After all these years of teaching, I’m working hard to get creative and keep my classes fun and fresh. Props are a great way to infuse a little fun into your teaching.
Here are a few of my favorites and how I use them:
1. Paper Suns. As you have been able to notice from my photos, I LOVE using the paper suns. They are a staple in my teaching. Kids and parents love them and they are especially great for preschoolers in getting them to focus. The suns help bring stillness as the kids stand like tall, strong mountains while I place a sunshine on their heads. They work so hard not to move or wiggle so their sun won’t fall. We use the suns to take a big warming sun breath. The suns are helpful as a body awareness exercise as we touch all the different body parts with our suns. I also use them as a placeholder for other props I use.
2. Animal Cards/Beanie Babies. Kids yoga is based on so many animal poses which makes using these animal cards and stuffies just a no-brainer when it comes to teaching. I use the cards in so many ways. Some examples:
~I let the kids pick a card and we do the poses. I like to give clues to the different animal traits and let them guess which animal I’m describing.
~I use the animal cards for my musical mat game. When I play music, they dance around the mats, when the music stops, you freeze on a mat and do the pose of the animal card that is on that mat.
~Beanie babies can be used the same way, but are more tactile so we do lots of poses with our beanies on our bodies. The beanie baby can go under our bridge, sit on our tables, be used as a breathing buddy. It’s really endless!
3. Breathing Ball. I’m sure you’ve all noticed lately how many kids yoga teachers are using the breathing ball now to teach with. It’s a fad that has taken off and for good reason. It gives such a concrete visual representation of our breath that kids are able to calm their bodies just watching it go in and out. Bringing the breath to the movement is obviously the goal, but I see them relax in just watching me use the ball. When I bring out my breathing ball, the eyes widen and smiles get big and the kids get so excited. Today one of my kids said to me:
“Ms. Lani, do you know what my favorite part of yoga is? The breathing ball!”
I honestly must hear that same statement at least 5x a day. I think every classroom teacher needs to purchase one of these amazing toys. You can find your very own breathing ball here!
4. Books. There are so many books that were not written to be kids yoga classes, but seem like they were made for it. The Eric Carle Books are a great example of books that seem meant to be used for kids yoga classes. I use Brown Bear Brown Bear, Polar Bear Polar Bear, etc. pretty consistently in all my toddler & preschool classes. Some books are written specifically for a kids yoga class such as all of the books by Giselle Shardlow or My Daddy is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste. If you didn’t already know, I have a kids yoga book too!
As I read books from Zephyr’s book collection to him at night, I am constantly finding perfect books to go along with a yoga class. Literacy and yoga are just meant to go together.
5. Eye Pillows. No yoga class is complete without relaxation with eye pillows. A class doesn’t go by without some of these questions:
“are we going to do relaxation?”
“will we use the eye pillows?”
“can I keep this eye pillow?”
They love it. I made these eye pillows with flaxseed, chamomile and lavender. The kids usually love the smell and they are small enough that it is the perfect weight for their little faces. I’m not sure if it’s the eye pillows, my bells, the footrubs or the peaceful music and meditations, but these kids are extremely relaxed and usually are not ready to get up when I ask them to. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from a teacher: