I really enjoy using props and games in my yoga classes, so I thought I'd list a few here that are my "go tos." In part I need a list to keep myself organized, but also because I'd love to know any games/props that others use so I can keep on adding to my repertoire!
- Hoberman Sphere! I've posted on this one before :)
- Balls: I get soft, medium-sized balls to use for gratitude circles, ball-pass games, Plow relays, and to roll down the kids backs during Plank pose.
- Drishtis: While not a specific prop, I use little balls, stickers, gemstones - sometimes even a shoe - as drihstis (focal points) for kids during poses when they really need to concentrate, like in balancing.
- Singing bowl: I use this all the time to start class, and spend a few moments in quiet breathing. I also use it for Mindful Listening activities.
- Yoga Pretzel cards: These just happen to be the set I have, but any set of yoga cards will do. I carry them in my bag all the time, to get inspiration, show kids how to do certain poses, or play games. I recently saw a set of cards from the Samarya Center in Seattle which had doubles for all the cards so you could play Go Fish or Memory. Love that idea!
- Books! If you follow Wild Things Yoga, then you know my number one prop, especially for younger kids, is definitely books. I incorporate one into most classes that speaks to a yoga-related message.
- Gratitude journals: I don't typically use these for regular classes, but I do incorporate them into longer classes or yoga camps. I love having the kids record the things they are grateful for each day!
- Hula hoops: Because I don't own multiple hula hoops, I mostly use these when they are easily available at a school. But I love them for cooperative group activities (i.e. linking hands and using all other body parts and partner support to get the hoop around the circle). I also have used them to help kids get into Dancer pose.
- Zoom, Zorch, Zsoosh: I learned this game at a mindfulness retreat this summer. Everyone sits in a circle, fairly close to each other. One person starts by "holding" an imaginary ball between their hands. They can either "Zoom" (hand it) the ball to the person on either side of them, or "Zwoosh" (throw it ) the ball to anyone else in the circle. Whoever "catches" the ball, can then "Zoom" it or "Zwoosh" it to someone else. BUT the people on either side of the person with the ball can "Zorch"(holding hands up) to refuse the ball, forcing the person with the ball to find someone else. Notes: You cannot "Zorch" (or refuse) the ball if it is "Zwooshed" to you; you can only "Zorch" it if its "Zoomed" to you. AND you cannot "Zwoosh" the ball to anyone sitting right next to you - you can only "Zoom" to them. Super fun, but the trick is that it has to move fast! Maybe giving a limit on how long someone can "hold" the ball, like 5 seconds, before they have to pass it….
- Plow relays: The kids all sit in Staff position, one right behind the other. The child at the start of the line holds a (real) ball between their feet, and rolls back to Plow pose to pass the ball to the person behind them. That person catches the ball with their feet and repeats. You can vary this by having kids race to the back of the line after they pass the ball to keep the line going indefinitely, or you could make it a competition between groups.
- Downward Dog tunnels: If you have the room, so fun! Have the kids all line up and then get into Downward Dog. The kid the far end gets down on their belly and crawls through the tunnel. At the end, they pop up and get into Downward Dog, and then the next kids goes through. Again, you can make this go on indefinitely, or have a race, or just have everyone go through once….so many options.
- Intuition: This one can take a while, so I only do it if I have extra time. Everyone sits quietly on their mats. One child leaves the room, and a small object (I use a flat picture) is hidden under a mat, The child comes back into the room and has 2-3 guesses to use their intuition to guess where the object/picture is hiding.
Statues/Night at the Museum/Catch the Birdies: So many names for this game. The teacher (or another student) turns their back, during which time the kids can go bananas on their mats. When the teacher/child turns around (or turns on the light, or rings a bell) everyone must be frozen on their mats in a yoga pose. If you're playing competitively, anyone caught moving must sit down on their mat for either the rest of the game or just one round. Usually, I play this with younger kids and they have so much fun that I don't feel the need to do it competitively. I have also seen this with a large group where the teacher/child walks around the room - when their back is to you, you can move but if they catch you moving, you're out.
Hopping Game (adapted from The Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland): Kids stand in a circle facing to the side (right or left) so that they are looking at the back of the person in front of them. The yoga mats separate each child. The teacher gives verbals prompts of "stand" "breath" "focus" and "hop." The teacher also hits a drum or bell with the word "hop." When the cue to hop is given, the kids all hop over their mats in unison. As the kids get into the routine, begin reducing the number of verbal prompts, eventually just saying "hop" or hitting the drum to cue them to hop together. You can slow speed up the time between hops as the kids get better attuned to the group's movements.
Beach, Shell, Ocean: I found this one on the Yoga In My School site (although I have also seen it in other places). Have the kids stand in the middle of the room or on a designated line (inside or out). When you say Beach, the kids run to one side of the room. When you say Ocean, they run to the other side. But when you say Shell, they must run to the middle of the room and get into a yoga pose. The faster you go, the more fun this game is! You could also do Home, Trees, Forest or another word variation, especially if you have a theme for your class.
I'm Going to Yoga and I'm Going to Do….: Have the kids stand in a circle. One person starts by saying "I'm Going to Yoga and I'm Going to Do [pose name] pose." They name their pose and the whole group does it. The next person in line does the same thing but after doing their pose, the whole class must also remember and do the first pose. This continues in the circle, with more and more poses being added, making the challenge even harder. You could add an extra challenge by changing the kids' seats around and then doing the round-robin again having to remember each person's pose in the new order.