Friday, November 7, 2014

Poetry with a Purpose: Mindfulness

Poetry can serve many purposes, and this week I was excited to share with my students a little bit about how poetry can be used to help our moods and feelings. One of my students agreed to share with the class a little bit about Thich Nhat Hahn's Pebble Meditation and poem.

A flower feels fresh.
A mountain feels solid.
Space feels calm.
Still water reflects.

We opened with a class conversation about meditation and mindfulness, and I was delighted that several students were able to share their experiences and background knowledge. Next, we read aloud the version of the poem above and talked a little about the images and feelings it conveyed.

Finally, my expert-in-residence student shared a little bit about how she uses the poem, four pebbles, and breathing exercises to help her meditate and restore her focus. The students were really interested in her description, so I grabbed a bag of mancala pebble pieces, and we all tried it together. For each pebble, you focus on one line of the poem, for example, breathing in thinking flower and breathing out thinking fresh.

This exercise gave us a such a quiet and peaceful way to move into our next activity. I think this is definitely an exercise we will come back to, particularly as we work on transitions and focus.

Two of my students were so inspired by the activity that they decided to write their own relaxing poem during Poetry Friday work time.

The Relaxing Poem

Wind is blowing
       Skies are blue.
You see me.
       I see you.
Trees are green.
       The water is blue.
We are friends. We like it that way, and it shall be that way.

Isn't that lovely?

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is being curated by Diane at Random Noodling. See the whole list of hosts at Poetry Friday by Kitlitosphere. This post is also linked up at Social Media Sunday, hosted by the IBA.


  1. "We like it that way, and it shall be that way." Perfect.

    I'm interested in how you've introduced mindfulness to third graders. Most third graders I've come across don't even understand what it means to merely "stop talking." I hope you'll share more.

    1. Thanks for your interest, Diane. We really didn't spend too much time on it, and I let my student lead the discussion, as she and her mother were the ones who introduced me to the poem and the practice. I will be curious to see how our conversations grow from here, and I will be sure to share!

  2. That's terrific -- the poem, the fact that the student introduced it, the pebbles, the practice! I think young people can totally understand that sort of thing, if it is introduced the right way/at the right time. So valuable for them to know.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Tabatha! I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of impact this has in our classroom for sure.

  3. Wow! I love that this all came from one of your students and you merely followed, nudged, and improvised. Amazing what kids can do.

    1. Thanks so much, Mary Lee! Following their lead is one of my favorite things about teaching third grade.

  4. What a treat for your classroom! And I also think it's pretty telling how well the students responded to it. Love "The Relaxing Poem"-- so lovely and "zen."

    1. Thanks, Michelle! It was amazing to me that they came up with their poem completely on their own and it just echoes the big ideas so well.


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