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Elementary age kids can be a loud and rowdy bunch.
I never envisioned myself as a teacher, let alone one in a classroom of unruly, wild, and overactive children.
Now here I am trying to teach them how to be calm by using yoga.
The kindergarteners are tough… but for me, the hardest grades to teach yoga to are third and fourth.
They are active, bigger, more used to challenging authority and also tend to be more interested in social interactions than learning. *EYE ROLL*
So how do you teach yoga to these kinds of kids?
How do you teach kids to be calm and mindful when all they want to do is shout and talk and run around playing soccer with anything that might roll?
After four years of struggling with this very issue, I have finally found some miraculous fixes to the wild and active classes.
The best way to start is by making sure you have a good relationship with the kids. Let them know you care about them, get to know them, ask them about their lives and share about yours.
Tell them why yoga is important to YOU. What brought you here? What motivates you?
One of the next most important things is to learn how to manage classroom behavior. If you want details, read this post here!
Most importantly, you need to be able to meet the class at their energetic level. You need to have yoga poses, games and activities that match their
You want to show them that you understand their needs… this is accomplished when you teach them engaging content in a way that keeps them involved.
Tips for kids yoga class activities
Do a call and response sequence (Yoga Flow) as a whole group
With my chattiest classes, I started doing our warm-up Yoga Flow (sun salutation plus more poses added on) with a call and response. I say the pose name, and they repeat it out loud while we all did the movements together. This helps them for many reasons:
- They have to use their voice for a purpose instead of interrupting me
- They learn the names of the poses quickly
- We all move and get warmed up right away
- I introduce new and challenging poses in the middle or near the end to keep them interested and motivated
- The routine of coming in and starting almost immediately with the same thing is comforting and keeps them from getting distracted by other things
- It keeps them accountable because it’s much easier to notice who isn’t following along when we flow together in a sun salutation for several minutes
- They are generally quite tired after an 8-10 minute flow and are able to do some breathing activities to calm down. Then they can listen to directions better.
Seriously, the call and response thing was an absolute savior. I started it almost on a whim and the first few times were a little awkward, but still so much better than what I’d tried before. I gave the directions to repeat the pose name after me, and copy the moves I do.
By making it rhythmic, it felt like a dance. That was enticing, too.
To make it super successful, I just kept reminding them:
- only say the pose name, not anything else
- use your breath instead if you get tired
- only say the pose names if you are actually doing the poses
Get the 22 kids yoga poses I use in the Yoga Flow here!
22 brand new digital images, pose descriptions, tips on how to teach a Yoga Flow and MORE.
Play some games!
Active kids tend to be a bit more competitive. Aside from playing games, utilize this by giving “shout outs” to kids who are working hard and continuing to try and participate.
Circle games are great, and so many games can be modified to fit yoga poses:
- Museum (directions in the link above!)
- Yogi Says
- Strike a pose! Like freeze dance, but when you stop the music, tell them a pose, or an idea for a pose (A water animal! A type of bird! A balance!)
- Yoga Memory
- Yoga Dice game (grab your copy below!)
- Red light, yellow light, green light (red light is a pose, yellow light is slow motion, green is go)
Check out this posts on other games that I use with these age groups as well:
Let kids partner up and create some poses together! This gives them more opportunity to socialize and chat with one another if the group is very talkative.
This pack of yoga cards, Yoga Pretzels, has the BEST partner poses. The double boat pose is a good one, seesaw (wide legged forward fold reaching towards each other), and resting rock (child’s pose and seated backbend) are some favorites.
They can also make up their own partner poses! This gives them a great chance to be creative, expressive, and show off new ideas. Make sure you set up expectations for how many feet have to be on the floor, and whether or not they can hold each up… etc. Set clear parameters first!
Help them create a yoga sequence routine, and video it.
Some of my students got way motivated to do yoga when I told them the poses could be ordered like a dance or gymnastics routine. It’s like they suddenly thought it was way cooler.
They used a deck of cards, lined up about 15, and counted to 5 for each pose so they were matching each other perfectly. It turned out super cute and I sent the video to their parents, which they LOVED.
Be consistent with your class outline!
Seriously. Pick a routine, pick some rules, and stick to them. Plan for more than you need, but stick to a general outline so kids know what to expect.
When they lead active and overstimulating lives, kids need routine and they need consistency, especially when you are trying to help them find calm.
My class plan for 45 minute third and fourth-grade classes looks like this:
- High fives upon entering the class
- Every student walks right to their circle spot
- A quick greeting and possible asses the energy
- One leader calls out “P.E.” style warm-ups that we all do together for 3-5 min
- 1 minute of breathing
- Yoga Flow for 5-7 minutes call and response style
- Choice time activities (they pick one to do for 10 min):
- Clean up
- Savasana, or resting pose
It took me three and a half years to figure this out, but I am finally feeling really good about the classes and the structure. The kids get lots of movement time, and also a good amount of free choice time and relaxing.
We have fun and are very productive!
Let me know if this helps you in teaching your active and energetic classes. Good luck!
Don’t forget to get your pose images for the Kids Yoga Flow here: