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5-10 minutes


Primary / Junior / Intermediate




To build a regular practice that helps students focus their attention, calm feelings of anxiety, and manage stress

  • Practice these steps ahead of implementing them with students.
  • You can do one or all of these stretches as needed.
  • Remind students to keep breathing. Model these actions as you go through your instructions. 
Side stretch
  • Stand up straight and tall with shoulders relaxed. Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.
  • Now breathe silently. Bring your palms together above your head and stretch them as high as you can. Relax your shoulders as you breathe out. Keeping your arms stretched high, breathe in and gently lean to one side, from your hips.
  • On your next breath out, stretch a little bit further. Breathe in and out as you center yourself. Breathe in and tilt from your hips to the other side.
  • On your next breath out, lean a little further, then centre yourself again.
  • Shape your hands into fists and place them on your hips. Breathe in and stand tall, shoulders relaxed. Now twist from your waist to one side, as you breathe out.
  • Take another breath and then twist a little further as you breathe out. Breathe in as you come back to the center. Breathe out and twist a little further from your waist to the other side.  As you breathe in, come back to the center.
  • Bring your hands to your heart. Notice if you feel a little more relaxed or  strong.
Tree stretch
  • Stand tall, stretch your arms up and away from your sides as far as feels comfortable, and relax your elbows and shoulders. Shift your weight onto your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Gently place the sole of your left foot against the inside of your right leg, avoiding your knee. For balance, focus your eyes on the floor or keep your arms at your side instead of raising them.
  • Imagine you are a tree, and you are growing arm branches out towards the sun.
  • Bring your left leg down and repeat with the right leg.
  • Stretching can be modified to suit your students’ developmental level. Keep adapted activities on hand to suit the needs of students who have mobility challenges.
  • A simple mantra or intention can be useful to guide the practice, mentioned at the beginning, end or throughout the process of stretching.

Students who engage in physical activity and/or breathing exercises during the school day are able to focus, and maintain attention throughout the day, as these tasks stimulate executive functions, and allow students to regulate emotions experienced in the classroom (Diamond & Lee, 2011).

Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old. Science, 333 (6045), 959-964.