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Madison Metropolitan School District

Movin' Minds

teachers and students practicing mindfulness

Movin' Minds began 6 years ago at Stephens after a group of 17 teachers and principal Sarah GG formed a group to plan around student and staff wellness.  The original plan alternated days where the students would participated in a movement activity and a mindfulness guided relaxation each day over the intercom.  This pattern continued for a few years and this year we have created more of a mindfulness and breathing focus with only one day of movement.

There have been some other Movin' Minds highlights over the years.  One year we had a family wellness night where we had over 250 people in attendance to do yoga, turbo kick, create healthy snacks and to learn some fun TV alternatives.  Another year, at our community circle, the entire staff and student body did "The World's Largest" Sun Salutation (maybe not really the largest!). Each morning, the whole school starts the day off with a mindfulness practice lead by Ms. Speich.

Each month there is a portion of our school newsletter, The Eagle Eye, devoted to wellness, written by a parent volunteer.   Some examples of topics include: Turning off the TV/Video Games, How to Stay Active in Winter, and Packing Healthy School Lunch.

Students, parents and teachers have all noticed the positive effects this has on the students.  Children have the tools to stop and breathe when they get anxious or stressed. Several parents have reported that their children will remind them to "take a deep breath!" when there is a stressful situation.

Ms. Speich leads the entire school in a mindfulness exercise everday.

Take a Break Spot - Breathing Choices

When students need to take a break, there are mindfulness breathing exercises that they can use to help them calm their heart and bodies down. Here are some examples of breathing choices students can chose from.

chopping board with veggies on it

Chopping Breath

  • Put out your cutting board (hand flat), get out your knife (other hand), inhale fast through nose for each chop (do three)
  • Exhale fast as you move your knife across your cutting board removing the veggies/fruit you were cutting

Watch the video on chopping breath

ice cream cones

Ice Cream Breath

  • Making fists, stack one on top of the other breathing in
  • Exhale, imagine eating all of the ice cream!

Watch the video on ice cream breath

cartoon yoda drawing

Jedi Breath

  • Inhale through nose bringing arms over head from sides.
  • Exhale through mouth bringing hands down to heart center slightly a part, feeling "the force" between the hands.

Watch the video on Jedi breath

Hand holding in a flower shape

Flower Breath

  • Put pinkies and thumbs together with remaining fingers up making a flower. Inhale through nose smelling inside your flower
  • Exhale "ah" out of the mouth outside of your flower, careful not to blow it over.