a trick to make them go away.

How to do it: First of all, we will explain what is contained in the Goal point. Next we’ll use the simile of mobile phones or tablets: What do we do when we’re bored of a game we play on the tablet, cell phone or computer? Well, we’re moving on to another screen with something we like better. We explain that our brain is like a screen that shows us images and thoughts. When these thoughts or images cause us displeasure, we can realize that it does us wrong and WE PASS THE SCREEN, WE PASS THE SCREEN THAT SHOWS THAT THOUGHT. Here’s the trick: watch it and pass the screen. We’ll do better the more we practice it.
We invite children to sit with your back straight or lying down. With eyes closed, breathe quietly and wait for some thought or image to appear on our screen inside the head. We’re going to let some thought come up that makes us feel bad, something that scares us, sadness, shame, anger or other things. When it appears they observe it, see what it is, what this thought tells us and then we PASS THE SCREEN. Afterwards we remain calm by listening to our breathing.
Dialogue: Depending on the age of the children, we can discuss and ask them about their experience. Did any thought come up that upset us? Could anybody realize what that thought was telling us and what it made us feel? Did you pass the screen?
Explain that they can repeat the trick at other times, because practice is what will lead them to have the ability to not get “hooked” on negative thoughts. Explain that when something worries us and we think about it, it’s better to do something like ask and talk about it with someone you trust to help us understand what worries us.
Make them also notice that thoughts come and go unwillingly most of the time. Give them the task of observing the thoughts in their daily life for, then, talking about it in class. E.g. when going to school and going back home, when they are studying or in class, etc.

Exercises on body balance

Objective: Being conscious of the body through the balance.

Material: Tablespoons. Ping-pong balls. Scarves to cover the eyes.

How to do it: The children are placed at one end of the classroom with the spoon in hand and the ball on the spoon.

At the command of the monitor, they all walk until they reach the other end of the classroom, trying to keep the ball from falling to the ground. If the ball falls, the child starts again. The goal is to reach the other end without dropping the ball.

While exercising, the monitor should repeatedly remind them to feel the body, feel their feet firmly on the floor, and breathe slowly while walking quietly and with a straight and relaxed back.

Then the same is done but with the eyes covered with a handkerchief.

Dialogue: After all children have done the exercise well, ask them to explain what they did for not dropping the ball. (Relaxed, breathing calm, feeling the feet, the back, the hand, that is being aware of what was happening).

Exercise: We are models

Objective: Being conscious of the body through the balance.

Material: Books.

How to do it: Children are placed at one end of the classroom with a book on the head. The goal is to walk slowly to the other end preventing the book from falling. The monitor will remind them to feel the body relaxed and breathe calmly. The game is repeated until they improve their balance but what matters is that they feel their body in the space and they feel firm and aware in what they are doing. The important thing is to practice attention to the present, that is, to be in what they are.

If children’s age permits, objects can be placed on the floor with the aim of crouching and picking them up without dropping the book on their heads. 

Exercise: The conscious body balance

Objective: Being conscious of the body through the balance.

How to do it: Standing. Barefoot. In circle. We previously did the breathing exercise of The Cloud to quiet the children. They should feel their feet as if they were sinking on the ground, as if they were the roots of a tree. From this position and feeling firmly grounded, adopt one simple posture like the shown in the pictures below. All children are invited to breathe slowly, with your shoulders relaxed and feeling your body balance. Realize if you are tightening muscles that do not need to be tightened. Be ware of this and relax every muscle possible.

Make children notice that if they get distracted by anything, they will easily fall.

Go on, just do it!

excersice on body balanceexercise on body balance

Exercises on motion

EXERCISES ON THE BODY IN MOTION 

The aim of all exercises is to learn to be attentive to the body.  Each exercise has to be considered from that point of view. The body is the easiest objet to pay attention to.

Exercise: Glass of water

Objective: Realise the importance of paying attention

Explain that we often do things without really focusing on them, as if on autopilot, or do many things at the same time. The exercise will show us that when we don’t pay attention, something goes wrong.

Material: plastic glasses and water.

How to do it:  Sit down in circles of 5 people. Fill the glasses almost to the brim, just far enough that it’ll spill if they get distracted. Give each group a full glass to pass to one another, without spilling it.

Dialogue: When finished, ask questions about what happened.

At first, did we spill any water? Why did it happen? What distracted us? When we weren’t paying attention, did we spill more water? How did we make sure that we didn’t spill the water? When we’re paying attention to what we’re doing, do we feel calmer and can we pass the glass without spilling water?

Conclusions: What have we learnt? Not paying attention to what we’re doing has consequences and we do things wrong.

Exercise:  Walking in slow motion

Objective: Observe movement in slow motion and focus attention on the body

How to do it: Walk very slowly, as if in slow motion, without being theatrical. It is about walking very slowly, keeping our balance, putting one foot just in front of the other, leaving very little space between them.  Note the stepping down on the heel, until our toes touch the floor.

The moment that our bodyweight shifts to the foot we’ve put forward is when we start to lift the other foot, taking off from the heel to the toes, carefully.  If we get distracted us, we realise and start paying attention to the feeling of our feet again. exercise on motion

Dialogue: Ask: Did we get distracted? If we don’t pay attention in a relaxed way, do we lose our balance? If we rush, do we almost stop paying attention to our feet? Have we felt calmer walking whilst observing the sensations of our feet?

Exercise: We’re like magnets

Ask participants to choose a partner and face them. Treat the palms of their hands as magnets that cannot be separated. Next, choose the order in which one of them moves their hands and the other follows, without moving their hands away. After a while, change the order around so that the person who led can follow. Suggest making slow movements. You can play music that encourages slowness and softness Tell the person who follows their partner’s movements to pay attention to the movement and touch of their partner without thinking about anything. Let them lead and enjoy the movement. 

Exercise: We’re a snake

The educator ask the children to make a line in height order – smallest to tallest; resting their hands on the person in front’s shoulders. The first person crouches down and gets back up, the second goes down when the first gets up and so on and so forth, so it looks like a wave in motion.

Exercise: Tension / Relaxation

Objective: Learn what is tension/relaxation and their practice.

How to do it: The teacher explains the following to children:

Being able to relax comes in very handy in many situations in our daily lives.

There are times that we feel nervous, tense. For example:

  • – When our parents tell us off
  • – When we need to talk to foreigners
  • – When our teachers ask us the lesson
  • – When a boy or girl messes with us

Some children find that their hands sweat. Others find that their legs tremble, or that their heart beats fast.

What do you find happens to you? One of the things that usually happen when we are nervous is that we tense the muscles in our body. What are the muscles? ¿Do you know?

The muscles are tissue organs that serve to allow people to move. The muscles are like elastic rubber bands. Each time that you play, walk, run or do your homework, you are using these muscles.

Do you understand what “tensing” means? “Tensing” means to exert a lot of force with one or more muscles in our body. Imagine that we take a rubber band. If we stretch it, it becomes tense. If we let it go, it will loosen, “relaxed”. Relaxing is the opposite of tensing. Relaxing means not making any effort with our muscles, leaving them loose and being calm.

First, we will learn how to distinguish between tensing and relaxing. 

Practice  

Practical exercise: Arm 

I extend my right arm with my fist closed, and hold my fist for approximately 10 seconds. I observe what I feel (that is tension). Afterwards, I suddenly loosen my fist and my arm so that they go back into resting pose. I observe what I’m feeling (this is relaxation). A similar situation that we all know is when you really need to go for a wee and are holding onto it, contracting (tensing) the bladder. After a while, we go for a wee and feel much better (relaxed).

Facial relaxation exercises

Forehead: Wrinkle your forehead, raising your eyebrows…. Let your eyebrows fall down.

Eyes: Close your eyes tightly. Pay attention to where they feel tense. After 10 seconds, relax your eyes by suddenly opening them. Observe the difference between tension and relaxation.

Smile: Force a smile with your mouth and face. Feel which parts tense up (upper lip, lower lip and both cheeks). Then, relax. Enjoy the feeling.

Lips: Press your lips together and push them outwards. Focus on where you feel the tension. Relax your lips. 

Neck relaxation exercises

Tilt your head to the right, bringing the ear down towards your shoulder….. put your head back into resting pose. Tilt your head to the left, bringing the ear down towards your shoulder…. Bring your head back into resting pose.

Tilt your head backwards, so that the nape gets closer to your back…. Bring your head back to resting pose. Tilt your head forwards so that your chin rests on your chest…. Bring your head back to resting pose.

Trunk relaxation exercises

Lift both shoulders, trying to reach your ears, like when you shrug your shoulders. After 10 seconds, lower your shoulders.

Push your shoulders back as if they would join behind your back…. lower your shoulders to resting pose.

Push your chest out… go back to resting pose.

Curve your upper back, trying to bring your elbows together behind it…. go back to resting pose.

Tense the upper part of your trunk and diaphragm, pushing out your stomach as far as possible…. return to resting pose.

Tense your upper trunk and diaphragm, sucking your stomach in as far as possible…. return to resting pose.

Tense the lower part of your trunk, making your tummy stick out and down as far as possible…. return to resting pose.

Leg relaxation exercise

Push your right foot against the floor forcefully. Observe the tension in your whole leg and after a few seconds, (approximately 10) loosen it.  Pay attention to the sense of relaxation. Press down your left foot…

External physical relaxation 

Consideration:

Once we have learnt to tense and relax, the teacher can guide the following relaxation exercise…

Sit comfortably, back straight, eyes closed.

Suggestion to guide relaxation:

First, it’s necessary to know the areas of highest tension in the body.

Where do you feel tension now?

Observe the body and discover the pressure points.

Maybe the neck?

Maybe the shoulders?

Some chest or stomach muscles?

Where you find muscular tension, press the pressure points and suddenly loosen the tension after a few seconds.

Tense the pressure points and after a short time, let them go suddenly.

Then, imagine a lift going down from your head to your feet that stops where you feel tension. Push, tense and then relax after a few seconds. Afterwards, continue with the lift until you reach your feet.

Start feeling your head.

Your scalp.

Your facial muscles.

Your two eyes.

Your lips.

Your two cheeks.

Go down in the lift on each side of the neck..

Your two shoulders, chest, stomach, tummy, leave ALL of it relaxed.

Take a second trip from the head to the lower belly.

Now, go back up again.

But this time, start by going down the nape, neck and back, arriving at the lowest parts of the body. Carry on along the legs until reaching the tips of your toes.

When you’ve finished the exercise, feel the external muscular relaxation.

Exercise: We are trees

Objective: Feel and move the body according to the instruction, without thinking.

How to do it: Standing up, barefoot, feet a little apart. Get on the floor in the foetal position and indicate: we are seeds of trees, inside the earth. We are moving and getting up softly under the earth and are setting down little roots (feet). We feel that our feet, which are our roots, bury into the ground and press the earth with our toes, as if they were tree roots. We feel our feet. We hold onto the earth strongly.  We flex our knees lightly. We feel our legs. Slowly, we grow branches (arms) and then leaves which move as we grow (fingers).

A group of children should feel like tall, willowy trees, moved by the soft wind. They move their branches and leaves. Some leaves fall.

Another group feels that they are tall trees with a round and broad tree top, moved by a soft wind

Then, the wind gets stronger and the trees move more. A storm comes and they move even more. Then, the storm passes and the sun comes out and we feel like strong and beautiful trees, full of energy.

Exercise: Drama

Objective: Being aware of the body.

How to do it: Barefoot. Explain that the important thing is to FEEL, not to GUESS what it is about quickly.

A child performs through imitating and miming a situation and the others calmly observe and try to feel what it is about with their bodies.

Examples of scenarios to act out:

– A teacher teaching a lesson

– A dog going for a walk and doing its business

– A chef preparing an omelette

-A cat stalking to hunt a mouse

– Etc. 

Exercise: Scoring

Objective: Being aware of the body in motion and the body’s movements in space.

Material: ping pong balls, marked with a color o number to differentiate between them. Scarves to cover their eyes with.

How to do it: The children get into a circle. In the middle of the circle, we put a bin. The children first stand one meter away from the bin and each one throws a ball. Do a brief breathing exercise. The children throw the ball softly to get it in the bin. Do it several times. Then, they put the scarves over their eyes and should try to score with their eyes closed, several times.

Repeat, increasing the distance between the bin and the children.

Exercises on the taste

Exercise: How does it taste?

Objective: Practice attention to is felt through the senses without judging (good/bad) nor trying to recognize what it is. The aim is to observe how it is: the flavor, the texture, the temperature, etc.
Material: Several bowls with food of different flavors. Scarf to cover the eyes.
How to do it: In pairs.
Cover a child’s eyes and another child chooses a food and gives him/her to try. The child with closed eyes should say what it tastes: Sweet, acid, salty.
He/She should also say how it is: soft, hard, creamy, oily, rough, round, soft, crunchy, etc.
Then it is repeated by changing roles.

Exercise: Detectives of flavors I

Objective: Practice attention to is felt through the senses without judging (good/bad) nor trying to recognize what it is. The aim is to observe how it is: the flavor, the texture, the temperature, etc.
Material: Different foods.
How to do it: The monitor gives a child a food test, without the others knowing what it is. The child must explain without words, by means of gestures what food tastes. It should explain if it is something sweet, bitter, salty, soft, tender, hard, creamy, liquid… Finally the children can rise the hand if they know what food it is.

Exercise: Flavor Detector II
Objective: Practice attention to is felt through the senses without judging (good/bad) nor trying to recognize what it is. The aim is to observe how it is: the flavor, the texture, the temperature, etc.
How to do it: Put several glasses on a table. Previously, the teacher has filled them with different liquids (orange juice, strawberry milkshake, milk, chocolate, water, lemon soda …) and added to each one a few drops of different food colorant (without flavor), so that the liquid presents a different color from the original. The child will have to try each drink, describe how it tastes and finally find out what liquid it is. With this you will see that the sight can deceive you and therefore to trust more in its smell and taste. It will also be useful to develop the vocabulary and learn to define the sensations.

Exercise: My piece of bread

Objective: To develop observation and perception, without thinking about the object. Discover sensations that appear to us only when being attentive on the experience.
Material: a loaf of crusty bread.
How to do it: Each child receives a piece of bread (You can use chocolate, cookies, etc.)
As if we had never seen a piece of bread we observed its shape and color. Without thinking about the bread we look at it slowly all around. We close our eyes and touch it to feel its rough parts and the smooth parts. We touch the outside and also the soft crumb. After that we smell it deeply. Then we put it close to the ear and squeeze it gently, listening to the sound. We watch how it sounds. Finally we bite and chew slowly. We taste the bread in the whole mouth. We concentrate on feeling the taste of bread. Them we chew and swallow it while we pay attention to all the sensations.

Dialogue: ¿Had you ever eaten a peace of bread this way? ¿What has been different? ¿What did you discover?

Exercises on the touch

Exercise: Brushing your teeth

Objective: To attentive to the sensations, without thinking or judging what they do o feel.

Material: every child brings his/her toothbrush. The educator brings some toothpaste.

How to do it: Every child brushes his/her teeth in slow motion. The supervisor guides the process, saying things like: We brush every tooth from the gum to the top, till the entire tooth and spaces between the teeth are full of toothpaste. We feel every tooth and the smooth movement of the toothbrush and our hand.

Sometimes the supervisor lets the children be quiet while they brush, and every now and then he asks them to observe what the sensations, without thinking or doing anything else.

In the end we ask: how did you feel doing this? Do you it in the same way at home? Is there any difference? Explain that doing things in a hurry is different from concentrating on only one thing. We encourage them to do it like that every day.

NOTE: To increase the need for attention, we can ask them to use the hand they do not usually use. If they’re right-handed, they’ll use their left hand. If they’re left-handed, the right one.

The same exercise can be applied to other everyday activities like combing, bathing, eating, drinking etc.

Exercise: Tell me what it is!

Objective: To be attentive to the sensations and describe them. Children have not to guess what it is, but to express how they are: rough, soft, round, round, square, wrinkled, irregular, cold, metallic, very small, etc.

Material: pieces and objects of different textures and a non-transparent plastic bag.

How to do it: Start with a short exercise on attention to the breath (2-3 minutes)

Various objects are placed in the plastic bag (for example: a sponge, dice cup, cubes, little bottle, cork, ball of wool, etc.). Children must not see the objects.

One child carefully inserts the hand into the bag and touches one object without seeing what it is. He or she has to tell the classmates the tangible characteristics of that object. The teacher reminds him or her to touch it without thinking what it is. The child should concentrate only on the sensation of touch. The rest of the children can ask: Is it flat? Is it thin? Is it round? Is it soft? Is it hard? Is it hairy? Is it rough?

 Repeat with every child using different object.

Remember that the objective is to observe the touch stimulus and to have fun with it. To discriminate textures and to describe them.

Exercise: Feet painters

Objective: To pay attention to the sensations on their feet and balance.

Material: a sheet of plastic 5×5 meters and some clay or paint for children’s use.

The children should bring old clothes.

How to do it: The children spread the clay all over the sheet. Every child is given a small piece of clay. They start spreading the clay with their hands from the borders of the plastic sheet, without putting the feet on it. Afterwards they stand up and walk over the clay with the objective of painting the soles of their feet completely. They are asked to feel the touch of the clay and to paint the soles completely. Remind them that they should walk slowly and preserve the balance. 

Exercise: Discover your classmate

Objective: Pay attention to the touch and the facial features of the classmate. To observe the differences between the classmates using touch.

How to do it: In pairs. On feet.

Blindfold half of the group. The remaining participants stand randomly, in front of the first group. The children with their eyes covered should touch the child in front of them, starting with his or her head, hair, eyes, forehead, ears, mouth, face, etc.

After a while the children change to another colleague and start to touch his or her head.

Later the roles change and the other half of the group is blindfolded.

In the end the children are asked to speak about what they were touching, how were they colleagues in touch: how was his or her hair, face, ears, etc.

Exercises on the sense of smell

Exercise: “Everything I smell”

Objective: Observe the different smells of common things. Learn to pay attention to the sensations.

Materials: The peel from oranges or lemons, perfume, flowers, cut grass, herbs, oil, etc.

How to do it: The guide has previously prepared cotton wool soaked with different liquids or smelly things that the children are familiar with and each one should be contained in non-transparent plastic or glass jar (so they cannot be identified by sight).

Sitting in a circle, we do a short breathing exercise.

Their eyes are covered with a blindfold. The jars are handed to them one after another. The jars are handed round all the children who smell them slowly for a few seconds. Finally they must say what the smells were like NOT THE OBJECTS THAT HAVE THAT SMELL. It is a sweet smell, chemical, refreshing …

The basic smells are:  

  •     Floral.
  •     Woody or resinous.
  •     Fruity (not citrus).
  •     Chemical.
  •     Mentholated or refreshing.
  •     Sweet.
  •     Burnt or smoked (such as popcorn).
  •     Citrus fruit. 

Exercise: Search – look for where the smell is!

Objective: Observe the different smells of common things. Learn to pay attention to the sensations.

Materials: Containers and smelly materials (herbs, fruit, perfume, etc.).

How to do it: In each container we put a quantity of smelly material and cover it with a lid in which we make a hole. Elsewhere in the classroom we put materials that are also in the containers (a few sprigs of herbs, an orange, a bottle of Cologne, etc.)

The children must pick up the smell coming from the containers and then search in the classroom for objects that have that smell. We can also put other similar objects in the classroom to stimulate their attention about what they smell. For example, if we have placed orange peel in a container, we will place an orange and a lemon in different parts of the classroom.

Exercise: Odors live together

This exercise should be done with children over 12 years.

Objective: To pay attention and distinguish the different nuances of an odor.

Material: 5 or 6 odorous substances and a chart as in the example below.

How to do it: Sitting around a table, each group will be given a chart and odorous substances (chocolate, biscuit, flower, perfume, etc.).

Students should smell them and distinguish the different nuances they perceive and write them down on the chart.

 

Exercises on bodily sensations

Exercise: A flood of sensations

Objective: Observing attentively the body sensations. To create self-awareness, we will begin with the simplest bodily sensations. You need to create an atmosphere of calm and attention to exercise.

Materials: A comb, a hair brush, a spider massage tool, balls, a long leaf from a tree, a sheet of paper, etc.

How to do it: Prior to this a short breathing exercise is done.

Half of the children lie face down. The others take each of the materials and rub them gently over the backs of the ones who are lying down.

The children who are rubbing the backs of their classmates change the objects they are using every 2-3 minutes approximately. After rubbing with several objects the pairs of children change roles. They are asked to observe and feel the different sensations as well to their reactions without losing attention. Then they have to explain what each sensation is like. 

Exercise: The body speaks to me

Objective: Observing attentively the body sensations which, in this case, are more specific. To create self-awareness, we will begin with the simplest bodily sensations. You need to create an atmosphere of calm and attention to exercise.

How to do it: Begin with a short attention to the breathing exercise.

Sitting in a circle. The guide explains that the body sends signals to us so that we know what it needs. So, we ask them, for example:

How my body tells me that

– I am hungry

– I am thirsty

– I am tired

– I have burnt myself

– I have indigestion

– I have a cold

– I am hot

– I am cold

– I need to pee.

With each of those sensations the children have to say where and how they feel it. 

Exercise: Travelling through our body

Objective: Observing attentively the body sensations. To create self-awareness, we will begin with the simplest bodily sensations. You need to create an atmosphere of calm and attention to exercise.

How to do it: After a short breathing exercise, the guide directs them through an observation of their bodily sensations.

Lying face up. Eyes closed

The observation can be directed like this:

With our hands we touch and feel our head while feeling the sensations. We touch it on all sides. Then the face, around the eyes, nose, cheeks, lips, we relax our tongues, necks and shoulders. Feel the sensations. We touch our arms and also down the chest to the waist, and from the back of the waist down to the thighs. Now we leave our arms relaxed at the sides of our bodies. We feel by moving our thighs, knees, legs and feet a little. We move our toes and we feel them.

Then we do the same observation but without touching the parts of the body.

Ask the children if there are parts of the body they cannot sense. In that case they are invited to touch or squeeze them gently or with the help of a partner. 

Exercise: Elastic – tighten and release

Objective: Pay attention to the parts of the body by thightening and releasing. Observe the sensations

Materials: An elastic rubber band, to show and demonstrate.

The following is explained: Our muscles are like an elastic band, they tense and release like this elastic rubber band we see.

How to do it: We are going to learn to tighten and loosen our muscles like the elastic band. When we tighten we breathe in and when we loosen the muscles we breathe out firmly.

The children can lie down. The guide directs the exercise like this and repeats each part if it seems necessary:

“We feel the

-Face: we make faces and then relax, we wrinkle our faces and relax, we put our tongues right out, we scowl and relax, we pretend to laugh and relax, etc.

– Shoulders and neck: We push gently with our head against the floor and then relax. We put our hands together one on top of the other, at chest height and squeeze them hard and then relax.

– Stomach: We tighten it and relax.

– Back: We arch our backs and then lower them.

– Legs: We bend and stretch them. Then we stretch them as if we were pushing something heavy that is at our feet and then we quickly relax.” 

Exercise: Floating in the light (Relaxation – peace)

Objective: Feel out body relaxed.

How to do it: In this session firstly we will release our tension.

The children should run from one side of the classroom to the other. Then with their arms down by their sides they should make their torsos turn so that their arms also turn like windmills.

Lying face up with their eyes closed.

We do the exercise of the elastic band for a few minutes (tighten and release)

Then we sit down properly on the chair, with a straight but relaxed back and shoulders down.

At this point the educator slowly starts this guided relaxation:

Now you are calm and you are breathing gently. You see that a warm bright orange light is moving towards your head. The light settles on your head which feels its warmth. The light is able to enter my head and I feel as if my forehead is relaxed and my eyes are floating gently. The light continues down through my head towards my mouth, my tongue and then down my neck to my chest, here the light shines more strongly and I feel joy inside my chest like I do when I’m very pleased and happy.

Now the light continues down to my soft, warm stomach. It continues down to my legs and leaves them very relaxed and heavy.

The light makes you feel that your body is floating calmly.  We like to feel that we are floating like a leaf on water or a bubble of soap in the air and it makes us feel really good. We stay like this enjoying us this peace and calm that we feel.

Dialogue: Invite children to make comments on how they felt, and encourage them to do it at home.

Exercises on sight

Exercise: We are Martians!

Objective: To observe what we see as if it were for the first time, as if we were coming from another planet and did not know anything about Earth.

How to do it: After doing a breathing exercise. The guide tells the children that they are Martians who have just landed on Earth for the first time. They do not know anything about what is on Earth. The children must observe an object that the guide hands to each one.

Look at it, touch it, smell it as if seeing it for the first time. After a while. Each child must tell the Martians who are on the spaceship what they see. 

Exercise: Drawing what we see

Objective: Paying attention to what is seen.

How to do it: Each child is given an object. He looks at it with great attention trying to capture every detail. On a sheet of paper each child draws the object that he has observed. Each time that you he believes he has finished it, he is invited to look at it again to check whether there are any more details that he has not noticed before. 

Exercise: Inspection

Objective: Paying attention to what is seen.

How to do it: The children, face to face, in two rows, observe each other paying attention to dress, hairstyle, shoes, etc. in silence. At a signal they turn their backs on each other and change two or three details in their outfit (undo their ties, a shoe, etc.).

Afterwards they all observe each other again and the educator questions each player about the changes in his partner’s outfit.

Exercise: Exchanging objects 

Objective: Maintain observation. Detect changes in the quantity or position of objects. 

Material: Various miscellaneous objects and a cloth to cover them all.

How to do it: Arrange 5 or 6 objects on a table or tray and present them to the children, covered by the cloth. Give them a few seconds to take a look. Cover them. Without letting the children see, take away, add or change the position of some of the objects. The pupils should say what the change was. Do this several times.

Exercises on breathing

Exercise: Attention to the breath

Objective: Learning to pay attention to the breath, as a way to learn self-awareness

How to do it: Sitting in a circle. We make a paper boat that is left next to each child. We work in pairs. One child lies down and the other, sits, observing his partner. The guide explains to them that the nose is something magical, like a vacuum cleaner but which also heats the air that enters our lungs. It sucks air in and heats it. The child who is sitting down puts a finger in front of the nose of the one who is lying down and notices that the air is cool when it goes in and warm when it comes out. Explain that the nose also cleans the air with the little hairs it has inside to catch the dust and look after the lungs. We invite the child who is lying down to breathe slowly and the other one who is sitting down will put a hand on the child’s stomach and observe how the stomach rises and falls. Then he will place the boat on the stomach of the child lying down and watch how it moves as if it were sailing over the waves. After a while they change roles and repeat. 

Exercise: Attention to the breath

Objective: Learning to pay attention to the breath, as a way to learn self-awareness

How to do it: Sitting comfortably in chairs or against the wall. Eyes closed. We put a finger under our noses and breathe. We feel the warm air when it comes out through the nose. Then we remove our fingers and lower our hands and continue breathing. We notice how the air enters and leaves.

It is explained to them that now when the guide says “ONE” we take a breath and then release it quietly; the guide continues to count “One” each time they breathe in. We repeat this until they understand it. Invite them to feel how the air enters and leaves. It is explained to them that if any thought occurs to them, they should observe what they are and then let them pass as the wind or clouds pass and return to feeling how the air enters and leaves their noses.

Dialogue: How do you feel after breathing attentively? Did you feel more calm? Invite children to comment their sensations and encourage them to do it every time they want or when they feel negative emotions like feeling upset, sad or angry. 

Exercise: “Catch THE BALL”

Objective: Paying attention on the breath in motion by doing full breath. Children should be attentive to breathing and doing the movements correctly.

How to do it: All standing up. In silence. Look straight ahead, relaxed and without focussing on anything. Feel the body and your feet firmly on the floor.

We inhale as we open and raise our arms on both sides of our bodies as if there is a ball up high we want to catch gently with both hands. We gently grasp the ball and carefully lower it in front of our bodies as we slowly release the air through the mouth. Finally, the arms will be released on both sides of the body (See figures below). Repeat 5 times.

This exercise can be done before the start of the first class at school.

arm exercise

Exercises for hearing

Exercise: “What we hear”

Objective: To pay attention to sounds.

How to do it: The instructor should tell the children to lay down (or sitting on the chair) with their eyes closed and attend to what they are hearing. They should listen to all the sounds that arrive to their ears. The instructor should provide guidance during the activity, reminding the children every few seconds, “Let’s listen calmly to the sounds around us,” or “Let’s pay close attention so that we can discover more and more sounds.” The instructor should remind the children that if a thought distracts them, they should notice what the thought is about, let it pass like a cloud, and return their attention to the sounds.

Eventually, the instructor should invite the children to discuss whether they began to hear sounds that had previously gone unnoticed. 

Exercise: “Types of sounds”

Objective: Attend to sounds. The goal is not to recognize the sounds, but rather to observe them as they are. Examples: high-pitched, low-pitched, harmonious, squeaky, relaxing, lulling, etc.

Material: Objects that can produce sounds.

How to do it: The educator should bring elements with different sounds, for example: cellophane paper, a can with lentils, a water bottle (shake it to make it sound), a spoon in a glass, seed pods that make a sound, etc.

After completing a breathing exercise to calm them down, the instructor should tell the children to sit quietly with their eyes closed. The children should use the previously prepared objects to make different sounds and pay attention to each kind of sound.

The activity should be guided by the instructor with phrases like “Let’s listen carefully and attend to the sound of each object.” Finally, invite them to comment how they describe each sound. 

Exercise: “Listening to silence”

Objective: The aim is not to listen or pay attention to sounds, but to listen to the silence. So, if a sound appears, they should not become attached to the sound, but let it pass and take their attention back to silence.

How to do it: This activity is best completed outside, in a truly silent environment. A park or similar location works well when possible.

The instructor should complete a breathing exercise, with the children laying down (if possible)  with their eyes closed. Next, the instructor should tell the children to feel their bodies (taking a pause and guiding the children through the sensations in different parts of their bodies), to feel their breath (taking another pause and guiding the children through the entrance and exit of air in the nose) and finally, to listen to the silence in the way that was explained above. 

Exercise: “The orchestra”

Objective: To listen carefully and repeat musical notes.

How to do it: After a brief breathing exercise, the instructor should sing or play 3 musical notes  and tell the children to attend to the sounds. The instructor should repeat the notes and have the children repeat them, as well. The sequence of notes should be lengthened each time.

If any of the children have trouble picking up the pattern of notes, the instructor should invite them to pay close attention and repeat the notes correctly. 

Exercise: “Find the pair”

The instructor should prepare non-transparent containers, each containing a different object that will make a sound when shaken (lentils, rice, rocks, sand, etc.). The containers should be prepared in pairs, such that each can be matched to exactly one other container with the same object. The instructor should place a tag with the name of the contents in the bottom of the container.

After the containers have been mixed, the children should shake them and observe the sound produced by each one. The goal is to find the containers which sound the same. The children should pay attention to the differences between the sounds each container produces. 

Exercise: “MARCO – POLO”

Objective: Paying attention and following the sound.

Material: 1 Bandana or blindfold to cover the eyes.

How to do it: One child should cover the eyes with a bandana or blindfold. The rest of the group should join hands and back away from the blindfolded classmate, maintaining the circle as they do so.

The group should begin to play “Marco – Polo” – the child with his or her eyes closed says “MARCO” and the rest of the group responds “POLO”. The blindfolded child must use the sounds as a guide and try to tag one of the other students, who then takes the blindfold and begin the game again. 

Exercise: “MY BODY IS A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT”

Objective: This may be an exercise for music lessons. Feel the effect of sounds within the body.

Material: A bell with a very high-pitched sound, a drum with a very low sound, a whistle, a triangle, etc. You can also use sounds previously downloaded from the internet.

The children should be seated on the floor, with their eyes closed. The instructor should ring the bells, telling the children to feel the sound in their bodies (where it vibrates, what each type of sound feels like, etc.).

The instructor should then whistle softly, beginning with the lowest pitches and moving slowly to the highest. It is important to blow softly, staying with each pitch for around 5 seconds.

The children should imitate each sound while observing and paying attention where each sound vibrates within their bodies. The exercise can be done by producing the sound of each vowel: A E I O U.  Invite them to maintain the sound as long as the air lasts and observe where each vowel vibrates in the body. They should put the hand in the part of the body they felt vibrating with each vowel. Remind them to be relaxed so that sounds vibrate well.

Exercise: The sounds of nature

Objective: To be fully open to the sounds of nature.

How to do it: In a quiet park or in nature, walk in silence and slowly observing all the sounds of birds, the air, dry leaves that are stepped on, the sounds of trees, etc. Finally, they lay down on the lawn and continue to observe the sounds with their eyes closed.

Dialogue: All speak without raising the voice and ask them how they felt during the walk with the sounds.