Written by Mariann Primus
Tricks of the trade often come when our perspective changes. I think I learned nearly as many valuable tricks of the trade during my three years as a children’s yoga teacher as I did during my sixteen-year ESE teaching career. Sometimes we are too close to the problem to be able to see a solution clearly. Add in stress, overwhelm, and frustration and things can look even cloudier. While teaching, I had several moments when I couldn’t believe how long it took me to do “the obvious” to solve a problem, from locking a closet door ( I was new to the school and didn’t realize my classroom key locked the storage closet door that an ESE student kept getting into) to turning a shelf around to limit distractions. OK, these were very simple and obvious solutions and sometimes the solutions aren’t so obvious but can still be pretty simple.
I was on the phone with a dear friend of mine recently and she was lamenting over her Kindergarteners who were struggling to stay in an area during floor instruction time, like circle time or story time. She had a big carpet that all the students could sit on with colors and shapes on it but it wasn’t solving the problem. I recalled a particular rambunctious PreK class I taught weekly yoga classes to. The teacher suggested we use a similar carpet for yoga. I quickly discovered that some students felt the entire carpet was their space! The room was not big enough for each student to have their own full size yoga mats so I sacrificed a few mats and cut about 3 circles out of each one and called them Yoga Dots. In hindsight, cutting the yoga mats into thirds to create rectangles or squares would have worked just as well. OH, well. Perspective, remember?
The yoga dots had great advantage. They were easily portable. Icarried them with me to several different schools and they took up a small amount of space in my car’s trunk. They were sturdy and I could clean them quickly. They gave each student a designated space to sit. When doing our yoga poses their bodies, of course, extended beyond their dots but as long as their tushies landed back on the dots and their hands and feet stayed on either side of the dots then everyone was happy and they each had a space to call their own.
I used the yoga dots in seven different classes, 3 year old through PreK classes and they worked wonders! When introducing the yoga dots (or even full size mats), I would arrange the dots on the floor and tell each student where to sit. Then, I would pretend to pass out imaginary magic glue bottles. We would use our imaginary magic glue to glue down the corners or edges of our yoga mats/dots. This was to ensure our mats/dots did not leave the floor until it was time. We would go over these rules for the first several classes. “Our mats are glued to the floor. They belong under our bottoms, not on our neighbors, not on our heads, not in the air.” Revise as you see fit. At the end of class, the magic glue would be released. You could throw in a magic word or two to make that happen, and the mats could be moved to a designated location.
I would love to hear if you try using yoga dots (or squares 😉) in your classroom for yoga, story time, reading time, etc. You can share here or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mariann is a former ESE teacher from Florida and a certified kids’ yoga teacher through Kidding Around Yoga. She currently is in the Marion County area. She creates yoga sequences with a literacy connection and social skills activities and yoga brain breaks for her Teachers Pay Teachers store, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Ommazing-Kids
You can also find her at ommazingkids.com and on social media: