I am a scavenger – I love to find the treasures within the junk. I think of myself as an educational MacGyver. Give me some random object and I’ll figure out how to teach with it. This habit (gift?) started when I was a student-teacher, finishing up my Elementary Education degree. This basically meant that I was working full-time as a classroom teacher, but paying full tuition to my university. So times were desperate. I started coming up with ways to use the stuff that was already in my house. Objects like empty cereal boxes became journal covers and coffee filters taught osmosis and diffusion.

Fast forward many (many) years and I am still trying to be inventive with found objects. This time, inspiration struck at the hardware store. I got sucked in by the paint chips – you know the papers that have paint colors on them that you can take home and imagine putting on your walls? There were rows and rows of these paint chips, all free to take home. So, naturally, I loaded up! My teacher-mind was already racing with possibilities. Here are the results:

Color Charades: Trim the actual colored squares from the paint chip cards and put them in a bowl or bag. Then, one at a time, have the children pick a color out of the bag and use yoga postures to describe the color. For example, if they chose a red chip, their poses might be strong, fiery poses like Warriors or Goddess. For a light blue, maybe they do Happy Baby or Puppy. A brown color could be a Tree. The actor can use facial expressions to relay the mood their color creates, too. If that’s too hard, or your kids don’t like being “on the spot”, as a class talk about how the colors make you feel and then explore poses that create the same feeling. You could make this a chart!

Chakra Art: Use the paint chips to create a picture of the chakras. Each child can have one chip of each color and glue them onto a paper to represent their chakras. You could do them all in one class, or spread it out, exploring one chakra each week. Once they know the chakras, they could invent their own chakra chart using colors that they feel represent the different energy centers. For more on teaching the chakras to kids, go to this article.

Mandalas: Using the individual color squares, allow each child to create their own mandala. This can be permanently glued onto paper, or teach impermanence by letting them create it on the floor and then, once completed, use their breath to scatter the slips of color. You could make a whole-group mandala with each person contributing a portion.

Pompom Matching: For your littler yogis, play Toe-ga and match the pompoms with the color chips.Place the color chips around the room and then kids pick up pompoms with their feet and deliver them to the corresponding color chip.

Color Mindfulness: Again, place the individual colors in a bag. As children leave class, they choose a color and have to look for that color in the world for a week. So if they pick an orange chip, for the rest of the week they should be mindful of where they see orange. This homework could either be a written list, or just a report back the next week. Try it! For the rest of today, look for the color blue in the environment – look beyond the sky, of course. Scan your surroundings and really look for blue. It’s a very calming practice.

Class Management: Color paint chips can become a class management tool pretty easily. Before class, make sure there are 2 of each color and put them in the bag. When kids walk in, they take a chip. Their partner for the day is the person who has a matching chip! They can line up in order of the rainbow (or chakra colors). Teams can be created by primary colors versus secondary colors.

This is just the tip of a very colorful iceberg! Aaaahhh…the joy of creating educational experiences from stuff just laying around!

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