Whether you are a teacher or parent you can follow our 5 part series of Lesson Plans on Mindfulness for kids to instill the powerful habit of mindfulness meditation in kids at a young age. In this series, each lesson plan focuses on a specific aspect of mindfulness and includes activities and worksheets to practice the concept of the lesson. This is a progressive series on how to teach mindfulness to kids and we recommend you to follow the series in order as each lesson lays the foundation for the next lesson.
In this third lesson of the series, students will learn four different animals and how to use breathing to center their minds.
Lesson 3: Animal Breathing
In this lesson, students will learn to use their breath as an anchor for mindfulness practices. They will practice four breathing exercises based on different animals, and discuss how they can use breathing to focus their awareness.
Prior to this lesson, students should be familiar with the concept of mindfulness and anchors. You may choose to start by having students reflect on what they already know about anchors, and their experiences using their five senses to help with their mindfulness practices.
If you’d like, you may choose to bring stuffed animals along to this lesson to help demonstrate the exercises: a bear, bunny, bumblebee, and lion.
Begin the lesson by reminding students of how they have practiced mindfulness so far, using their five senses as an anchor. Explain that another common anchor for mindfulness practice is our breath; when we feel ourselves getting distracted, we can come back and focus on our breathing instead. For this lesson, students will learn several different ways to use their breath as an anchor.
Have students find a comfortable place around the room to sit and relax. Guide students through the four animal breathing exercises below, using the stuffed animals to demonstrate if you choose. Repeat each exercise for several breaths, and allow time for students to reflect after each one. (You can do these in any order.)
- Bear Breathing: Bears hibernate in winter and stay asleep for a long time. As they sleep, they breathe very slowly. Close your eyes and pretend you are a bear, asleep in your cave. Place your hands on your belly and take a long, slow breath in. Feel your bear belly get bigger and bigger… Then breathe out, as slowly as you can.
- Bunny Breathing: Sit up tall, and hold your bunny paws in front of you. Take small, quick bunny breaths in: “Sniff! Sniff! Sniff! Sniff!” Then let all the air out. Feel your belly muscles working!
- Bumblebee Breath: Place your fingertips on your head, using your thumbs to lightly block sound from your ears. Sit up tall, and take a deep breath in. As you slowly breathe out, make a soft humming noise, like the buzzing of a bumblebee.
- Lion’s Roar: Sit on your feet, with your knees bent in front of you. Place your hands on the floor in front of you and lean forward, making your spine long. Look forward, and stick your tongue out as far as it can go! Then, make a loud lion roar (keeping your tongue out): Rahhhh! Rahhh!
After practicing each of the breathing exercises, invite students to reflect about how they felt after doing the exercises. Tell students that when they practice mindfulness, they can choose any of the animal breathing exercises to use as an anchor—or, they can just breathe normally, and practice counting each breath one by one.
Questions for Further Discussion:
- How were the breathing exercises different from the five senses mindfulness exercises?
- What other breathing exercises could we do based on animals? Have fun creating your own!