Ms. Amanda: Mindfulness and Sensory Integration

Note from Jamie: Amanda’s workshop for VATN was so fantastic, I found myself wanting to participate and hang onto her every word, and I missed a lot of juicy details in my notes.  In the next few weeks, I hope to have a more in-depth conversation with Ms. Amanda about the topics below.  In the meantime, I hyperlinked in some articles and resources that relate to the workshop’s content.

A special thank you to Amanda for leading our “Optimistic Closing” at our recent day of PD.  We grounded ourselves by passing around seeds, evergreen branches and other manipulatives as a way to engage our sense of touch in our relaxation and reflection.

Session Date: 1/10/18

Location: Community United Elementary School (CUES)

Teachers Present: Amanda (CUES), Amber (Chabot Elementary), Deborah Gordon (Art Teacher), Shanti (prospective art teacher), Roxanne (MOCHA), Kristen (Grass Valley Elementary), Michelle (Glenwood), Mara (Redwood Heights), Phil Rydeen (OUSD VAPA Director)

The space: Large classroom, originally made for drama.  Ms. Eicher uses stage for circle time.

Key Strategies: Teaching Artistic Behavior through Choice (TAB Choice).

Today’s Focus: Mindfulness and sensory integration, and working on integrating restorative justice (inspired by art therapist Eleanor Ruckman: Art and Nature and Sensory Regulation).

“At first, it can be awkward to introduce mindfulness in class, but if you stick with it, students will eventually be able to teach each other and adults how to use mindfulness.”

Mindfulness/Movement/Breathing Tools in the CUES Art Room:

Sensory Integration Tools in the Art Room

  • Roll it and throw it
  • Smell the flower, blow out the candle
  • Brain Dance
  • Imaginary Walks
  • Thinking cap
  • Five Finger Breathing
  • Flying Breaths; Tree Breaths
  • Magic Hands, Conductor Hands

50 minute classes:

20 minutes is spent coming into room, circling up, talking about what we’re going to do. Then, only 20 minutes is spent on work time, then cleanup.

Mindfulness is as useful for the teacher as it is for the student.

Regulation and Dis-regulation of behavior

Having something to touch and explore can help us keep our ideas in our head.  Example: A plant you can hold and gently touch.

Carpet Drawing: Practicing art skills (line, shape, texture) by drawing lines on the carpet

“Kids who grow up having traumatic experiences don’t always develop the bilateral connection in the brain” — in regard to the value of  using both the right and left hand in art movement and breathing exercises. (Drawing a spiral in the air with both hands)”

Bilateral scribbling example

Bilateral scribbling

Marker Wars

  • 2 people drawing on the same paper
  • The goal is to get past the other person on the paper
  • A great way to get extra energy out!

“It’s not really about drawing, it’s about body regulation”






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