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Ready for a free kid’s yoga lesson plan based on the book, The Giving Tree?
It’s an excellent lesson plan for anyone wanting to teach kids about generosity, friendship, and compassion. Scroll down for the lesson plan in the post.
If you’ve never read The Giving Tree, it’s a very sweet book written by Shel Silverstein about a young boy who is friends with a tree and grows up under her watchful eye.
It’s quite touching, heartwarming, and even a bit sad for those of us that having aging family members and are experiencing hardship in our adult lives.
The boy goes through ups and downs, and often when he’s down, he visits his old friend the tree. She helps him out by selflessly giving away everything she has to make his life better.
The first time I used this book in a kid’s yoga class, I honestly didn’t know how it would go.
I was in my first year of teaching yoga and mindfulness full time at an elementary school. I had just discovered the fun of using real books for teaching kids yoga lessons, and I picked out The Giving Tree, thinking we could at least do Tree Pose a few times during the lesson plan.
It turned out that the lesson worked really nicely and I was able to add in a lot more poses than I expected!
I had the kids do Tree Pose several times, of course, and we also did Toe Stand for the little boy. Then there was Woodchopper Pose, Waterfall Pose, Frog Pose, and Boat Pose.
*Free Download at the bottom of the post!*
Use this lesson plan to teach kids about compassion and friendship
Aside from being able to add in yoga poses while we read the story, it became apparent to me that there are some really good lessons on compassion, kindness, and friendship in this story as well. These are great topics for discussing with kids of all ages.
The Giving Tree is a selfless tree that does not expect anything from the boy when she shows her kindness and compassion towards him. She gives and gives, and is happy to have his companionship and friendship. She is happy when he is and when they are in company together.
This is an important lesson to teach young children. Being kind and selfless are skills that come with practice.
Before reading the book to your students or kids, it is important to prompt them to think about what friendship means to them, and even what it means to be compassionate or kind.
Some older kids will understand random acts of kindness and they may have personal examples of selflessness that they can share with others.
It’s always good to let them share real-life experiences so that they can better relate to the story and lesson.
The Giving Tree Yoga Lesson Plan for Kids
If you are ready to see all the full-size pose images, plus get two meditation scripts, a writing activity, and a friendship craft, check out the full lesson plan here.
For a free download of the overview of The Giving Tree lesson plan and description of the yoga poses, keep reading!
Overview of the Giving Tree Lesson Plan for Kids Yoga Classes
Introduce yourself to the class, or greet them if you already know them. Keep this short, consistent, and loving.
Let them know you will be reading a book about a friendship between a tree and a boy. Give them a moment to ground in with a singing bowl mindful moment and thoughts of a good friend.
The goal is to get kids moving and loosened up. If they need more vigorous warm ups, you can do “P.E.” style warm-ups, or you can integrate full body and breath movement with a Yoga Flow sequence.
Settle minds and bodies with a few deep cleansing breaths. This also helps get their brains ready for thinking. Pretend to be a tree and make breeze swishy sounds as you exhale. Or, use one of these breathing exercises as a warm-up.
This is to get kids to have something to think about before the lesson. It’s important to prep their brains for the topic at hand, and give them a chance to contribute what they know about the topic before you start.
Introduction to the Story:
Give them just enough information about the story, and also give them directions for how to listen, move, and participate with their bodies and brains. Prep them with a thinking job or a question to have in their mind as they listen: What does it mean to be “giving”? What does it look like to be a good friend?
Read or tell the story, while giving the kids a chance to try out poses. Either do the poses with them or let them look at pose cards. Try to hold each pose for at least three breaths.
Give the kids a chance to rest and relax their bodies while you talk them through a guided imagery meditation. Use a loving-kindness meditation, or imagery of a comforting green forest to rest in.
Use what you learned from the story lesson to expand your thinking. Kids get to write or draw their ideas or answers to a question based on the lesson.
Can you write a nice letter to a friend or a family member? Make a Friendship Keeper (fortune teller) with random acts of kindness you can do to show your compassion and generosity.
Yoga Poses to Go with the Giving Tree Lesson Plan
Some yoga pose images are included below, but you can get all of the full-size images, plus a sequence cheat sheet in my full kid’s yoga lesson plan here.
Check out the video of me teaching The Giving Tree story lesson plan to my yoga students during the COVID-19 pandemic here:
The Giving Tree – TREE POSE: Stand tall on one foot. Start with your hands at your heart, and grow your branches up to the sky. Sway with them side to side. Lean forward as if you are about to reach for the boy and say hello.
The Boy – RUN IN PLACE: Imagine you are the boy, and run in place to greet the tree. Give her a big hug.
Gather Leaves – REACH UP HIGH: Stand on your tippy toes and pretend to gather leaves. Reach one hand up, then the other. Option to place them down low in a basket.
Gather Leaves – WATERFALL: Imagine the leaves are falling around you, gaze upward and spin in a circle.
Make a Crown – TADASANA: Pretend to put a crown of leaves on your head. Stand tall and proud.
Climb the Tree – MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: Pretend to climb up the tree by reaching your hands high and climbing with opposite hand and foot up an imaginary tree.
Hold on to the Tree – EAGLE POSE: Wrap your arms up around you with your elbows and palms, then wrap one leg up and over the other to hold onto the imaginary tree trunk. Balance. Make sure to do the other side.
Swing from the Branches – WOODCHOPPER: Clasp your hands together above your head and step your feet wide apart. Swing your arms and upper body down and from side to side like you are swinging from tree branches. Gently bend your knees as you sway.
Eat Apples – JACK IN THE BOX: Sit on your bottom with your knees into your chest and your arms wrapped around your shins. Tuck your head down to make yourself round like an apple. Roll back and forth if you like!
Play Hide and Seek – FROG POSE: Crouch down with your arms between your knees and your feet flat. Tuck your head down to pretend to hide.
Rest by the Tree – SEATED FORWARD FOLD: Sit on your bottom with your legs out straight as if you are leaning gently against the tree. Start to snooze and lean gently forward, rounding your head and torso forward.
Growing Boy – TOE STAND: Squat down with your knees together and heels lifted. Lift your arms to shoulder height then above your head as you slowly grow taller and taller.
Gather Apples – JACK IN THE BOX: Sit on your bottom again with your knees in like an apple. Rock and roll back and forth like apples falling from a tree.
Gather Apples – PEACOCK POSE: Sit on the floor with your feet out wide, legs straight. Open your arms out nice and round as well to pretend you are carrying a big round basket of apples.
Make a House – WOODCHOPPER: Stand tall with your feet wide apart. Press your palms together above your head to make a tall house shape.
Carry Branches – CRESCENT LUNGE: Stand with feet hip-width distance, then step one foot straight back a few feet. Balance your back foot up on your toes. Reach your arms up high as if you are carrying branches. Lean forward slightly like they are resting on your back.
Chop Down the Truck – WOODCHOPPER: Stand tall with your feet wide apart. Hold your hands together above your head, then swing them down, letting your torso follow as if you are chopping a trunk. Exhale with each swing down and gently bend your knees.
Make a Boat – BOAT POSE: Sit on your bottom with your knees bent. Gently pick up one foot, then the other, reaching your arms out in front of you. Balance like a boat with your spine long and straight.
Sit and Rest a While – TABLETOP: Kneel on your hands and knees with your spine straight. Take a few deep breaths and imagine supporting a friend with your strong back.
Savasana: Lay and rest and envision a tall, strong tree shading you.