Mindfulness Activities and Teaching Resources


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  • Advice on Teaching Mindfulness 
Please start here if you're looking for mindfulness activities for a class but haven't taught mindfulness before and/or don't have an established personal practice.  (If you're simply looking for something like a song about gratitude or video about kindness, go ahead and scroll down to the activities.)
  • Activities for Practicing and Teaching Mindfulness, Compassion, Gratitude, and Social-Emotional Skills
I've reorganized this section to make it clearer which types of activities might be more/less appropriate in different contexts.  
  • Links to Mindfulness Resources  
  • Links to Resources on Compassion, Social-Emotional Learning, and related topics        



Advice on Teaching Mindfulness and Complementary Practices 

8 Principles of Teaching Mindfulness Meditation to Adolescents

8 Principles of Trauma-Informed Yoga and Mindfulness Teaching

If you're new to teaching mindfulness:
  • Please establish your own personal practice before teaching meditation or formal mindfulness practices to adults or children.  
  • Please don't push anyone beyond their comfort level, for example if they don't want to close their eyes during meditation or prefer not to share personal information with the group.  
  • The interviews with experienced mindfulness teachers and teacher trainers give a lot of suggestions for teaching different ages of students in different contexts around the world.
  • The recommended mindfulness books will put the activities in context and help you prepare for the common challenges in teaching mindfulness and compassion, such as working with reluctant students or coping with strong emotions that might come up in meditation. (MindfulTeachers.org receives no financial benefit from books ordered through links on this site.)  

One further word of caution:
If you teach kids, you might want to discuss your plans with parents and school administrators before assigning mindfulness activities and homework.  Several teachers have been asked by parents to stop teaching mindfulness to their children because they believe it's against their religious beliefs.  (In the U.S., these concerns usually come from conservative Christians.) 
Many Christians do practice mindfulness; the objections are often based on a misunderstanding of the terminology.  You might want to share with concerned parents Mindful Teachers' interview with Christian mindfulness teacher Dr. Irene Kraegel:
"The practice is simply attentional training; students will never be asked to put their attention on something that would go against their religious beliefs. Rather, students will be practicing keeping their attention where they intend it to be... It behooves us to be intentional about our spiritual practices, and many people can benefit from an intentional integration of Christian faith and mindfulness practice." 




Practicing Mindfulness, Compassion, Gratitude, and Social-Emotional Skills

I've gotten a lot of requests to use these activities in various contexts.  If you'd like to use them for anything other than your own personal practice or teaching your current students, please see the Frequently-Asked Questions for information on permissions and copyright issues. 



Noncompetitive Games and Group Activities  
This might be a good place to start if you teach kids and don't have training in teaching mindfulness.  (You might also be interested in the gratitude and five senses activities for individuals or groups, in the section below.)


    Activities for Individuals or Groups 
    The following practices and activities should be appropriate or adaptable for most contexts: adults or kids, individually or in a class.  (Within reason: I'm obviously not advocating that groups of children start driving, but the 'Red, Orange, Yellow' practice best fits in the five senses category.) 
    Five Senses 


    Video Playlists with Discussion Questions
    Any of these videos would be appropriate for adults or teens.  A few of them are appropriate for younger kids, but please watch the full video before deciding what to share with your class.
    • Views on Compassion (short videos about small acts of kindness and large acts of philanthropy, including a third grade 'kindness boomerang' and a ballet about a young woman who's in distress because she has only one arm… until a young man with one leg offers her his crutch.)
    • Views on Compassion 2 (short videos about empathy and aid for people from different backgrounds, including Japanese boys helping older neighbors survive the destruction of their village, and Muslims, Christians, and Jews helping each other)

    Song Playlists with Discussion Questions

    The first playlist is appropriate for young children:

    I've tried to include something for everyone on the other playlists, and I try to avoid offensive content... but many of these songs are more appropriate for teens and adults.  Please read the lyrics and watch the full video before deciding what's appropriate for your class, especially if you teach young children.  
    • Are You Happy? (songs about feeling happy, looking on the bright side, and pretending to be happy while hiding our true feelings)
    • Change the World (songs about diversity, unity, love for humanity, and making a difference)
    • The Sound of Compassion (songs about compassion, empathy, and kindness) 
    • The Sound of Compassion 2 (songs about discrimination, understanding people from different backgrounds, and taking action to help others)
    • The Sound of Gratitude (songs offering thanks to specific people; songs expressing appreciation for life itself)
    • The Sound of Gratitude 2 (more songs about appreciating our circumstances and our loved ones)
    • The Sound of Self-Acceptance (songs about being true to ourselves and recognizing our own strength and vulnerability)

    Effective Communication/Mindful Speech/Relational Mindfulness    
    These are particularly appropriate for teens. (The 'case studies' are short examples of skillful and unskillful speech.)
    Emotions and Thoughts        
    These are appropriate for teaching kids if you have an established personal mindfulness practice.


    Meditation and Formal Mindfulness Practice
    These are appropriate for personal practice or for use by  teachers with an established personal practice and preferably some training in teaching mindfulness.  
       
    Compassion and  Self-Compassion     
    These are appropriate for adults or mature teens.  They involve a pretty high degree of personal awareness.  Use cautiously in teaching, and please respect participants' decisions about how much they want to share with the group.





    Links to Resources on Mindfulness


    Links to Resources on Compassion, Meditation, Social-Emotional Learning, and related topics    


    Bullybust.org has film clips about different types of bullying, with discussion questions and teaching guides.   Plus videos of ‘Upstanders’—bystanders who stand up for those who are bullied.

    The Center for Adolescent Studies blog:  tips for working with resistant teens, setting appropriate boundaries, deciding when to disclose personal information, etc.     

    Classroom Lessons on Social-Emotional Learning and sensitively teaching current and controversial issues, from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
      
    The Coalition to Support Grieving Students: "The site covers a range of grief-related topics to provide training resources specially designed for school professionals."                     

    Fables to Grow On, to promote social and emotional learning, as well as literacy skills    

    Five Reasons We Can't Ignore Social-Emotional Learning by Sasha Briggs at InformED

    Here's What Will Happen to You When Your Body, Mind, and Soul When You Meditate, from BookMeditationRetreats.com
      
    Lesson Plans on civil rights, immigration, and discrimination from Teaching Tolerance    

    Love Is Respect has resources on healthy relationships vs. dating abuse.
    No Stigmas has a directory of mental health resources  and a peer support group.    
      
    Online Yoga Resources for Every Body: This is a list I put together of the best advice on teaching yoga to those of us who don't fit the profile of a "typical" yoga student.  (For example, because of a larger body or a disability.)       
      





    If you like this page, please share it using the social media buttons below. And if you have any suggestions or know of additional resources that you'd like to see included on this page, please post a comment or contact me at mindfulteachers[at]gmail[dot]com. (I will only include links to resources related to mindfulness, compassion, and social-emotional learning. I don't accept sponsored/affiliate links.)

    11 comments:

    1. Some great ideas here, I love Giant Strides, Rainbow Walk and Marble Roll. For some of my own ideas check out my recent blog post Mindfulness in the Classroom: some helpful suggestions http://www.joyfulmind.net.au/blog. And You Tube clip of my colleague Bobbi Allan and me from Mindfulness in Education http://www.mindfuleducation.com.au/ teaching at school last year. Shakti Burke at work in the classroom at Mindfulness in Education at Dunoon Public School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry-sRjRFIW8.
      Great site, great ideas, wonderful to share. Thank you.

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    2. Thanks for sharing these links, Shakti:
      There are some great suggestions for elementary school teachers at http://www.joyfulmind.net.au/blog/mindfulness-in-the-classroom-some-helpful-suggestions

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    3. These are wonderful! Permission to use a few of these for a unit plan for high school teachers? I won't be charging anything or making money on it - I just want to spread the word.

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      1. This second post is so that comments will get sent to my email. =)

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      2. Hi Joshua, I'm delighted that you're finding the activities useful. Permissions are a little complicated because I created some of the activities and others I have permission to post here but not to publish elsewhere---Could you email me at mindfulteachers@gmail.com to discuss this?

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    4. Due to a strange html error, this page disappeared a few minutes ago, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I will probably need to recreate the whole thing based on an old saved version on my laptop... Thanks for your patience as I get it back online...

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      1. I have no idea why, but it seems to be working to strip out the html and have the site automatically re-html itself. (Is there a technical term for that?) In any case, thanks for your patience as I got everything back online. This is by far the most popular page on MindfulTeachers.org, so let's just say this has been a challenging test of my 'mindful breathing'. (I confess that my first response was to yell, "Oh, [drat]!" In a calm and mindful way, of course.)

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    5. I am looking for approximately eight minute long mindful movement videos to show to students in the classroom. Does anyone have suggestions of where I should look?

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      1. I'm not sure what age your students are, but here are a couple of possibilities.
        a 9-minute video with yoga for kids:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmeTZGr_R5Q
        an 8-minute video of Thich Nhat Hanh's '10 mindful movements', apparently from Thai television, but with instructions in English:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-gEO12BVNU

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    6. Great list of resources. It's going to take a while to explore all of these. Bookmarked!

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      1. Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad you found this page useful. :-)

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