This month’s mindfulness practice for kiddos is a quieter version of the classic game – duck duck goose. They love it, so use it to teach mindfulness!
Setting it up: Explain that this game is a little bit like duck duck goose, but it is quiet and we will be using instruments. Explain that every child will get a turn and we are working on waiting quietly for our turn, respecting our friends’ turns the way we want to be respected when it is our turn. Tell them to keep their eyes straight ahead and just listen for when the triangle sounds behind them, and then it will be their turn. Teacher should model the game as the first “ducker.”
Playing: Children simply arrange in a circle and the “ducker” walks quietly around the circle while others stay quiet (if you’ve got a rowdy bunch, teacher may need to sing a little “Walk around the circle, circle, circle…. choose a friend” to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb to help focus their attention; sometimes I also sing “if you are having trouble waiting, rub your hands, rub your cheeks, pat your lap, etc.). When the walking child comes to the “goose”, they play the triangle (or another instrument) behind them. Make it clear to the children, that they should not watch, but just listen for the triangle to be played behind them, and then it will be their turn. Then, it is the next child’s turn to walk around the circle and play the triangle behind a friend.
If you would like to add a little more to this game, you could have the “ducker” choose and instrument to play behind their friend (triangle, maraca, rhythm sticks, shaker) and the friend must guess which instrument is being played. This could make the game a little longer if you have friends for whom choosing is difficult.
I played the simple version of this game with groups of 15-18 four and five years olds and I was pleasantly surprised at how much they were able to quietly focus, how respectful they were of each other, and how much anticipation and weight they attached to their walk around the circle and playing of the instrument.
Pre-Game: You may want to start out by actually playing duck duck goose earlier in the day or at recess (if you play it before you start the mindfulness part, it will make for a VERY long game).
Post-Game: “Catch the vibration” – Kids love this and it can be a mindfulness activity all on it’s own! Ding the triangle and show how you can “catch” the sound. You can let a child demonstrate how when we hold the triangle and ding it, the sound can’t get out, but when we hold the ring, the sound is loud. Explain as much about vibration and sound as you want. You can let them feel the vibration in their throat as they talk or sing. They can often feel the vibration when they grab the triangle. One child this month described the feeling as “bumpiness in my hand.” Let each child grab the triangle and “catch” the sound, seeing if they can feel the vibrations. All of this serves to awaken their senses, encourage them to be curious and make connections.