There is a clear link between the practice of Yoga and nature. I’ve noticed that focusing on nature resonates well with children and adults. Here are some activities to incorporate into a Nature Themed Yoga class. It is also a great theme for a Hebrew School class. With the Jewish Holiday of Tu B’Shevat (aka Birthday of the Trees) approaching (1/25/16), I am reminded again to be mindful and to notice what is around us. I prefer a hands on approach to teaching children about mindfulness and nature:
Pretend to be a teeny tiny seed
Imagine you are a teeny tiny seed (child’s pose) and close your eyes. Imagine what type of seed you are what you are going to grow into. Maybe you’ll be a very tall and strong tree. Maybe you will be a teeny tiny tree. Maybe you will have many leaves of different colors. Maybe the leaves will all be the same color. Maybe you will grow into a money tree or a candy tree! Anything you can think of you will grow into! Take a big breathe in and as we slowly count backward from 5, we will grow! Helpers sprinkle children with water and blow bubbles as they grow.
Uncurl your body and you are a beautiful tree (tree pose). What type of tree are you? Try blowing in the wind but stay sturdy and grounded. Keep your legs strong and grow your branches up high! Maybe try to look up. Maybe even close your eyes! See how still you can be. Switch legs and imagine you are a different type of tree! What type of tree are you now?
Before we go on our nature walk around the playground, I explain to the children that they are to look for certain items on a list I have prepared. In addition to finding these items, the children should notice nature around them. They can note what they hear, smell, touch, and feel! After the walk, we will discuss all the wonderful things we noticed and our favorite things about nature!
We made magnifying glasses out of old plastic soda bottles in preparation for our nature walk. The children were split into groups with our teen helpers. (There are many online resources for nature walk ideas.)
Mindful eating is a great way to really notice our food! I made a Tu B’Shevat Taste test and you can make up your own as well! The children worked with partners and determined if the food was sweet, salty, sour, spicy or spicy!
Read a story about nature
A class favorite story was Happy Birthday, Tree: A Tu B’Shevat Story by Madelyn Rosenberg. It is a very sweet story about a girl celebrating the trees birthday, which is a little different than a person’s birthday! Another option is The Listening Walk by Paul Showers that teaches about slowing down and noticing!
Plant Grass Seeds
- Challenge students to be extra mindful of what is around them this week
Teaching about nature is so much fun for the teacher, children and parents!