Today was my friend Marcey and my first experiment with incorporating active yoga into a read aloud and literacy activity for her 4th grade class. We chose The Story of Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe because it is one of the reserved books for my school’s 4th grade class and because its message ties in perfectly with a mantra I introduced the last time I was there: lokah samasta sukhino bavanthu. It means “may everyone be free and happy.” I also add “and my actions, words, and kindness contribute to everyone’s freedom and happiness.”
Briefly, this Native American story centers on a little mouse who journeys across the water, desert and mountains to finally make it to the faraway land he’s heard about in stories from elders. Along the way, he selflessly uses his gifts to help other animals he meets. Its a great message and a beautiful story. After we picture-walked, practiced the poses, and read the book, students were given pictures of each pose along with the name and asked to sequence the story based on those pictures. Then they were asked to retell or summarize each part of the story in their writers notebook.
All in all the lesson went well, and the kids were into doing the poses, making the animals sounds, breathing exercises, etc. The sequencing was tricky for some, so we’ll need to go back and reflect on whether that was because sequencing in general is difficult for them or because we need to change something in the lesson to make it more clear. One hiccup we ran into along the way was realizing that it was going to take slightly longer than 45 minutes to get through the whole lesson, including the retell/summary portion. We had to stop before they could write the retell/summary, and Marcey had to revisit it later with the kids.
To make the sequence pictures find pictures of the poses online, put them in a document, print one set for each student, and then cut them up. Or, if you have time, I recommend you take photos of yourself or one of the kids doing the poses. It will make the activity more personal, consistent, and fun for the kids.