Updated: Apr 30, 2022
As music teachers, we spend a lot of time engaging our students in active music making. Our classes include singing, dancing, playing instruments, and using props like scarves and parachutes. At the same time, students also need moments of calm, reflection, and stillness. In this blog post, I share a few resources and ideas for when students need to slow down and catch their breath. Try out a few and see which ones work best for your classroom.
This amazing visual tool has an immediate calming effect and encourages mindful breathing in a playful way. Some refer to it as a "breathing ball." When you open up the sphere, encourage children to take a deep breath in, making their belly expand like a balloon. When you close the sphere, encourage children to breathe out, letting out the air in their belly.
I love using a chime bell in our music classroom to help students regain focus after a high energy activity, as a transition, or simply to take a pause. Every time I play the chime, we practicing breathing in and out. I always play it three times, focusing on the sustained sound.
Using Imagery to Practice Breathing
Take a Breath: 5 Deep Breathing Exercises that Help Kids Get Calm highlights creative ways to practice breathing using imagery: the flower breath, the bunny breath, the snake breath, and blow out the candle. My students enjoy all of these variations and leading the breathing exercises, too. Check out the link for more ideas.
"Breathe" by Stephanie Leavell of Music for Kiddos is a beautiful melody with lyrics that guide children to "breathe, just breathe, take a deep breath, and just breathe." The song length is developmentally appropriate and allows students to focus on calming their mind and body.
Want even more ideas?
Check out Rae Pica's videos featured below. She is an education consultant and author dedicated to developing and educating the whole child. In the short clips, she gives child-friendly recommendations for deep breathing (pretending to be balloon) and contracting and releasing muscles (statues v. rag dolls and uncooked v. cooked spaghetti). Her ideas are extremely helpful and can be easily integrated in a music class, dance lesson, or homeroom classroom setting.
When Children Need to Wind Down by Rae Pica
When Children Need to Wind Down II by Rae Pica
So, will you be trying some of these calming strategies in your classroom? Like Rae Pica says, "relaxation is a learned skill", and children need consistent practice and guidance from us to cultivate a sense of calmness and self-regulation. I hope these recommendations have given you a few new ways to think about what's possible. Remember: no one size fits all when it comes to teaching kids calming strategies, but hopefully this blog post has given you some great insight on where start! Drop us a comment below and share your thoughts or questions.