Kitchen Safety – It’s Important!

Kitchen.

Making food can be super fun and awesome, and to keep it that way, it’s important to practice a few safety tips when you’re in the kitchen. Having adult backup, knowing how to sterilize and clean your work area, and understanding the proper way to handle different types of foods are all things you need to know and do.

Grown-up Back-up

Before you get started, make sure you get permission to start your cooking project. Let your parent know if your recipe uses knives, a stove or any other appliance used to heat food, or other types of kitchen appliances (blenders, food processors, and other stuff like that), you need to ask an adult for help, especially when you’re just learning.

Having an adult helping you while you cook will help keep you safe, and make sure you have the ability to act properly and quickly if something goes wrong. Besides, it’s always great to have a second set of hands in the kitchen…even the professionals have assistants, and sometimes even whole teams!

Wear an apron to keep your clothes clean and avoid staining. Make sure your shirt, especially, isn’t too large and baggy, as loose fabric can get caught on moving appliance parts, catch on fire, and create other hazards.

Big Bad Bacteria

When you’re working with raw food (even vegetables), you have to keep your kitchen, your cooking gear, and yourself — CLEAN. When you keep your materials clean, it keeps bacteria from contaminating your food.

BACTERIA is what makes you sick (germs), CONTAMINATION is what happens when dirty stuff (like bacteria) gets into clean stuff (like your food).  Food doesn’t have to LOOK dirty to BE dirty, so it’s important to:

Practice the following SUPER IMPORTANT safety tips all the time

  1. Before you start, wash your hands with soap and clean water
  2. Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry, egg, and fish products. < Really important
  3. Wash your cutting board, knives, and surfaces, especially in between switching from meat to raw veggies and fruits
  4. Make sure all your fruits and veggies are thoroughly washed (you can fill up the sink with water and a couple Tablespoons of white vinegar to make a good veggie wash)
  5. Clean as you go
  6. Don’t eat raw eggs, or foods that have uncooked eggs in them (like dough)
  7. Wash your hands before you eat
  8. Have an adult help you properly store leftovers

Sharp and Hot – PAY ATTENTION!

Always ask your grown-up if you can use appliances with cutters, blades, or heating elements. If they say it’s ok to use a knife, point the blade away from your body and keep your fingers away from the blade when you’re cutting. And watch it when you’re not using it, too. Be careful where you wave that thing!

Pay Attention! Give 100% of your attention to what you’re doing at all times.

Don’t get burned

  • Use potholders or oven mitts when handling hot pots, pans, or baking trays. Don’t use your shirt, or a towel, or the cat.
  • Turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the stove so you won’t flip them over by accident.
  • Never try to relight the pilot light on a gas stove. Only an adult should do this. An adult should also light the burners for you and make sure to pay close attention when you’re near the stove so you don’t catch yourself, clothes, or utensils on fire.
  • Use only microwave-safe dishes in the microwave. Some dishes can break, crack, explode, or get too hot in the microwave. If you’re not sure if something is safe for use in the microwave, ask your grown-up.
  • NEVER put anything metal in the microwave. Even a little foil on a label can cause sparks and fire.

If you practice good safety and cleanliness, and pay attention to what you’re doing, cooking can be a grand adventure. If you have any questions about what’s safe and what’s not, ask your grown-up! Chances are, they know a thing or two about kitchen safety.

A Thanksgiving Story

Thanksgiving Cornucopia

Enjoy a FREE YogaKids Lesson Plan about Thanksgiving.

Teach your kids the story of Thanksgiving through yoga poses with this original lesson plan.

AGES: 2-6, 7-11

MATERIALS

  • Music and music player (Suggested Music: Native American drums, Hallelujah by K.D. Lang, Colors of the Wind by Judy Kuhn, We Are Native American Tribes by Ella Jenkins)
  • Soft ball
  • Paper tree and leaves
  • Markers/crayons/pens
OBJECTIVE
To learn the story of Thanksgiving through movement. To learn a Sun Salutation as an example of how people from around the world celebrate and give thanks every day.
 
VISUAL VIGNETTE
Prepare a paper tree and leaves. Hang the tree on the wall, and as students enter the space, have them write on the leaves what they are thankful for. Have the students tape the paper leaves onto the tree.


CONNECTING CIRCLE


Introduce the ThemeWe will start celebrating around the world with yoga today. We will start in the United States, celebrating THANKSGIVING!


Centering Circle – Say your name and your favorite thanksgiving food and roll a ball to another student and ask them to share. Go around the circle until everyone has shared.
 
POSES AS PATHWAYS/INTEGRATE THE ELEMENTS


Take 5 BreathLet’s learn about yoga first! Let’s learn yoga breathing…


Sit cross-legged. Lift one finger at a time as you breathe in through your nose and count in your mind: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Pause for a second with your hand up. Slowly breathe out through your nose and count backward – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, putting down one finger at a time for each number. Repeat.


Warm-up– Include any warm up poses you like here.


Volcano – Once upon a time, about 400 years ago, some English settlers were angry with their king!They were not allowed to worship the God they wanted to, so they decided to leave!


Begin in Mountain pose. Bring your fingertips together at the chest. Jump your feet apart. Place your palms together at the center of your body in Namaste Position. Breathe in. Watch your hands as you raise them over your head. Breathe out as you explode your arms outward. Lower them to your sides and return your hands to Namaste. Erupt and release again and again. Make big, exploding volcano noises. Jump your feet back together when you’ve finished erupting.


BoatThey bought a boat called the Mayflower.And sailed it across the ocean.


Begin in L-Sitting pose and place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward.


WavesIt was a hard journey because there were a lot of waves.


Sit on the ground and bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Move your knees and legs back and forth to the left and right, as they ebb and flow like waves. Use this as a transition pose between the wet poses. It is a fun and accessible hip opener.


Moo and Meow and Yawn and FlopAnd they did not have much room to stretch out on the boat.


Begin in All Fours Pose. Line up your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and arch your spine to the sky. Loosen your neck and drop your head down. Breathe out long as you meow. Now lift your chest forward and look up with big cow eyes. Dip your belly down and tilt your sitting bones up. Your back will sink down like a cow’s. Make cow lips and moo deeply from the back of your throat. Go back and forth, meowing and mooing.


Stand in Mountain pose. Yawn as you stretch your arms upward with a big yawning sound and then flop forward in Rag Doll. Repeat several times.


Sunrise/SunsetThey were in the boat for 60 days and nights.


Sit on your heels. Open and close your wings several times. Then open your wings and interlace your fingers above your head. Stretch your arms up as you lift your buttocks off your heels with an inhalation. Exhale and drop your hips to the right as the arms drop left like the setting sun. Inhale and arch your arms overhead like the rising sun. Then, drop your arms to the right as the hips drop left. Repeat.


Tarzan’s Thymus TapThey tried to stay healthy.But many got very sick and some died.


Start in any of the base poses, seated or standing. Make two fists and pound your chest. Pound and tap under your arms, too. Howl, yowl and yodel. Feel the power and vibration of your sounds.


Child’s PoseAfter 60 days, they reached America at Plymouth Rock.


Begin in Heel-Sitting pose. Open your knees a little, so your belly relaxes between your thighs. Bend at the hips and fold forward, letting your shoulders drop down away from your ears and spine. Your arms lie back along the sides of your legs with open palms facing upward. Place your forehead on the floor. Turn your head to one side and take a few breaths. Then, turn to the other and do the same.


Tree/Leaf and Woodchopper – They needed to get warm, so they started to chop down the trees.


Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift one foot and press your foot against the inside of your other leg. You can use your hand to place your foot anywhere between your ankle and inner thigh. Avoid the knee joint. As your balance gets stronger, you’ll be able to raise your foot higher up your leg. Bring your hands to your chest, palms together in Namaste position. Then raise your arms up above your head. Stretch them out wide, like the branches of a tree. Separate your fingers. Balance and breathe. Now repeat on the other side.


Take a stance like a woodchopper with the feet hip-distance apart. Interlace the fingers and swing your ax over your head with an inhale. Exhale as you bring your ax down and split your log. Come back and forth several times. Remain down and then roll up slowly. Repeat.


Warrior SeriesThey had a long, hard, hungry, cold winter, but they tried to stay strong.


Begin in Mountain pose. Step one leg back while bending your front leg. Keep your hips facing frontward as you raise your arms straight above your head. Say, “I am bold!” From Bold Warrior, turn your back foot slightly outward and bring your arms down parallel to the floor. Keep your front knee bent directly over your ankle. Say, “I am brave.” From Brave Warrior, shift your weight onto your front leg. Pick up your back leg and stretch it behind you. Keep both legs as straight and strong as possible. Stretch your arms forward and say, “My own power I can hold!” Repeat on the other side.


Child’s PoseWhen it got warm out, they needed to plant food, but the land was different here, and they had trouble. They also needed seeds.


Acorn to TreeThe Native American Indians had been watching the settlers, and they decided to help. So they shared their seeds and taught them how to plant.


Pretend to dig a small hole. Place an imaginary acorn in the hole. Pat it down and water it. Now pretend to be the acorn in Child’s Pose. Act out the process of an acorn becoming a tree, ending in Tree/Leaf pose.


The settlers were so happy and the Native Americans were too, because they grew so much food, and the settlers wouldn’t have to be hungry anymore! So they celebrated! And we still celebrate that friendship and cooperation today! If we take time each day to be thankful, we are happier and healthier.


Sun SalutationIn India, many people do a Sun Salutation each day to be thankful for the sun rising each day – let’s learn it!


There are numerous styles of Sun Salutations. This is one example. Start in Namaste, raising your arms overhead and stretching upward. Fold forward into Ragdoll pose. Step back with one leg into a lunge. Step back with the other leg into Lizard pose. Slowly come down to the floor with your knees, chest and chin. Bring your hips down to the floor, and lift up into S is for Snake pose. Curl your toes under and stretch into Down Doggity Doggy Down pose. Repeat, beginning with the opposite leg and finishing in Namaste.


Cool Down –Include any cool down or closing poses here.


QUIET QUESTS


“Waves” – Guided Imagery by Maureen Murdock


As you breathe in… and… out, imagine that you are on a wave on the sea going up… and… down… up…and… down. You are perfectly safe, either lying on your back in a sailboat being gently rocked by the motion of the sea. And as you continue to move up… and… down… back… and… forth, you will notice the warmth of the sun relaxing you and feel a gentle ocean breeze. You may notice the color of the sky, the smell of the sea air, and the sound of sea birds above. You notice a sense of calm throughout your entire body as you experience the gentle rocking motion of the sea. Allow yourself to feel nurtured and supported. Think about what you are thankful for. (pause 1 minute) Now it is time to come back. I will ring the bell 3 times. On the third time, slowly open your eyes. Now I will ring the bell 3 more times. When I ring it the third time, please slowly roll to your side. Now, begin to wiggle your toes and fingers, and when I ring the bell the 3rd time, please come to a seated pose.


CLOSING CIRCLE


Namaste Song


Use the song along with the movements to end your YogaKids classes.


Namaste, Namaste, Namaste, Namaste
(Put your hands together at your heart and bow to each other.)


I am the light and the light is me.
(Point toward yourself and then to the sun.)


Namaste, Namaste, Namaste, Namaste
(Put your hands together at your heart and bow to someone.)


I shine bright with all I see.
(Move your Namaste upward like in Volcano pose. Separate and arc your arms outward through the air, and return them to your heart in the Namaste position.)


The light in me sees the light in you.
(Gently touch your hand to your heart, palms down and extend your arm out to gesture toward another person with an open hand.)
 


Bow to me, I’ll bow to you.
(Place your hands together at your heart and bow to someone.)


 
The light in me sees the light in you.
(Point and bow to someone.)


Bow to me, I’ll bow to you.
(Place your hands together at your heart and bow to someone.)


Namaste, Namaste, Namaste, Namaste
(Repeat)

 

Count Your Blessings Craft

Gratitude Jars

Our Blessings Jar began several years back on November 1s. We would nightly write what we were thankful for on a slip of paper and place it in the “Blessings Jar” that rested on the kitchen table. We would watch our blessings grow as the jar became fuller and fuller. One evening, my daughter asked if she could write more than one blessing to be placed in the jar. Of course!  Write down all your blessings.   

On Thanksgiving ,we would read what everyone had written in the weeks prior. However, one Thanksgiving about two years ago, we visited our out-of-town family for Thanksgiving and didn’t bring our Blessing Jar with us. Upon returning home, my oh-so-smart daughter said “let’s not read them but wait till New Year’s Eve and watch the jar get fuller.”   

Our once Thanksgiving Blessings Jar is now an Everyday Blessing Jar. On January 1st we empty the jar to remember all our Blessings from throughout the year. I have to admit it was a GREAT way to start the new year. As we eat dinner each of us choose a “blessing” (slip of paper with a blessing written on it) from the jar, read it aloud then passed the jar to next person to continue till the jar was empty and our hearts were full.   

I was in complete awe listening to what others found important, blessed or special in the months prior.  There were even days and events that I had forgotten. Not only was this a great way to “count our blessings” but also a nice revisit to the special and everyday events we all encountered.  

When we were finished revisiting our blessings, I place the small blessings paper in a special envelope marked “2013 Blessings.” In the years to come, it will be fun to return to the envelop to listen to our blessings and see our child’s handwriting, vocabulary and spelling evolve.

I look forward to watching the jar fill, grow and runneth over with love and gratitude for all our blessings.

Join our tradition of the Blessings Jar.

  • Choose a jar of your choice – mason jar, recycle jelly jar, pretty jar from the store…  look for something that speaks to you.
  • Decorate your jar with your favorite colors, ribbon, yard, stickers. Be creative. Make it yours.
  • Place paper and pen next to your jar to record your daily blessings.
  • Or place a stone, marble or trinket into the jar every time they feel blessed to watch their blessing grow.  

Make this project yours. We would love to hear what you do or see a photo of your blessings jar. May you be blessed with love and gratitude,

Exploring Ahimsa

Ahimsa craft

This YogaKids lesson plan teaches about ahimsa, one of the yamas of yoga philosophy. Ahimsa is the first of the 10 yamas and is about kindness and compassion. Explore this ahimsa with your students with this engaging and delightful lesson plan!

AGES

7-11, 12+

MATERIALS

  • Ahimsa wheel*
  • Markers
  • Tape
  • Music

*Cut cardboard into a large circle and cut the circle into even pieces of a pie.  Each student will need one pie slice. So, if you have 8 students, cut into 8 equal slices. Number the backs so you know how to arrange the pieces back into the circle.)                                                .

SHORT DESCRIPTION

Students will explore one of the yamas, ahimsa, which means compassion or non-violence. Lesson will include teachings on being compassionate to oneself, fellow students, fellow humans, animals and the earth.

DISCUSSION POINTS

In yoga, we recognize 8 limbs, or tools.  We all think of yoga as yoga poses, but the poses (asana) are only one limb of yoga.  The 8 limbs are: 

  • Yamas – moral restraints
  • Niyamas – moral observances
  • Asana – yoga postures
  • Pranayama – mindful breathing
  • Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
  • Dharana – concentration
  • Dhyana – meditation
  • Samadhi – bliss

The very first limb is the yamas, of which there are 5. The very first yama is ahimsa which means compassion or non-violence.  Nonviolence is so valued it stands at the very core and foundation of yoga. Please share ideas for living life with compassion, with. acts of kindness, kind words, or kind thoughts.

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Name Game – Come up with a yoga pose that starts with the first letter of each student and practice that pose.  Example:  Marsha Moo and Meow, Don Down Diggity Doggie Down. Laughing Language

POSES AS PATHEWAYS

Sunrise/Sunset – We are happier when the sun is out.

Sit on your heels. Open and close your wings several times. Then open your wings and interlace
your fingers above your head. Stretch your arms up as you lift your buttocks off your heels with
an inhalation. Exhale and drop your hips to the right as the arms drop left like the setting sun.
Inhale and arch your arms overhead like the rising sun. Then, drop your arms to the right as the
hips drop left. Repeat.

Reach for the Sun – The sun is a symbol of power, growth, health, passion.

Begin in Open Mountain pose. Breathe in and reach up high with an outstretched hand. Grab
a piece of sunshine and pull the power into your solar plexus, your inner sun. Exhale with a
“HAH” breath. Repeat with the other arm. Alternately reach with the left and right arms. As you
practice, increase the force of your breath.

Group TreeHow can we be kind to trees?

Stand in a circle. Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift one foot and press your foot against the inside of your other leg. You can use your hand to place your foot anywhere between your ankle and inner thigh. Avoid the knee joint. As your balance gets stronger, you’ll be able to raise your foot higher up your leg. Bring your hands to your chest, palms together in Namaste position. Then raise your arms
up above your head. Touch hands with around the circle. Balance and breathe. Now repeat on the other side.

Elephant – Elephants re compassionate; they have even been seen using their tusks to pick up a fellow elephant that is injured.

Make a trunk with your arms and interlaced fingers. Swing your trunk. Dip your trunk into
the river and throw it back over your head. Spray the other elephants with your trunk.

Dolphin Dolphins have practiced random acts of kindness by rescuing swimmers from hammerhead sharks. A few generous dolphins have even guided stranded whales back to sea.

Begin in All Fours pose. Lower your elbows to the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips. Grasp your elbows with the opposite fingers to keep proper spacing. Move your lower arms forward, interlacing your fingers, and make a triangle. Breathe in and out, letting your spine lengthen and your tailbone lift up and back. Work your legs as you press your heels towards the floor. Breathe in and out. Move your body forward so your chin touches down in front of your fingers. Then breathe out and lift out of the water.

Moo and Meow – When cows have their best friend with them, their stress levels are reduced compared to when they are with random cows.

Begin in All Fours Pose. Line up your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and arch your spine to the sky. Loosen your neck and drop your head down. Breathe out long as you meow. Now lift your chest forward and look up with big cow eyes. Dip your belly down and tilt your sitting bones up. Your back will sink down like a cow’s. Make cow lips and moo deeply from the back of your throat. Go back and forth, meowing and mooing.

Sun Salutation (any variety) – Play a few fun songs. We thank the sun, and the earth and promise to be compassionate to all living things.  (Suggested songs include Havana by Camila and Brighter than the Sun by Colby Caillat)

There are numerous styles of Sun Salutations. This is one example. Start in Namaste, raising
your arms overhead and stretching upward. Fold forward into Ragdoll pose. Step back with one
leg into a lunge. Step back with the other leg into Lizard pose. Slowly come down to the floor
with your knees, chest and chin. Bring your hips down to the floor, and lift up into S is for Snake
pose. Curl your toes under and stretch into Down Doggity Doggy Down pose. Repeat, beginning
with the opposite leg and finishing in Namaste.

Partner Poses Explore ahimsa with partner poses.

  • Standing Partner Stretch

With a partner, stand back-to-back in Mountain pose. Both partners take one “baby step”
forward. Reach back and take hold of each other’s hands or wrists. Keep your feet rooted to the
floor. Lean gently away from each other, as you stretch your chests and shoulders. Come back
to center and release your hands.

  • Partner Boat

Begin in L-Sitting pose and across from a partner. Place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward.

  • See Saw

Face your partner with your legs open in straddle splits. Keep your sitting bones planted in the
earth. Reach your arms straight across to your partner and take hold of each other’s wrists or
hands. As one person bends forward at the hip hinge, the other leans back and gently guides
their partner’s upper body forward. After a few breaths, switch the person being pulled forward
and the person leaning back. Gently rock each other back and forth, like a seesaw.

  • Sit and Twist

Sit cross-legged in front of your partner with your four knees touching. Put your right arm
behind your back, reach out with your left hand, and grab your partner’s right hand. Breathe in
and sit up tall. Breathe out as you turn away from your partner, twisting your spine, and looking
over your shoulder. When you twist, rotate your spine gradually from the tip of your tailbone to
the top of your head. Inhale as you lengthen your spine and exhale as you twist. Continue to sit
and twist. Then change sides.

  • Rib-Splitting Seated Triangle

Face your partner with your legs open in straddle splits. Firmly plant your sit bones into the
earth. Reach across and take hold of your partner’s hand or wrists. Lift your other arm up
above your head and over to the side as you stretch all the way through the fingertips. Feel
the spaces created between the ribs. Come back to center and change sides.

Group Poses

  • Electric Circle

This pose is done with at least three people. Sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees.
The left hand rests palm up, and the right hand rests palm-down. Breathe deeply into your heart
space at the center of your chest. Feel the breath move across your chest, flow down your arms
and into the hands that you are holding. You might feel or hear tingling. Whenever you feel this
electricity, gently squeeze the hands you are holding. That is the signal to let each other know
that the circuit has been made and the current is flowing. With your lips closed and your tongue
curled upward to touch the roof of your mouth, start humming or buzzing to imitate the sound
of electricity. Get louder and louder, then break the circuit by letting go of each other’s hands.
Sit quiet and listen to the silence.

  • Circle of Friendship Flowers

Kneel in a circle, holding hands. As you inhale, reach your arms up, lift your buttocks off your heels, and stretch back arching your back and neck. As you exhale, continue to hold hands and fold down into Child’s Pose. Repeat a few times imagining all the different flowers that you could be.

Visual Vignette – Create an ahimsa wheel. Have each student draw their expression of ahimsa on one piece of the circle, then tape the circle together and rejoice in the finished product.

Quiet Quests – Guided Meditation with Bhavana

Lie comfortably and notice your breath. Think of a place of beauty in nature. It can be a place you have visited or a place you have only dreamed about. Can be your own back yard, a lush green forest or a soft sand beach with aqua blue waves moving slowly in and out. Imagine yourself in this place feeling completely safe and content. Feel you belly gently rise and fall. Bring your attention to your feet and imagine bathing your feet in the Divine love and notice how that feels. Move your attention up to your lower legs and bathe them in love. Then the upper legs, bathe them in Divine love. Bathe the pelvis and hips in love and notice how that feels. Bring your attention to the belly and again feel it gently rise and fall in a soft nurturing way.

Bathe the belly in love. Bring awareness to the heart and feel a softening, a gentle grace, wrap the heart in love. Feel the throat, and cultivate a spaciousness at the throat, feel the throat washed in love. Move up to the third eye and notice how that feels Feel a soft caressing at the third eye of the Divine’s loving attention. Bring your awareness to the crown and feel a sense of radiant warmth. Feel love moving in on each inhale and growing in intensity with each exhale, filling every space of your being. <long pause 5-10 minutes)

To forgive, we need to feel that we are loved, we don’t want a feeling of lack. This meditation will cultivate self-love and the practitioner won’t need to seek love from other people, Divine love — which we feel when we practice ahimsa — is enough.


Learn how to create and teach a YogaKids Lesson Plan as Certified YogaKids Teacher.

Learning to Unhurry

Elementary Students on School Bus

Wow! Where has the summer gone? Prior to my mommy years, I always thought I would look forward to my children returning to school. However, here I sit  — one week before school is to start — feeling sad, anxious, nervous and downright icky… as I have for the last five years right before school begins. I love our relaxed summer routine.

This “unhurried” theme seems to be calling me this year. My mother posted on Facebook a blog from Huffington Post (“The day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up”) and Yoga Journal’s Daily Insight spoke about the hurried life of children. Just try Googling “Unhurried Child.” You’ll be amazed at what you find. (And if you come across a book called The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind, it’s wonderful.)

And so… I vow this school year will be different — relaxed and unhurried! But how are we going to accomplish such a huge goal in our “hurried” and “multitasking” world? I searched my “mommy tool box” and was quite surprised how many of these strategies I teach in my yoga classes and trainings. Taking what we learn in class into our daily lives — this can help us in our search for balance between pushing and yielding. We learn more, grow more and enjoy more when we “let go and be.”

ESTABLISH A FUN ROUTINE

Morning Magic:

  • Wake up yourself and your child with music rather than the loud, jolting buzz of an alarm clock.
  • Open the windows and blinds to greet the sun with a smile. The whisper of fresh air is an affirmation of what the day will hold for you.
  • Practice a slow, soothing and smooth sun salutation  — or simply stretch together. Open up all your muscles and joints to fresh blood, oxygen and a positive mindset.

Homework Harmony:

  • Develop a daily homework routine. Know your child. Is it better for him/her to do homework directly after school or later in the evening? Or perhaps you have a bright morning child who studies best before school. There is no wrong or right time — just the perfect learning time for your child.
  • Have a clear and neat calendar, listing homework as well as after-school activities.  Your calendar can use pictures, colors and/or words. Remember to keep it fun and engaging!
  • The homework place needs to be as quiet and uncluttered as possible, and should have all the items required for work (pens, pencils, highlighter, books) within reach.
  • Add movement to homework time.
  • Perform Downward Facing Dog while practicing spelling words. (Lifting the feet to “sky write” the words.)
  • Balance in Eagle Pose while practicing vocabulary.

Peaceful Bedtime:

  • Reduce sensory input with your kids and give your children a chance to un-charge. Do a few relaxing YogaKids poses with your kids, such as Child’s Pose and Take 5 Breath. Get more Bedtime Breeze tips here.
  • Snuggle Story Time: No matter the age of your child, reading a bedtime story from a book that’s slightly more difficult than the child’s reading level can help the child learn new vocabulary and generate ideas. And it’s a wonderful connecting time for both of you.

One of the most important lessons to learn is to say “no” to outside obligations that disrupt these routines. From the time your child is born till he/she leaves for college, you only get 936 weeks. How do you want to spend them?

 

M is for Majestic

 

Yellowstone National Park landscape

 

Enjoy a FREE YogaKids Lesson Plan about National Parks!

Start by sharing a little about National Parks!

Did you know… there are 60 National Parks in the United states? In 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park. California has the most parks with nine, followed by Alaska with eight. Have you been to a National Park? If so, which ones? If not, that’s ok! You’re about to go on a trip to many of them right now!

AGES
7-11

MATERIALS

  • Markers
  • Rocks
  • Paper fire
  • Firefly templates
  • Glue sticks
  • Music for savasana
  • Breathing buddies

SHORT DESCRIPTION/TOPIC

Explore our national parks and the great outdoors.

CONNECTING CIRCLE

Affirmations

  • I will stay on my mat.
  • I will keep my hands and my feet to myself.
  • I will always do my best.

POSES AS PATHWAYS/INTEGRATE THE ELEMENTS

Sunrise, Sunset – The sun has risen on our summer vacation.

Sit on your heels. Open and close your wings several times. Then open your wings and interlace your fingers above your head. Stretch your arms up as you lift your buttocks off your heels with an inhalation. Exhale and drop your hips to the right as the arms drop left like the setting sun. Inhale and arch your arms overhead like the rising sun. Then, drop your arms to the right as the hips drop left. Repeat.

Yawn and Flop

Stand in Mountain pose. Yawn as you stretch your arms upward with a big yawning sound and then flop forward in Rag Doll. Repeat several times.

Moo and Meow – Let’s kiss the cat good morning.

Begin in All Fours Pose. Line up your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and arch your spine to the sky. Loosen your neck and drop your head down. Breathe out long as you meow. Now lift your chest forward and look up with big cow eyes. Dip your belly down and tilt your sitting bones up. Your back will sink down like a cow’s. Make cow lips and moo deeply from the back of your throat. Go back and forth, meowing and mooing.

Down  Diggety Doggie Down – And greet our dog.

Begin in All Fours pose. Bend your toes forward. Spread your fingers wide. Press your doggy paws and heels downward as you lift your hips and tail to the sky. Lengthen your spine. Stretch your arms and legs as long as possible. Let your head hang down. Growl, yawn, bark, and make other doggy sounds. Bend your knee and rotate your belly and chest upward as you raise one leg up and “mark your territory.” Lift your opposite leg too. Be sure to keep your hands pressing downward and your arms straight.

READING COMES ALIVE WITH YOGA  

Below is a list of National Parks from A to Z, and the poses are in bold.

Acadia (Maine)

Row, Row, Row Your Boat – Most of the park is on an island!

Begin in L-Sitting pose and place both hands, palms down, alongside your hips. Lengthen your arms and spine. Lean back and lift your legs up. Balance. Stretch your arms forward, palms up. Breathe in and out. Row your arms forward. Reverse, and row your arms backward. Try the pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Big Bend (Texas)

Eagle – Big Bend has more kinds of birds than any other park!

Begin in Mountain pose. Lift your right leg and wrap it over your left leg. If you can, hide your right foot and toes behind your left calf. Bring your bent arms up in front of you and place the right elbow on top of your left. Twist together your forearms bringing your palms together. You can also interlace your fingers. Bend your knees. Untangle yourself and change sides, bringing your left leg over your right leg and your left elbow on top of your right. Try to balance for 10 seconds on each side and gradually increase the time. Use a focus friend if you need guidance.

Crater Lake (Oregan)

Waves – Crater lake is the deepest and bluest lake in the United States – 2000 feet deep

Sit on the ground and bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor hip-distance apart. Move your knees and legs back and forth to the left and right, as they ebb and flow like waves. Use this as a transition pose between the wet poses. It is a fun and accessible hip opener.

Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Talking Turtle – Almost all of the park is under water!

Everglades (Florida)

Crocodiles (Alligator Pose) – This is the home to many crocodiles! Did you know? Crocodile’s snout is pointed and V-shaped, and the alligator’s is wide and U-shaped.Alligators are only found in parts of the US and China, whereas crocodiles can be found across the world. Crocodiles prefer water that is more saline or salty than the alligator’s preferred freshwater habitat. Crocodiles can’t hide their teeth, but alligators’ teeth are sometimes hidden when their mouths are closed.

Lie down on your belly. Stretch your arms in front of you, one palm on top of the other. Open and close your arms like a jaw. Open and close your real jaw as you do this, too. Keep your legs together and lifted like an alligator’s tail. Gently bring your tail up and down.

Key Nifords (Alaska)

Pigeon Series – Almost half the park is covered in ice, and is home to many species of birds!

Begin in Down Diggety Doggy Down. Bring one knee forward and place it between your hands. Lower your hips and keep them aligned. Inhale and lift your chest. Exhale and tuck in your chin. On your next inhalation, walk your hands and chest forward. If possible, come all the way down to the floor. Rest here for a moment. Then walk your hands back toward your body until they align under your shoulders. Lift your chest. Bend your knee, foot pointed towards the ceiling. If possible take a hold of your foot or ankle with one or both hands. Return to Down Diggity Doggie Down and repeat on the other side.

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Squirrel  (Dromedary Delight) If you’re at the bottom, it’s a whole mile to the top. Look up like a squirrel!

Kneel on the floor with your legs and knees hip-width apart. Curl your toes, push your thighs forward, and bring your hands to your lower back. Lift your chest. Breathe evenly in and out as you extend your rib cage and broaden your chest. Continue to lift your chest with each breath as you bring your hands to your heels. Increase the duration and repetitions of the pose as your spine and chest become more flexible. Rest in Child’s Pose after each back-bend.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

Volcano – Lava erupts from the volcano and rushes down to the sea!

Begin in Mountain pose. Bring your fingertips together at the chest. Jump your feet apart. Place your palms together at the center of your body in Namaste Position. Breathe in. Watch your hands as you raise them over your head. Breathe out as you explode your arms outward. Lower them to your sides and return your hands to Namaste. Erupt and release again and again. Make big, exploding volcano noises. Jump your feet back together when you’ve finished erupting.

Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

Wolf (Up Uppity Doggie Up)- Timber wolves run across frozen lake superior to this park!

From Down Diggety Doggie Down, drop your hips and lift your chest forward with an inhalation. Drop your shoulders away from your ears, broaden your chest and keep your arms strong. Keep your legs up from the floor if you can.

Joshua Tree National Park (California)

Half Moon The trees as Joshua Tree are as old as 800 years, named after Joshua in the bible, like Joshua the branches seem to be pointing the way to heaven!

Stand in Mountain. Raise your arms overhead and do a side stretch. Switch sides. Repeat.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon (California)

Tree/Leaf – This is the home of the worlds biggest tree, General Sherman!

Begin in Mountain Pose. Lift one foot and press your foot against the inside of your other leg. You can use your hand to place your foot anywhere between your ankle and inner thigh. Avoid the knee joint. As your balance gets stronger, you’ll be able to raise your foot higher up your leg. Bring your hands to your chest, palms together in Namaste position. Then raise your arms up above your head. Stretch them out wide, like the branches of a tree. Separate your fingers. Balance and breathe. Now repeat on the other side.

Lake Clark (Alaska)

Bubble FishThere’s so much salmon in the water, sometimes the water looks red!

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bring the bottoms of your feet together and open your knees outward. Press your feet together and flop your legs up and down. Slide your hands, palms down, underneath your backside. Squeeze your shoulders together. Arch your back as your chest lifts off the floor. Place the top of your head on the floor. Feel your gills open and close as you breathe. Make fish lips and blow bubbles. Imagine you have gills instead of lungs.

Mesa Verde (Colorado)

Ladder to the Clouds – There are stone cities here that have been empty for 700 years!

Stand tall. Reach up and begin to climb a very tall, imaginary ladder. Reach with your right arm while bending your left leg. Then reach with your left arm while bending your right leg. Keep climbing higher and higher. Climb all the way to the clouds and beyond.

North Cascades (Washington state)

Bunny Breath – This is the home of half of the glaciers in the lower 48 states. The snow shoe rabbit gets its name from its thick padded paws allowing it to walk on snow!

Get comfortable in a seated pose. Make your neck and back as long as you can, tucking in your chin slightly and letting your lower jaw relax. Take short, quick breaths in through your nose. Twitch your nose like a bunny. Then breathe out through your mouth with a long, smooth sigh. Repeat. Increase the number of inhalations and double the length of your exhalations as your breath power gets stronger.

Olympic (Washington state)

Raindrops (Finger Dancing) – Here it rains 12-14 feet a year!

Sit on your heels or cross-legged. Begin at the top of your head and gently stimulate your hair and skin by lightly dancing your fingers all the way down your body. Allow the self-touch to feel good, as it wakes you up, stimulates your skin and lymph system and makes you feel alive. Do this technique along with Salutations to Me. Each time you touch a part of your body say a silent affirmation or kind statement to that place: toes; skull, hair, face, ears, neck, throat, chest, breasts, belly, butt, legs, arms, feet, etc.

Petrified Forest (Arizona)

Lizard – The trees here turn into rocks! Let’s play on the rocks like lizards!

Lie on your belly. Place your hands under your shoulders. Spread your fingers out like lizard claws. Bend your lizard toes forward. Push up until your arms and legs are straight in Plank Pose. Draw your shoulders back and away from your ears. Walk like a lizard, slowly and carefully.

Queens Chamber (New Mexico)

Bat (Butterfly with Antennae) – This place has 700 feet deep caves!

Begin in L-Sitting pose. Bring the bottoms of your feet together, with your heels close to your body and your knees out to each side. Stretch your neck and the top of your head toward the sky and make your spine longer. Place your hands at the sides of your head and stick up your pointer fingers to make antennae. Pull your arms back like they’re your wings. Breathe in and out as you flap your wings forward and back, up and down.

Rocky Mountain (Colorado)

Big Horn Sheep (Lunges) – The symbol of the park is: big horn sheep!

Begin in Down Diggety Doggie Down. Step one foot forward into a lunge and place your hands on either side of that foot. Put your hands onto your upper thigh, above the knee. Breathe in and lift your chest. Breathe out and move your lower body toward the floor. Place your hands back down on the floor and step your foot back. Transform to Down Diggety Doggy Down and repeat on the other side.

Smoky Mountains (North Carolina and Tennessee)

Deer The smokey haze over the park are the vapors given off the  plants and mixing with the warm gulf air!

Sit on your heels. Drop your hips to the left. Cross your right foot over your knee and place it on the ground next to the outside of your left thigh. Your right knee is up. Slide your left foot to the outside of the right hip. Place your hands on either side to support yourself as you lift your chest, lengthen your spine, and twist slightly. Turn your head from side to side. Open your eyes wide like an alert deer. Then switch sides by reversing your legs.

Grand Teton (Wyoming)

Mountain – Rocky mountains are a beautiful jagged wall of granite!

Stand with your feet together or hip-width apart, whichever is most comfortable. Arms are at your sides, fingers stretching towards the floor. Press your feet into the ground. This downward action through the legs allows the torso, neck, and head to rise like a mountain above the clouds. Notice how tall and light you feel.

Upheaval Dome (Utah)

Comet (Swinging Pretzel – There’s a big hole in the ground caused by a meteorite, such as an asteroid or a comet, that originates in outer space and survives its impact with the Earth’s surface!

Sit cross-legged. Place your left ankle and foot high up on your right thigh.Place your right ankle and foot high up on your left thigh. Spread your fingers on the floor just behind your knees. Lift your bottom and legs up off the floor. With strong arms and breathing, swing your pretzel back and forth. Be sure to switch legs so that each gets a turn on top.

Virgin Islands

Jabberwocky Jellyfish or Squid – Explore the nature trail for snorkelers with buoys leading the way!

Sit on your left hip with your left thigh parallel to the front of your mat and your left shin aligned with the side of your mat. Your leg is in the form of a right angle. Twist in the direction of your knees and come forward onto your elbows. Let your upper body come all the way down. Move your fingers and toes as you feel your body moving through the water like a squid. Can you speak Jabberwocky like Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland? Make up some jellyfish jibberish.

Wind Cave (South Dakota)

Tunnels (Down Diggety Doggie Down) – This place has over 100 miles of narrow tunnels!

Begin in All Fours pose. Bend your toes forward. Spread your fingers wide. Press your doggy paws and heels downward as you lift your hips and tail to the sky. Lengthen your spine. Stretch your arms and legs as long as possible. Let your head hang down. Growl, yawn, bark, and make other doggy sounds. Bend your knee and rotate your belly and chest upward as you raise one leg up and “mark your territory.” Lift your opposite leg too. Be sure to keep your hands pressing downward and your arms straight.

Teddy Roosevelt –x Trail

Moo and Meow – This is named after the “x” brand of the X Ranch!

Begin in All Fours Pose. Line up your wrists under your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and arch your spine to the sky. Loosen your neck and drop your head down. Breathe out long as you meow. Now lift your chest forward and look up with big cow eyes. Dip your belly down and tilt your sitting bones up. Your back will sink down like a cow’s. Make cow lips and moo deeply from the back of your throat. Go back and forth, meowing and mooing.

Yellowstone

Spouting Dolphin Yellowstone has the world’s largest collection of geysers – water seeps down, comes into contact with hot earth and erupts!

Begin in All Fours pose. Lower your elbows to the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips. Grasp your elbows with the opposite fingers to keep proper spacing. Move your lower arms forward, interlacing your fingers, and make a triangle. Breathe in and out, letting your spine lengthen and your tailbone lift up and back. Work your legs as you press your heels towards the floor. Breathe in and out. Move your body forward so your chin touches down in front of your fingers. Then breathe out and lift out of the water.

Zion (Utah)

Talking Turtle – Zion means a safe place away from the world! Let’s feel safe in our turtle shells.

Begin in L-Sitting pose. Open your legs wide. Flex your feet and lift your knees. Place your hands on the floor inside your legs. Spread your fingers wide. Slide your hands and arms under your knees, as far away from each other as possible. Bend forward at the hips and lengthen your chest along the floor. Lift your head and look from side to side. Say “hello” as you stretch your arms and legs as far out as you can. Now, tuck in your chin and retreat retreated into your shell. Pull all of your senses inward and rest. Stay in your shell as you breathe in and out. Repeat.

VISUAL VIGNETTES

Have the children color a firefly coloring page.

QUIET QUESTS  (play music with night sounds or crickets)

Going on a Journey – Have the children camp out — i.e. have the kids roll up in their mats in Enchilada pose like sleeping bags.

Imagine you are camping out in your favorite national park with you family or special friends. You are warm and cozy in your sleeping bag. You hear the sound of crickets outside. (pause) An owl softly says, “ whoo, whoo”  (pause) You are tired from a long day of hiking, canoeing, and playing in this beautiful park. Your eyes float closed and you begin to hear the sweet sound of your own breath. (pause) You feel your belly float up and down… up and down. (pause for 2-3 minutes) As the sun rises slowly in the sky, it is time to wake up for another beautiful day in the park. Wiggle your fingers and your toes (pause). And slowly float your eyes open and come to sitting.

CLOSING CIRCLE

Circle of Friendship Flowers

Kneel in a circle, holding hands. As you inhale, reach your arms up, lift your buttocks off your heels, and stretch back arching your back and neck. As you exhale, continue to hold hands and fold down into Child’s Pose. Repeat a few times imagining all the different flowers that you could be.

 

 

Lunges

Lunge PoseInstructions

  1. Begin in Down Diggety Doggie Down. Step one foot forward into a lunge and place your hands on either side of that foot.
  2. Put your hands onto your upper thigh, above the knee.
  3. Breathe in and lift your chest. Breathe out and move your lower body toward the floor.
  4. Place your hands back down on the floor and step your foot back.
  5. Transform to Down Diggety Doggy Down and repeat on the other side. (Anjaneyasana)

 

Activity Ideas for Home or Classroom

Body Benefits
Strengthens legs, opens the hips, stretches the ankles and works the muscles of the feet. Add the Lunge pose to a Sun Salutation for many more body benefits!

 

Kite

illustration of a kite with a cloud and rainbow

Instructions

  1. Begin in Mountain pose.
  2. Come onto your tippy toes and stretch your arms up and out to the side like tree arms. Lean to one side and stretch a leg out to the other side.
  3. Change sides.
  4. Play with your balance as you find your way and move with the wind. Feel your body flying like a kite.

 

Activity Ideas for Home or Classroom

Body Benefits
Strengthens legs, core and feet. Improves balance and concentration.

Visual Vignettes
Create your own kites!

S is for Snake

S is for Snake Pose

A snake’s tongue is a radar detector. It can taste and smell, seek out friends and detect enemies. Stick out your tongue. Follow your senses. What do you sense in the air?

Pose Instructions

  1. Lie on your belly. Gently squeeze your legs together. Make your body long and strong like a snake.
  2. Place your hands under your shoulders.
  3. Inhale. Pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Lift your chest higher and higher. Slither out of your skin and lower back.
  4. Exhale as you hiss the “s” sound of the snake. Sssssss. Stick out your tongue. Flick it.
  5. Rest.
  6. Inhale. Snake up again.
  7. Do the snake as many times as you want too.

Activity Ideas for Home or Classroom

We All Win
Make it a partner pose by doing the Snake Charmer pose together! The snake charmer squats in front of the snake and plays the flute. The charmer charms the snake to move up and down, side to side, high, low and any ways she wants the snake to go. The snake pays close attention to the charmer. The snake  listens carefully with her tongue and follows directions with the eyes and body. The charmer guides the  snake back onto the belly. Be sure to have the children take turns in each role!

Snake Charmers Pose

Ecological Ethics
The mysterious and exotic ways of snake charmers throughout Asia have fascinated imaginations for centuries. To work with a cobra, they remove their poison glands so their bites become harmless. Is it OK to rob the cobra of its venom which is necessary for survival in order to put him in charm school? What do you think?

Mommy and Me
With infants and toddlers, let them lie on your back to have some herpetologic fun. (Herpetology is the study of snakes and other reptiles).They’ll giggle and enjoy the snake ride as you lift your spine up and down, side to side with them lying on your spine. Slither across the floor with them holding onto your shoulders then coil around them and cuddle to finish your serpentine sojourn.

Body Benefits
Practicing this pose will keep the spine and lower back flexible. Doing it the YogaKids way also exercises the tongue and opens the throat. When your snake is charmed, he is learning to follow non-verbal directions and enhance eye/brain/body coordination. Now that’s a sssspecial ssskill.

Ecological Echoes
Snakes have poor hearing. They don’t have outer ears like we do, but their inner ear is well tuned. Their slithering movements on the earth help them ‘hear’ through the ground. They are sensitive to vibrations of which most people are completely unaware.

Laughing Language
Make up tongue twisters. Use an “s” location in each one, anything from Saturn to supermarkets to Singapore. How many “s” places can you name? Here’s a few to get you started: “Super snails shovel slowly seeking Spain.”

Back to School: Easing the Transition

Back to School graphic

It’s hard to think about ‘Back To School’ when we are in the middle of sunscreen, bathing suits, popsicles and cookouts. But before we know it, the fall will be upon us bringing a new school year. This is a big transition in the life of a child and we, as YogaKids teachers, need to be cognizant of this when preparing our lesson plans.

When classes begin in the fall, it is the perfect opportunity to set the tone for the whole year. Here are some tips to keep in mind when getting started with a new group of children.

  •       Start Your Class the Same Way Each Week (especially in the beginning!)

Routine helps children feel more comfortable and secure. In addition, by setting the stage for what to expect, a teacher can guide positive behavior and reduce power struggles.

  •       Use the YogaKids Pledge

The Pledge is a powerful tool. It explains in a fun, interactive way the benefits of yoga while also setting the ground rules for the class. The Pledge can always be used in reference when managing classroom behavioral issues. In addition, it is an easy and fun way to get children talking and moving right away. This will show them from the beginning that yoga is fun!

  •       Keep the Kids Engaged

Kids want to move in yoga. They have plenty of time in the day to sit during their other classes. Get them moving right away!  It’s great to incorporate breath work and discussions/shares, but be sure to get them up and down several times during the class. Keep them active and they will certainly stay engaged.

  •       Teach the Basics

Kids need time to get in the groove, learn routines, and get comfortable with yoga. Break down sequences you plan to use regularly in your classes. Take the time to teach a Sun Salutation pose by pose for kids, therefore establishing good habits. Teach songs you plan to use often slowly, so they feel pride and ownership in their classes. Take the time to explain why yoga is good, where it came from, and all the benefits they will see in their lives. Allow them an opportunity to be excited by yoga.

  •       Exude Enthusiasm!

The beginning of the school year can be a time of anxiety for children, but it is also fun and exciting! Be the vessel that shares the excitement and happiness of yoga. Show the kids from day one that yoga is a place of exploration, journeys, silly times, fun songs, and a perfect place to just lay down and relax.

To all the teachers out there…enjoy the last days of summer and I wish you an easy transition into fall!

Namaste!

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