Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Great Games for a New Kids Yoga Class


This question came in from a reader:

Any advice on teaching a group of kids, 21 to be exact,

with ages ranging from pre-school to 5th grade?
Any feedback is greatly appreciated!


Unfortunately I’ve lost track of who sent in this question so please leave a comment if it was you – especially with an update.

This is a great question because as a teacher there are a lot of challenges in a class like the one described. It’s a large group – 21 kids. But then on top of that you’ve got a huge age range. We’re talking pre-school ages who can be 2.5 to 5 years old and 5th graders who are nine or ten years old. Think of the difference in development and interest between a 2.5 year old and a ten year old.

These two situations create a challenge for most teachers.

Is it an Ongoing or Onetime Class?
What helps me decide what to do is based on do many factors, one being the type of class: Is it a regular group or a onetime affair?

If you are teaching this class on a regular basis you may want to consider setting a limit to the class size or bringing in an assistant to help you (more on that in another post).

When I teach an ongoing class I want to get to know the kids, learn their names, and discover what they like. I will choose games at the beginning for team building with the group. This will help them get to know each other and build a team spirit.

Team Building Exercise – The Human Train
Get everyone to line up together and go around the room like a human train. Depending on the size of the group you can do it single file or a double line. Go around the room and pick up passengers and let off passengers. The kids will have fun moving and working together with this activity.

Name Games
There are many games to help you learn names, for me the best way is to repeat the names as often as possible till they sink in.

One name game is sitting in a circle start with the person on your left and ask them to say their name and do a movement (like stretch arms, wiggle toes, can be anything). Then the person to the left of them says their name and does a new movement, then repeats the last person’s name and movement. Then the next person does their name and movement and all the ones before.

Who’s going Last? The Teacher
I like this game with a large group especially when I put myself in the HOT SEAT of going last. It really forces me to pay attention and also gives the kids a chance to help me – which they like to do. The kids also like to help each other so I ask them not to help unless they are asked. Usually the older kids help the younger ones.


However, if the class is a onetime special event type of situation, then it is not as important to learn everyone’s name. I want to have some fun with the group, introduce yoga exercises and maybe play a game.

In A Onetime Class – Save The Game For The End
If this is a special occasion class that is just happening once, I would skip the part of learning names and instead play another game at the end of the class. There are so many fun games.

If you have just a short amount of time – everyone loves a freeze dance. When the music stops ask the kids to freeze in a new yoga pose each time.

If you have a longer time, you can play one of longer games depending on your time and the space available. Yoga bowling is fun. Bring a beach ball (or we play it with a big yoga ball when it is available) and have the kids become the pins. One kid bowls the ball at the kids sitting like pins. The pins can move out of the way to avoid being hit as long as they don’t stand up.

Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.

Aruna Humphrys
www.YoungYogaMasters.com


P.S. Today is the last day for early registration for the Kids Yoga Teacher Training course in Toronto. It is filled with games, yoga activities, themes, and ideas for teaching kids yoga. Click here to register early to save $40.

2 comments:

T said...

You are a gem! Thanks so much for responding, and for such a thorough response! This week I am teaching my third class of 21 kids. It is an ongoing class-once per week for 10 weeks.

In the future, I plan to definitely request that the kids be split into two groups and keep the preschoolers separate.

Thus far all the kids have been engaged and having fun, for at least the first 30 minutes. Thereafter, it is a bit challenging to reign them back in.

On the first class we did a name game (for my benefit, of course!) using a ball toss. So good to know I was on the right track with your suggestions! Love your suggestion about the game with the movement. I think I'll try that one in this week's class. Hopefully I will have mastered everyone's name at the end.

In the past two classes I have incorporated games - crab tag, potato spoon balancing, and trips to the farm to visit the animals, find the rattlesnake. Crab tag was a huge hit! Love your suggestion about Yoga bowling. Imitation is the best form of flattery, so I hope you don't mind if I steal that one!

As I mentioned, one of the challenges is towards the end of class (last 20 minutes or so). This is when the attention span of the younger kids is completely tapped out. I get multiple requests for bathroom and water breaks and some general wandering. I plan to reiterate the class rules - bathroom before class begins, water after class, stay on you mat and if mats are not in use, sit quietly on the sideline. I welcome any advice. Is there a particular activity I can have the disengaged kids complete? That sitting quietly thing is wishful thinking right now!

Also, what are your thoughts on having the older kids to assistant teach? If you think it is a good idea, are there activities that are great teaching assistant opportunities?

I am so thrilled to have found your blog - such a yoga lifeline!

Teaching Kids Yoga said...

Hi T - thanks for the update.

You're totally on track with the bathroom before class rule! Unless there is an special request.

The last part of the class you could do some coloring with the whole group. Bring in some markers and get them to draw yoga poses or animals or your theme.

Sometimes the younger kids just need to watch for a while so you could try setting up a resting mat where kids can watch what's happening and don't have to join in.

I like to get the older kids to assist by demonstrating the poses and then I can point out the allignment on the model. eg. hands are parallel, feet here, etc.

I'll post more on this topic soon!

- Aruna