I knew when I took my Kidding Around Yoga Teacher Training that I would leave armed with tools to help kids manage stress. But what I hadn’t realized was how much the training was about to reignite my creative spark. Once I started teaching classes, I found that the planning process was almost as fun as the class itself! I’ll see a picture or read an article that will put an idea in my head, then I’m off and running, figuring out how to incorporate the idea in my next class. I’m constantly jotting down spontaneous ideas (for themes, props, activities) on Post-It notes, and I can get so inspired by just wandering around a craft store!
Since I’ve been teaching kids yoga, I’ve come across some really great theme ideas for classes, including the seasons, holidays (check out these Halloween theme classes by KAY’s very own Mary Ann Ewert!) and, of course, Frozen! Sometimes a children’s yoga class theme can be a super simple everyday topic, like…animals. I’m sure this theme has been done thousands of times – there are so many poses named for animals, after all – but there are tons of easy and fun ways to add your own creative touch to any class theme.
Below are a bunch of ideas to maybe spark YOUR creativity – feel free to use them for your own children’s yoga classes!
Animal Themed Yoga Class Ideas:
- Hand out a beanie baby animal “partner” to each child that they can use throughout the class.
- Get on your “motorcycles” (sit on your mat, legs crossed so knees are stacked, then grab onto your ankles, or “handlebars” — don’t forget your cool helmet!) and go on a bumpy, curvy, hilly ride to a farm or zoo. Once you arrive, tell a story about all the animals you see while demonstrating the different poses. (Don’t forget – what we do on one side, we gotta do on the other. For the younger kids, put a sticker on one of their feet to help them remember which side they did first!)
- Take a boat ride to the ocean and talk about all the sea animals you encounter. Start in boat pose (“What kind of boat are you?”) and ride the rough seas as you come across dolphins, sea turtles, jellyfish (forward bend with dangling arms), starfish, (any old fish!) and crabs. Maybe float under a bridge or go surfing!
- Play Charades: have pictures of different animals in a hat. The kids pick from the hat and pose, while the others guess which animal they are. Creativity counts – if they don’t know the “real” pose, they can make one up! The child who guesses right picks next.
- Hide and Seek: Hide animal pictures or small plastic animals (easy to find at craft stores and Amazon.com) around the room – when someone finds an animal, everyone stops and does the pose.
- Have each child tell the class what their favorite animal is, and then teach that animal pose to the class. They can make it up if they want!
- Pranayama: Bunny breaths (three breaths in through the nose, exhale through the mouth). This is another place to get creative – breathe in through the nose, make an animal sound as you exhale.
- Song (for the smaller ones): Old MacDonald Had a Farm – act out the different animals in the song – add in silly animals (…and on that farm he had…an elephant?! …a unicorn?!!)
- Song: Joggin’ Through the Jungle. Trust me – this is a definite favorite that the children will ask to do again and again. Lion, crocodile, and turtle, and lots of running around. This is a great way to tire children out so they’re ready for the Secret Garden.
- Secret Garden: Take your beanie baby with you; imagine your favorite animal/pet is with you in your Secret Garden.
- Books, of course! Eric Carle rocks!
- Have animal mandala coloring pages waiting as the kids are arriving (they can take them home and finish for OMwork!)
- Start off as a caterpillar, make your cocoon, and turn into a butterfly!
- Song: La Cucaracha – another awesome (and silly) KAY song about a dead bug (happy baby).
- Take a nature walk with little plastic magnifying glasses to look for bugs.
- There are lots of fun bug poses: cricket (lay on your back, bent arms, legs in the air, rub hands and feet together), bee (start in mountain, arms straight out behind you, clasp hands, fly and buzz around), and spider.
There are infinite ways to be creative when planning kids’ yoga classes – I’d love to hear about your own creative yoga class ideas!