SPARKLERS / Managing emotions

Sleeping Statues

A calming game that paves the way for tummy breathing.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki take part in a mindfulness experience by focusing on breathing, and reflect on how this can help us relax.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Mindful breathing draws our attention to the present, calming both the body and mind. With regular practice, students will be able to tune in to their breathing whenever they feel upset or angry, or want to unwind and relax.

By focusing on our breathing, we can change the way we feel. But before we can tune into our breathing, we need to be get used to relaxing and staying still.

This game helps students develop these skills in a fun, playful way.

Tikanga tips

Avoid stepping over people, even though this can be tricky in a crowded classroom. If the space is small, ask tamariki to lie with their legs together and bring their arms in close to their bodies, so you have more freedom to move around.

And mind those heads! They’re tapu and shouldn’t be touched unless the student gives their permission. It's also important tamariki aren’t resting their heads on cushions or beanbags people sometimes sit on. If needed, have special pillows for heads only, or improvise with folded sweatshirts.

Hei mahi - What to do

Let students know that you’re going to play a game that’s about who can be the best sleeping statue.

Explain that to play, they’ll need to lie down and close their eyes, and from then the only part of their body they’re allowed to move (to stay in), is their tummy going up and down as they breathe.

The first time you play, say that their challenge is to stay still for just 30 seconds, and that whoever can do this is a winner. Starting with an achievable timeframe will encourage success, even for tamariki who find being still very difficult.

To play, create a large space where students can lie without touching.

  • Ask students to find a space, lie down and close their eyes.
  • Then let them know you’re starting the timer.
  • If tamariki can’t manage the 30 seconds – don’t worry too much about them being ‘still’, as long as they’re trying and not disrupting others.
  • Praise students’ efforts – particularly those who find it difficult.
  • If any student becomes distracting, try sitting near them, or bring them near you. It’s important that everyone ‘feels’ like they’ve succeeded.
  • Congratulate the students who complete the chosen time. They are the ‘winners’ of that round.
  • We’d suggest writing the time the whole group achieves on the board, so next time they can try to beat their class score.
  • Increase the time-frame as the skill develops, and reward improvements with activities your class enjoy.

Take this outside on a warm day and play Sleeping Statues on the grass.

What next?

With older tamariki, let someone be ‘in’ and eliminate those who move, until you have a single ‘winner’. Those who move can quietly go and read or draw.

Once most of your group have mastered this game (and can stay still for 1-2 minutes), progress to Tummy breathing.

Sparklers at home

Here are a couple more resources for parents to check out with their tamariki at home:

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

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