I remember my elementary school very well. On the west side of the school, there was a large field with space to play and a baseball diamond. I loved the seasons where our school maintenance would mow the grass on a large riding lawn mower. My mind would escape the indoors and the classroom as I watched the peaceful routine of mowing and the fragrance of fresh cut class. Until I would hear my name, followed by the words, “Pay attention!”
Our students need to practice self-regulation in ways that engage their mind, excite their interests, and create an outlet to be learning-ready. The more opportunities we offer to develop this skill, the better our children will become at focusing and participating in their lessons.
Here are a few of our favorites to practice self-reg activities:
- Mountain/Motion: This game is a fantastic break or can be used during transitions, especially during line-up. First, teach students mountain pose. Begin by being aware of your feet firmly on the floor about the width of a fist between your feet. Feel all your toes, heels, and the side of your feet. Your knees are above your ankles, your hips above your knees. Now, hands down by your side and palms facing forward with your fingers spread. Look straight ahead, shoulders down and back. You are strong and still, like a mountain. Take deep breaths and think about how calm you are! Begin the game by telling the students they must remain in their space for the whole game. Visual space holders like floor circles or line tape can be very helpful. You will give the command, “Mountain!” They stand in mountain, without a peep. You share the word, “Motion!” They shake and move in place until you return to the direction of mountain. Continue for a few minutes, until everyone has their wiggles out!
- Silent Ball: This is a fun game that involves a circle of catch but requires a lot of self-control. Pass the ball to another person in the circle and they need to catch it. Do not aim for the head. Sit down and scoot back a bit if: *you drop it, *you under/overthrow it, or *you talk. The idea of the game is to pay attention to the ball and remain quiet. If a student misses the ball, it is up to the two students involved in the action to self-evaluate if it was their mistake through a drop or over/under throw. If someone does not take credit by sitting out, the other players may then point to who they think was responsible, majority rules or the teacher can decide. If anyone talks throughout the game, they sit down. Again, players can point to communicate, but can not talk. Last one standing wins. It goes fast and we often play a few rounds. (Be sure to watch for the hard throws, in that situation, I will ask for a student to sit.)
- Yogi Says: This game is the same as Simon Says. Name a yoga pose and everyone does the pose only when the pose called is preceded with, “Yogi Says”. This is a great way to get the student leaders involved and to learn poses! Be sure to do the poses too or have visuals ready.
- Independent 4 Corners: This can be done as a group but will need independent game boards. You will find a printable version at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17Bjdrmnds9jU_ubv3OzIB5itHeyB2oH5J6mWkI1e5bc/edit?usp=sharing This printout can be placed on a book or an individual dry erase board. You can also use hard stock and have the student draw one line down, and one line across the paper, creating four sections. Each student will need a ping pong ball. You say a color or number, and each student tries to move the ball just enough to get there without falling off the gameboard. Students may rejoin as often as they need to! This is a great option for a one-on-one or a small group session. Try this one yourself, it is a fun way to practice control and focus!
Allowing time for activities and games during our day gives us brain breaks, helps us practice for focus, and keeps our children learning-ready!