Breathing with Animal Arms
- Learn how taking deep breaths can help relax their minds and bodies
- Participate in a guided breathing exercise and share their reflections on the experience
When students participate in mindfulness programs at school, researchers have found numerous benefits, including increased cognitive performance, calmness, and emotional regulation, and decreased stress and tiredness. Thus, we encourage educators to implement mindfulness practices, such as the ones below, throughout the school day.
To learn more about this skill, and how it promotes students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.
Breathing exercises can be helpful for many students, but for some students who have experienced stressful events in the past, it can be difficult or upsetting to focus on their breath. Be mindful of students’ past experiences and reactions to this exercise, and if helpful, provide them with an alternative relaxation technique from the “Reset Now!” toolkit.
- Introduce the activity to students by asking: “Do you ever feel like there are too many thoughts running around in your head? When we have this feeling, it can be hard to focus, because we feel so distracted or even worried by all these thoughts. In these situations, we can use breathing exercises to give our bodies and minds a little break, and this can help us relax and feel calmer.”
- Select one of the videos below, and play it for students. Each video will guide them through simple breathing exercises that can be performed while they are sitting on a chair or on the ground. Ask students to gently accept and let go of any distractions during the exercise by silently saying “hello” and “goodbye” to them. It can also be helpful to focus on a physical sensation in their body (e.g., counting their breaths), use their five senses (e.g., listening to a sound or looking at a spot on the wall), or visualize an image in their mind (e.g., picturing a candle).
- Afterwards, invite students to share their reflections on the following questions, either during a class discussion or as a journaling prompt:
• Did you enjoy this exercise? Why or why not?
• How do you feel after taking some deep breaths?
• Did any thoughts or worries come to mind during the exercise? How did you handle them?
• Can you think of a time when you could use this exercise to help you feel calmer or more focused?
If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...
Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call.
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.
If students in either class don’t have individual devices...
Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.