Time icon
Level icon
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Time

Variable, as needed

Level

Primary / Junior

Material

Straws, baggies, Styrofoam pieces, clean recycled items as appropriate, bottles

Purpose

To encourage students to engage in deep breathing using a fun technique

  • Select a container where a straw can be inserted and sealed, and items will move easily. Discuss the concept of deep breathing and why it’s done. (See “Deep belly breathing” practice.)
  • Encourage students to breathe deeply through the straw (in from the room, then out into the bag). Repeat eight to ten times. Ask students to reflect on how they feel following the exercise.
  • Co-create a list of affirmations, inspiring Bible passages, or spiritual words from Saints (e.g., “Love one another,” or “Do good anyway”).
  • Students can say the word(s) in their minds as they inhale and exhale with each breath (e.g., “I am brave!” (inhale) and “I am loved.” (exhale)).
  • Other items could be placed in the baggie/box to change the experience (e.g., feathers, glitter, tissue paper), or you could use a bottle or jar instead of a bag. It can be part of a calming box or calming space (See “Calming box” and “Calming spaces/havens” practices). NOTE: When selecting items for the baggie/box, consider the age and the skill set of the student to ensure safety.
  • Energy may be high when introducing this practice; however, over time it should create a sense of calm. This can be a group activity, or students can use it individually to calm down.
  • Other variations might include using different materials to engage in daily breathing techniques individually or as a group. For example, a pompom and straw make great breathing tools.
    • With playdough, roll a long snake-like strand and create a maze on a table or desk. Place a pompom at one end of the maze, student inhales through the straw and exhales moving the pompom through the maze. Intentional, thoughtful breaths are taken in and out as the pompom travels through the maze.

Taking time to mindfully breathe and attend to internal states helps students manage emotions that arise in the classroom (Felver, Celis-de Hoyos, Tezanos, & Singh, 2016), so they can effectively regulate emotions, and refocus their attention on learning (Blair & Diamond, 2008).

Blair, C., & Diamond, A. (2008). Biological processes in prevention and intervention: The promotion of self-regulation as a means of preventing school failure. Development and Psychopathology, 20(3), 899-911. doi:10.1017/S0954579408000436

Felver, J. C., Celis-de Hoyos, C. E., Tezanos, K., & Singh, N. N. (2016). A Systematic Review of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Youth in School Settings. Mindfulness, 7(1), 34-45. doi:10.1007/s12671-015-0389-4