You Are Special by Max Lucado is an amazing book, one to be considered for sharing in yoga class. I believe it will resonate wildly with your little yogis. If you haven’t read this book, here is a brief summary from Teaching Children Philosophy…In a village, there live many different Wemmicks. The Wemmicks walk around all day and give each other either a gold star or a gray dot sticker. A Wemmick named Punchinello always tries his best to receive gold stars from the other Wemmicks but only receives gray dots for not doing well enough. One day he meets a Wemmick named Lucia who doesn’t have any gold stars or gray dots because they don’t stick to her. Punchinello doesn’t want any stickers on him either so Lucia tells him to visit their maker, Eli. Eli explains to Punchinello that if he is not bothered by what the other Wemmicks think, then the star and dots will not stick to him either.
After reading the book with your students, here are some activities to explore the lessons more fully…
Circle Time: This floor time would allow for a discussion of what each person in your class feels their stars and dots would be (stars being their best attributes, and dots being their weakest). Yes, it requires a vulnerability, but the desired outcome is one in which stars and dots are no matter. Neither define us, in light of being loved for simply being. In the beginning of ‘Special’, the focus is clearly on this definition of being mostly stars or mostly dots, but we see by the middle of the story that what really matters is understanding we are loved no matter the definitions that are placed upon us by others. Discuss if they put their own stickers on, or if they allowed other people to put them on. In other words, are they labeling themselves or letting other people define them? How does that feel? When might this happen? Do you do this to other people?
Get On Your Feet: The middle of the story crosses the paths of the dot-burdened young Wemick, Punchinello, with another Wemick, Lucia. Lucia does not have any stars or dots, and Punchinello is fascinated by this. I would use this part of the story to create a sitting-to-standing pose sequence that reiterates the message of Punchinello’s error in focusing on his dots versus starts, and how Lucia kindly guides him to visit Eli, the woodworker, in his woodworking shop. Maybe start out by having the kids reach all around them in a v-shaped sitting position, picking up their dots and stars. Then, move to table pose because that is where Eli creates all of his masterpieces. Chair pose next; this is where the Wemicks sit when they visit Eli. And then star pose! Remember to reiterate that ultimately, we are striving for being ‘un-stickable’. You will basically be retelling the story as you move from seated to standing, and ready to practice some poses.
Creative Movement: Because we are very different and unique, use a yoga card deck to inspire your class to work in teams to develop a yoga sequence to share with the class. Invite them to expand their imagination. Do they want to do all sitting poses? Do they want to create a story sequence? Do they want to create a game? Do they want to work an area of the body, like legs, or back? The yoga deck can guide them in creating their very own teachable sequence. And they’ll also learn from their classmates.
Guided Meditation: This is the time when we can re-engage with the message of the book. As they rest comfortably on their mats, the room darkened and quiet, lead your class into their most special place. Where do they feel most unique? Where do they feel in tune with their gifts, and purpose? What does that place look like? Smell like? Feel like? Is anyone else with them? In this quiet, reflective time the young yogis can soak in the gorgeous ideas of self-love, universal love, non-judgment, and freedom.
Craft: Have your students create an ‘I Am’ poster where they clearly list out all their attributes, strengths and weaknesses, like rays shooting out from a center point. The center of the poster will say ‘I Am’, and the ‘rays’ will be things like ‘loved’, ‘perfectly imperfect’, ‘beautiful’, ‘sassy’, ‘friendly’, ‘a sister’, ‘a brother’, ‘fast’, ‘silly’, ‘weird’, and so on.
We are all masterpieces, which means we are the culmination of purposeful and non-purposeful strokes of the brush. Owning all of who we are is what strengthens us. It is what allows the judgments and words of others to not stick. If you know you struggle with being sensitive, but that you are a loved being with a purpose, you are less likely to be affected when someone points out your sensitivity. Right? Now, let’s empower our little yogis!