This week I decided to implement an idea that I thought of some time ago. Now that I have an LCD projector and document camera I have so many possibilities for presentations. Anyway, I decided to try to elicit positive emotions using humor and "awe" to help my students transition from the sometimes stressful time of recess.
As they came back from recess, I let the kids know that I was going to show them a few pictures that would make them smile, laugh or think,"wow!" I was delighted to hear their shrieks of laughter as I showed them photos ( sent to me in various emails from friends) of amazing animals in nature. As we viewed a picture of a fish being carried away by a "big" bird, I asked the kids to share what that fish would be saying if it could talk. I then asked them what the bird might be saying. Their answers were creative, sometimes silly, and definitely those of kids who were engaged in the conversation. I decided that this ritual of "after-recess" viewing, which took only 5 minutes of our day, was definitely worth it. After the photo viewing, we took a minute of "silence" where the students closed their eyes, thought of a beautiful scene/place and breathed slowly in and out. I told them that it was important to relax and focus their minds in order to get the most learning in a day.
As we moved on to the next part of our day, I noticed that the mood was upbeat and calm. A relaxed state of alertness certainly improved the learning environment. There were no tattling tales of kids hitting each other or saying they wouldn't be friends any longer. Students transitioned to the following learning activity with an excitement about learning. Mission accomplished!