Early Literacy: The Curious Garden

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This week in my after school yoga class we read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown.  I absolutely love this book.  It is based on NYC's Highline Park and drives home two beautiful mesages: that one person can change the world, and that we embrace nature in all areas of our lives. Because yoga is based on many ideas, animals, concepts, objects, etc. found in nature, The Curious Garden seemed a perfect choice for this week's session.  

Based on our first two classes, I came prepared with a few new ideas. The first was to give each child a sticker at the top of their mat that they could use to help focus their eyes during balancing poses. Who knew such a small thing would make such  big difference?  The kids' ability to stay longer and more focused in poses such as Tree and Bird was awesome!  

I also came with an outline of a meditation in my head for savasana (that I had rehearsed at home a few times) but also an open mind to changing it if the kids weren't responding or shared something applicable during the session.  Again, what a difference!  I took the kids on a "walk" of a garden and had them settle under a tree eventually.  In the visualization the kids imagined the tree roots growing down into the earth and collecting the water and nutrients that then traveled up the roots and gave the tree energy. I had the kids imagine they too had roots that grounded them and brought them energy.  I had them imagine the sun moving across the sky and bringing energy down from the rays through their head to meet the energy of their roots.  It was awesome.  The kids were so peaceful and settled.  Even after I finished they stayed calm and resting with their eyes closed.  Only when the chimes signaled them to wake their bodies up did the kids come to life.  In this small window of time, I saw again how powerful meditation and mindfulness is for young children.

The third idea I actually used to help me prepare before the session. I changed up my lesson plan format to reflect more of this from Little Flower Yoga in New York.  I love their approach to connecting, breathing, moving, focusing, and relaxing, and it ties in so much to what I'm hoping to accomplish with kids through yoga and meditation.