The Conscious Classroom

Fun: It's Good for Learning - Playing Mindful Games

October 07, 2021 Episode 43
The Conscious Classroom
Fun: It's Good for Learning - Playing Mindful Games
Show Notes Transcript

We all know play is important for little kids. Imagination, working out scenarios, assuming roles. It's how kids develop a wider sense of being in the world. Play is also important for teenagers. They need to have fun while learning. Play can also break up the day, change the rhythm. It teaches important and deep values as well. Games help students see each other in a different light, some students who are less skilled at call and response classroom questions, may excel in game format. It teaches teamwork and leadership. Games support creative thinking by allowing students to think laterally, out of the box, looking for solutions or shortcuts or tricks to excel. Games allow for healthy competition, and no hard feelings if one doesn't excel. Join Amy Edelstein, founder of Inner Strength Education, as she shows how to relate specific games to mindful awareness, how to use games when teaching mindfulness to teens, and how to realize their value as a teaching tool for whole person wellness. 

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Fun, It's Good for Learning - Playing Mindful Games
with Amy Edelstein

Hello and welcome to the conscious classroom podcast. My name is Amy Edelstein. It's been a busy fall getting back to school after being away from the buildings for since March 20 20, that's a long time, almost a year and a half figuring out how to teach in this sort of post pandemic pandemic. And thinking about our students and what they're coming back with their excitement about being back together, their nervousness about being back together.

So in this session of the Conscious Classroom, I want to talk about games about the importance of playing games, about having fun. About how bringing the principles of mindful awareness into your play during school time can really help cultivate students' awareness, attention  camaraderie, teamwork, while allowing them to let loose and have.

The fun has been dampened down a lot during COVID, as we all know. And students have taken to tiktok  to cultivating dance moves that you can do within this very narrow width of your phone's camera. So you can see that we've really been contained. We, we aren't able to in a free form way, let loose in a free-form way, just open up and have fun, to be excited, try and fail. So there are many reasons why incorporating some games as openers in the middle of class or lab periods for a break is going to be really important. This school year, we need to shake things up a little bit in a positive way. We need to allow students to let loose a little bit so they can find their way in this new landscape.

And also we all know that endorphin, serotonin, dopamine, positive feelings, feelings of love and affection and excitement and laughter. Allow the tension of, to relax, allow the stress that activates our amygdala, that activates our adrenaline and that activates our cortisol.    To die down. And when that dies down, students higher capacities their problem solving parts of their brain come more on line

they feel more whole and integrated. They get to know their classmates in a different format and they get to participate and without needing to prove themselves. So games are really valuable. And especially in the landscape that we're in, they're even more valuable.

When we're trying to teach our students critical thinking when we're trying to teach them creativity, when we're trying to teach them good sportsmanship, how to lose with grace, how to support a competitor games are really valuable when you're playing games. Like Simon Says. It helps students cultivate their capacity to pay attention, to careful instructions, to notice their impulse response.

It helps them cultivate memories. And it helps them learn different games, help cultivate a different alternative paths. He tried to figure out how to. Succeed, how to win, how to Excel. And for students who are very conformist, who are afraid, particularly after this time of COVID to be experimenters. And they're just trying to get it right to stay safe, to not get infected and all of those.

Good aspects of COVID protocols have also instilled the sense that I shouldn't color outside the lines. So games can encourage independent thinking and how to cultivate the ability to form different pathways, different solutions to a problem.

For the Inner Strength work in schools this year, we put a lot of time into figuring out some games that could work in games that could work in class and games that could work online. And I thought I would share a couple of these with. Of course games, unless you're playing them, you don't really get the full amount of fun and the full sense of discovery and exploration.

So if you can play them with me, that's great. If you're just gonna listen pull in a child or a student and give it a shot before you roll these out in your classroom. What I want to do is teach you how to use some of these games and also how to link them to the qualities of mindful awareness that we're developing with our more traditional mindfulness practices.

So the first one, as I mentioned earlier, is Simon Says  you can also play this,  on zoom and you can choose a gender neutral name. So you are welcome to swap the names out or have your students choose a name, make sure that it's not your own name or a name of somebody in the classroom. So nobody's giving commands that it's just a neutral name.

Now the rules for Simon Says are simple. The leader will say, Simon says, put your hands on your head. And then students will put their hands on their head. If the leader says, put your hands on the head on your head, but doesn't say Simon says, then the students do not put their hands on them. Now the tricky part with Simon says is the leader can say, Simon says, put your hands on your head, but their actions are putting their hands on their knees till you're trying to make sure people, the participants are paying attention.

They're following the verbal cue of Simon says they're following the instructions and they're not getting confused or distracted if you're trying to divert their attention by doing a different action. So good Simon says with zoom or Google meets or blue jeans or whatever online forum we are using, instructions are Simon says, move close to your case.

Simon says move as far away from your camera, as you can, Simon says, lift your arms up and touch the corners of your box.

Simon says lower your head. So you're off just your foreheads on camera. Simon says, lift your head up. So just your Chin's on.

Simon says, clap. Simon says, pat, your head Simon says, turn around.

You can do any of those instructions. Bearing it, where you're doing the opposite action. You're telling them to do where you are.  Not including the Simon says instruction and you're just trying to trick them up. When you finished the game, everyone is probably laughing and they've probably not been able to follow everything and you keep moving faster and faster.

So it gets more and more confusing. And it's a lot of fun. And at the end to say, okay, what helped you pay attention? Did you close your eyes? So you just listened to the instructions and you wouldn't be confused by my actions. Did you follow the actions first with my body and then listen for the cues to see if they were the same,

ask them what qualities of mindful awareness this cultivate. So you have to really let go and not be. You have to pay attention. You have to not jump ahead. You have to be in the present.

You have to respond to that part of the instructions that you're choosing to pay attention to. You're choosing to pay attention to the voice instructions, choosing to tune out the confusing physical instructions. So you don't do the wrong thing.

Choosing to not pay attention to the people in the class around.

So all of those different aspects of focus, choice discrimination are all being cultivated through the Simon, says link it to how we practice those same mechanisms of choice over thought. When we do our mindful awareness practice. So, this is a really simple one to do. You can do it in person. You can do it virtually. 

The second game I wanted to share with you is a body mind relationship. And this goes well with the thought with the body scan lesson, it goes well, when you're teaching students to be aware of their physicality, It's also cultivating their imagination and their connection between what they think and what they're able to feel in their bodies, the power of thought and the reason why we want to cultivate good discrimination, good thought.  The reason why we want to really develop our discrimination and ability to choose what we put our attention on, because thought has an impact. It can make our bodies feel differently. It can make our emotions feel differently

in this we'll use our hands and we use different cues. So you say, okay, your hand is not really a hand right now. It's, it's like a blank slate. And with your thoughts, you're gonna project onto your hands and turn them into all kinds of different objects. So the first one let's look at our hands let's balance them just in the air in front of us.

And now imagine that your hand is as light as effect. In fact, imagine that your hand is a feather, let your hand move like a feather in a gentle wind. Feel the lightness, feel how it floats up and floats down. So weightless moving slowly, effortlessly through the air. Imagine agenda way. Imagine the little parts of the feather, just fluttering in the breeze.

See how light your hand can move. You can close your eyes. Just imagine that your hand is a feather floating on a warm summer breeds, dancing and moving in the wind.

Now, bring your hand to resting point, allow the feather to dissolve

and imagine your hand is made of the heaviest lead. It's one huge solid lead block. Move your hand through the air as if it were a lead block, notice how hard it is to push your hand through the air because of how heavy it is. Feel your hand drawn downwards by gravity, because it's so weighty, try to pick your hand up, move at, through the air as heavy as it is. Make the effort to lift that heavy, heavy lead block. let your hand rest in the air. Heavy weighted solid. Now bring your hand in front of you. Allow that led weight to dissolve.

And now make your hand as strong as Captain America's hand feel the power in it. Make your hands strong and invincible. Fill it with super power strip. I feel your hand strong and invincible feel the superpower pulsing in your hand. Feel the confidence is Captain America, that your hand can vanquish any foe however, great.  Your hand is filled with Captain America's superpower.

And now let that superpower dissolve. Let your hand come back to neutral in front of you,

and now feel your hand as new as a little tiny babies. I feel how it's just moving, exploring, checking out the air, checking out the world, moving as it for the first time, just like a tiny baby, trying to figure out what a hand is for what the world's all about. So delicate, so fragile. So new.

Let your hand be as innocent as a tiny newborn baby's hand

and allow the last one, make your hand as caring as it can be. What does a caring feeling look like? Fill your hand with Carolyn. Let it hold itself or hold your other hand or rest on your other arm. Fill your hand with caring and kindness.

What's it like to make your hand filled with caring? What's it like to fill your hand with kindness?

Now, bring your hand back to neutral and we can finish.

So when you work with the transformation exercise like this, you're really helping students cultivate their imagination. And notice the emotion, mind, body interconnection. So get this, your students to write about that. Interconnection. How did your thoughts change the sensations you felt in your body? How did your, your imagination change the feelings that you felt.

Really make help your students bring this interplay into their conscious awareness, helping them understand that how we think can support good feeling and that when we're feeling low or down or sad, we can use our imagination and help us shift our state of.

So the last exercise is another good mindful awareness and attunement exercise, and that's mirroring. So with a partner and even in COVID students can stand six feet apart and have them look at each other. And have one, be the lead and move their hands and the other one be the mirror and then switch.

So they're really cultivating attunement, teamwork, trust, support the person leading needs to move slowly enough. So the person following can follow. The person following needs to pay, stay with their partner. So they're not jumping ahead, over anticipating. So letting your students really meld and work with one another, you can have music on in the background to mirror.

Hands can be fun. They can use their feet. Some of them. Add in some complicated dance moves that no one can follow and afterwards have a discussion about what it feels like to lead when you're trying to help the person follow you. Not trying to trick them. What's it like to follow where you're really trying to stay with your partner?

How do you have to be aware? Where are you putting your attention? What thoughts are you not paying attention to, to stay present, to stay with your partner and then invite your students to explore how do they practice these principles when they're doing homework together, when they're studying together, when they're in a group discussion together.

So those are three simple mindfulness related. Games that you might be familiar with in other contexts, but anchoring them and linking them to our mindful awareness practices is what makes all the difference. So you can start with a game like this. You can end with a game like this, you can use it in the middle of your mindfulness session to switch things.

Always reminding the students about what they're learning and why it's important, how this relates to their life, teaching them how to pay attention to the skills that they're learning as they're learning them

this year is a Hardy. This year is a year where we are bringing the students back in to the collective learning environment.

It's a year where we want to do everything possible to show our students how we're providing support.

And to help them make that transition back into teamwork, back into socialization, back into good learning habits. Back into self care, back into making their school experience. One that's rich, open exciting. Generative imaginative and caring.

So thank you all for tuning in this week, I will be continued to be sharing really tools directly from the classroom and insights about how we can use this moment in time. To work with the disruption in culture and life, as we've had it to something that is transformative of our educational process.

And that brings love and kindness back into our educational system as the foundation of the world that we share. Thank you so much.