Mind Up: Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning and Living
ash black & Shannon Gomez, Second Grade Teachers
Second graders started to build their mindfulness skills and awareness by learning about the brain and getting in touch with their bodies.
As part of our yearlong exploration of what scientists do, second graders studied how the brain works and how it helps them every day.
They did this by first learning about the three parts of the brain that help them think and respond to stress. Then, through song, movement, and partner exercises, they grew to understand the parts of the brain that help them make good choices (prefrontal cortex), keep us safe (amygdala), and the part that saves our memories (hippocampus).
After learning about the three parts of the brain, the students were curious about how we could grow and strengthen these parts. This led us to explore mindful awareness by first listening to the sounds around us and reflecting on how it felt to listen deeply. The students shared that they felt calm in their bodies and noticed their breathing slowing down. We discussed how all three parts were working together during the listening exercise and that being able to listen so well was an example of being mindful.
Throughout the week, students shared examples of mindful and unmindful scenarios and then created a personal model of a time that their brains helped them be mindful in school.
The unit ended with a lesson on focused awareness, where we took our listening exercise to the next level by adding in focused breathing. Again, students were asked to sit comfortably and pay attention to their breathing. Then, as we played a resonant sound, we asked the students to listen as long as possible until the sound disappeared. After the exercise, students shared how focused breathing increased their ability to follow the sound. Finally, we ended the lesson by using colors to show how it felt before, during, and after mindful listening and breathing.
Throughout the school year, we will continue to learn about mindfulness through sharpening our senses, developing a growth mindset, expressing gratitude, and finding ways to take mindful action in the world!
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