Early Literacy: ABC Yoga

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I just started again working with our early childhood students (ages 3-5), incorporating movement/yoga and breathing into literacy activities.  Its always such a wonderful surprise (no matter how many times I experience it) to discover what natural yogis kids are, especially the really little ones.  Because it was our first class, we practiced doing Sun Breaths and our Om on the third breath.  Unlike older kids, these little guys don't feel silly or self-conscious the first time they do this.  They just settle into the breath and Om like a fish to water.  The silence right after the Om is so gorgeous.  Then I introduced Om as a way to manage behavior.  When we are getting really silly and the kids hear me "Om" they are expected to come back to their seated position.  We practiced this and again - amazing.  No matter how crazy they got, when hearing "Om" they got just as peaceful just as fast.

Our activity this week focused on letter/sound knowledge. I made up flashcards with each letter of the alphabet and corresponding animal.  The kids would name the letter that was coming next ("what comes after C?  Yes D!") and we would make the sound together.  They would guess the animal or I would show them, and then we would do the corresponding pose.  Because we only had 20 minutes, we got through about half the alphabet in one class.  It was so fun!  The kids were engaged throughout with both the literacy activity and the poses.  We imagined what each animal might sound like, and then incorporated a breath activity by breathing in through our nose and breathing out while making the sound. We also gave the animals different emotions and played out what the animals sounds would sound like if they were happy, sad, angry, etc.

At the end of class, I worked with the kids on sending "friendly wishes" (culled from Susan Kaiser Greenland's The Mindful Child) , which is another name for "loving kindness."  We put our hands on our hearts and send a wish to ourselves for happiness.  Then we visualized our moms and dads, and sent them a wish for happiness also.  Beautiful!