Settled or Stirred: Meditating Snow Globe Activity

SnowGlobe 2“See this snow globe filled with sand and water?” says our lead facilitator Mayme Donsker as she introduces her class to some of the basic principles of mindfulness practice. “When you shake the globe, the sand and water get stirred up, making the water cloudy. When the globe is left undisturbed, the sand settles and the water becomes clear again. If you think about it, our mind is like the sand and water; when we get caught up in our thoughts and emotions, it can be difficult to see clearly, which impacts our perceptions and decision making. Practicing mindfulness can help us to become aware of this process, create some space between our thoughts, emotions, and reactions, and allow ourselves the opportunity to settle.”

It has been over a decade since we first introduced the snow globe to the SB&T curriculum. When we brought a single snow globe into the classroom, there was always a line of students after class who wanted to hold it, shake it, and watch the water slowly become clear again. So we decided to create a way for each student to make their own unique snow globe to take home to support their mindfulness practice.

In this fun DIY project students begin by drawing themselves sitting and meditating. The self portrait is then laminated and affixed to the lid of a mason jar, which can be filled with water and brightly colored sand. The jar is then placed upside down using the lid as the base so students can see the image of themselves sitting upright inside. Shaking the jar turns the water opaque, a metaphor for a stirred up mind. When set down, the water slowly clears as the colored sand settles to the bottom.

Students can see themselves as the meditator in the jar, capable of allowing their mind to settle as the water becomes crystal clear.

 

The kids we work with absolutely love the project; it’s a hit in the classroom. In class, students use the snowglobe as a reminder of how and when to practice mindfulness. When they’re doing the project in a school day, we break it down into steps and span it out over the course of a few classes. They can’t wait to see the finished product and take it home to share with their parents, siblings, and friends, where they get to put the concept of mindfulness into their own words.

For step-by-step instructions including photos and templates for the Meditating Snow Globe activity, download the free “Stop, Breathe & Think: Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom” PDF HERE.

Please leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter and tell us how it goes!

Gratitude Journal

Gratitude ImageFrom rushing out of the house in the morning, to the last bell, it’s easy to get caught up in the ever-changing flow of victories and defeats that comprise a school day. For teachers and students alike, it can feel as if life is lived from one bell/assignment/quiz/social interaction to the next. We’re usually not in the habit of just appreciating things, moment to moment. It can be hard to remember to stop and note whatever we feel positively about, so, with this tool, we deliberately build in some time in the school day to focus on gratitude.

When we find something to be grateful for, everything shifts. It can turn our attitude around from feeling overwhelmed or isolated, to feeling connected and supported.

We have a section on gratitude in the free Stop, Breathe & Think: Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom PDF that includes a gratitude meditation, group discussion questions, and journal prompts. Below we’ll walk through how we teach the gratitude lesson in our Tools for Peace classrooms.

After checking in with the Check-In Worksheet, we jump into a group discussion or Circle Chart to create a working definition of gratitude. Then we practice the gratitude meditation, either by reading the script, or playing the recording from the Stop, Breathe & Think app. The meditation is great because it helps everyone to slow down, and connect, in whatever way they can, to their own genuine feelings of appreciation and thankfulness.

After the meditation, we set aside a few minutes for a short check-in and share. If the group is open and sharing a lot, we’ll give a little more time for discussion before moving into the gratitude journal. The students love the journal because the prompts are very specific, starting with something simple like listing the everyday material things we are grateful for, why they are important, and how they make us feel, and then going deeper into thinking about our own unique qualities, talents, and skills.

The Gratitude Journal continues with writing about the people in our lives. We describe why we are grateful for them, how we feel when we think of them, and even find something we are grateful for in a person that we find difficult to be around. Then we share at least one thing from our journals.

Through sharing what we’re grateful for in the classroom setting, students, as well as teachers, find commonalities with one another, which can promote compassion, calmness, and camaraderie, a great environment for learning.

 

The benefits of gratitude are well documented. According to this Washington Post article on teaching kids gratitude, “‘We know that grateful kids are happier [and] more satisfied with their lives,” says Jeffrey Froh, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University. “They report better relationships with friends and family, higher GPAs, less materialism, less envy and less depression, along with a desire to connect to their community and to want to give back…”  

Froh’s studies found that kids who kept a Gratitude Journal every day for two weeks were more appreciative than those who didn’t, as well as more optimistic and more satisfied with their lives.

If you are using the Check-In Worksheet in your class, you can add any number of the Gratitude Journal prompts to your mindfulness routine. In most classes we focus on a single prompt each week, giving students time to dig deep into each subject.

If you are interested in adding the Gratitude Journal, we have created a guide for you and we’d love to hear how it goes in your classroom. Download the free “Stop, Breathe & Think: Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom” PDF HERE.

Please leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter and tell us how it goes!

 

Game-Changer in the Classroom: Check-In Worksheet

When students and teachers walk into the classroom, backpacks and textbooks aren’t the only baggage they bring with them. Everyone enters the room in a different mental, emotional, and physical state, which often affects their readiness to learn. In our Tools for Peace classes and clubs, the Check-In Worksheets have been a real game-changer. It’s the first thing we do together after welcoming each student into the classroom.

Mirroring the Check-In of the Stop Breathe & Think App, students answer the question “How are you?” on the worksheets, guiding them to slow down and turn their attention inward to reflect on what they are experiencing mentally, physically and emotionally in that moment.

Last week we asked our lead facilitator Mayme Donsker about her experiences using the Check-In Worksheet with her students. She found that “in the past, if someone was disengaged or even acting out, it could take me an entire class period to figure out what was going on and come up with a strategy to work with it. Checking in and sharing at the beginning of class allows me to immediately hear directly from the students how they are doing, and with that information I can adjust my teaching style or lesson plan to meet them where they are.”

Students keep track of their mental, physical, and emotional state, like a journal, and as the semester goes on it opens up discussions about how those things are constantly changing and moving.  Mayme found this process had a positive impact on her class:

“We hear each other’s struggles and joys, and that sense of common humanity naturally creates a supportive classroom culture and a shared vocabulary for talking through challenges.”

 

We’ve also found that in the middle of a dense lesson, the Check-In Worksheet can be used to overcome mental blocks like “I’m just bad at this” or “I’m not a math person.” Guiding students to identify frustration or confusion as a passing feeling instead of shutting down, can help relieve pressure and provide a few moments to allow the mind to settle and refresh before looking for another strategy to approach the issue. Students identify less with the obstacles and more with being curious, open, and present.

Want to try the Check-In Worksheet with your students? Download the free “Stop, Breathe & Think: Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom” PDF HERE.

Please leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter and tell us how it goes!

Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom

Ready to bring mindfulness activities to your classroom? We often hear from teachers and students about how they are impacted by stress inside and outside of the classroom. We’ve compiled a selection of exercises from the Stop, Breathe & Think curriculum to give both teachers and students tools to deal with stress in a healthy and productive way. These exercises can be easily integrated into any academic setting.

This free packet features an introduction to mindfulness and the science behind how it works, scripts for foundational mindfulness exercises with follow up questions for group discussion, gratitude journal prompts, a kindness group activity, instructions for creating a “Settled or Stirred Meditating Snow Globe”, as well as best practices and helpful tips.

      CONTENTS:

  • Quick Stop, Breathe & Think Practice
  • Checking In
  • Check-in Worksheets
  • Mindful Breathing
  • Body Scan
  • Engaging Your Senses
  • Gratitude
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Kindness
  • Kindness Card Activity
  • Settled Or Stirred Meditating Snow Globe
  • Snow Globe Meditator Template

Available for download HERE.

Audio recordings of many of the scripted exercises provided in the PDF can be accessed via the Stop, Breathe & Think App, available for free at http://stopbreathethink.org on the web and through iOS and Android.

Please tell us how it goes in your classroom!

 

SAMPLE PAGES:

Celebrate With Us!

January was a month of growth and gratitude. We’re happy to share that the Tools for Peace social media pages have successfully relaunched. The new pages are dedicated to sharing our work in schools, the annual Summer Teen Camp, and the Stop, Breathe & Think Online Course. We’ll periodically share free curriculum activities developed by our facilitators, and post about the latest breakthroughs and research for mindfulness in education. We continue to work closely with Stop, Breathe, & Think to develop curriculum content for our in-service programs and work in the community.

Live Gratitude MeditationLIVE Event Post Image

To celebrate the upcoming year of growth and change, we’ve partnered with Stop, Breathe & Think for a LIVE Gratitude meditation and Q&A on Tuesday, February 16th at 12 PM PST.

Visit Facebook for more details about how to participate in the meditation. A Q&A on Twitter will immediately follow. You can tweet your questions about mindfulness and meditation to @ToolsForPeace using the hashtag #MeditateWithUs.

We’re looking forward to a great year and are so grateful to have you with us. Thank you for your support!

With gratitude,
The Tools for Peace Team

P.S. If you haven’t already, you can follow our new social media pages all at once HERE.