Winter brings with it the challenge of being indoors for longer periods, but our classes still need to foster creativity and mindfulness. How can we get our students’ brains working and able to maintain a peaceful state all winter long? By trying out new activities, we can keep our minds sharp and at the same time, peaceful.
We know that little yogis of all shapes, ages and sizes tend to feel restless and perhaps even bored or frustrated in the winter months. Yet, winter presents a perfect opportunity to reframe the “doldrums” and instead see the season as an opportunity to ignite creativity and mindfulness. When we approach the winter season with a creative mindset, it can be an empowering and truly wonderful time to test out new activities that might not typically fall into the category of “yoga”. For your next winter themed yoga adventure, here are a few ideas for fun activities that keep minds thinking, steady and calm.
- Add Yoga to The Marshmallow Challenge: If you have never attempted the Marshmallow Challenge, you should definitely complete the “original” challenge yourself before doing this activity with a group. The Marshmallow Challenge asks that a group design a tower that stands with a marshmallow on top. The tower consists of minimal supplies such as spaghetti sticks, string and of course, the one marshmallow that must sit on top of the tower. The marshmallow is key to the challenge because if it falls, the group automatically loses. The results of this challenge are often hilarious, but the joke is usually on the grown-ups in the room. Why? Because the little yogis, especially elementary school age children, tend to out preform adults in this challenge. To add yoga to the Marshmallow Challenge, prepare a list of yoga poses that must be completed during timed intervals. For example, after the first five minutes, students must do one Sun Salutation or ten jumping jacks. After ten or fifteen minutes, students could practice two standing poses such as dancer and tree. At the conclusion of the activity, students could create any standing yoga pose that looks like their “Marshmallow Challenge” creations.
- Add Yoga to The Dot Game: If you are new to the classic paper-and-pencil dot game, review the premise of the different connect the dots challenges in the link above and make sure you have a cheat sheet or answer key with you to know all of the different ways to solve the game. In-between each dot challenge, prepare a short series of postures. Instead of doing the dot game on a piece of paper, make it like Twister, using human bodies. The lines are your student’s bodies. The dots can be homemade with your own dot board by creating dots with construction paper or poster board, or you could modify a Twister game. Have your yoga class play the dot game with their bodies as the lines. There are many hilarious twists and turns! Their creativity will inspire you. Before starting the next dot game version, move through some sun salutations or other yoga posture flow.
- Yoga Improvisation (Yoga & Random Words): This activity is Mad Libs meets yoga mat. To begin, use a random word generator on your computer to make lists of random nouns and verbs. Make the font large enough to cut out on strips of paper and be read legibly. Print out the lists. Cut the verbs list and put them in a bag or box. Do the same with the nouns. One at a time, each yogi gets to pick a verb and a noun. They should have at least ten seconds to think about the pose. If they do not know how to read, you must explain the verb and the noun. When the ten seconds are up, the student can go to the center of the circle or the teacher’s yoga mat and give their interpretation of the pose. Have the class guess the pose. For example, if a child pulled slips of paper that said “dancing” and “bird”, perhaps they would hop and wiggle on one leg and tweet. For an additional challenge, have students try a completely silent yoga charades challenge. The other students in class have to guess the verb and the noun they are silently acting out.
One of the best ways to beat winter boredom or blues is to do yoga and to get creative with your teaching and your yogi kiddos. These activities are guaranteed to inspire creativity and mindfulness while being a lot of fun for your little yogis to try out this winter!
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