Nicole Koleshis
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New Year, New Commitment + Winter Animals

New year, new blog post … and commitment! I’m feeling inspired to blog more, so I’m committing to 2 blogs posts a month. The topics will mostly be around Next Generation Yoga Lesson Plans and Yoga for kids with special needs. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to read about, please let me know!

When blogging about NGY Lesson Plans, my intention is to provide additional teaching tips and possibly some extra info that didn’t make it into the official Lesson Plan. It might be something I discovered while teaching the Lesson Plan myself or another song or prop that fits with the theme. Or a random funny / cute / inspiring kid story ;).

This month “Winter Animals” got a facelift and was re-released. This Lesson Plan was originally released in December 2013, which feels like so long ago, and it’s been a best-seller and crowd-pleaser for the past 4 years. “Winter Animals” is the 1st NGY Lesson Plan we’ve re-released and I’m so glad we did because the 2-7 yr. old Lesson Plan contains, in my opinion, one of the best Laurie Berkner songs ever! It’s called “Boots.” I’m kinda obsessed with it and kids absolutely love it. You can listen here.

In the Lesson Plan, there’s a basic description of how to bring this song into a Kids Yoga class and after teaching it a dozen times or more, I’ve discovered some simple, yet powerful and effective, things to add more Yoga and sensory-rich movements to the sequence, which I’ll describe below.

First, I really emphasize the chant aspect. Kids LOVE to chant. Repeating sounds and words is grounding for the body and mind. So, when the lyrics say, “B-O-O-T-S boots!” tap the feet in Standing Forward Bend and chant along with Laurie.

Then, balance on one leg in Mountain and then the other to put on black, brown, frog, dancing and rain boats. Kids in this age range are still getting comfy with balancing on one leg without falling or getting too silly, so this is a sneaky (and fun) way to add in more practice for this skill.

When wearing black and brown boots, stomp around, either on or off the mat. When wearing frog boots, add in a Squat and frog jump, possibly with the hands on the floor and just the feet lifting up. When wearing dancing boots, dance on or off the mat. When wearing rain boots, invite the children to imagine there’s a puddle on the yoga mat and practice jumping forward and back while saying, “Splash!” Again, in between switching boots, don’t forget to chant, “B-O-O-T-S boots!” and then, balance to put on the next pair.

The chanting and vestibular input in Standing Forward Bend prepares the kids for balancing and they think it’s super fun. Adding in simple, yet sensory-rich, Yoga poses, movements and other components can enhance the class in regards to behavior management, body awareness, learning opportunities and enjoyment for this age group.

If you don’t already have “Winter Animals for 2-7 yr. olds,” you can get a copy here (it’s also available for 8-13 yr. olds here). Or if you want to add a little Laurie Berkner “Boots” action into another theme, use this description to do so! I’d love to hear what you think about this song and Lesson Plan in general. Feel free to comment below.

Happy teaching!