Starting a Mindful Mornings Group

At my school, we have a homeroom time 4 mornings during the week. Students go to classes to get help in core subjects when needed or classes for enrichment and fun. There are homerooms for Polynesian dance, engineering, gardening and more. I was asked if I wanted to have one myself, and I jumped at the chance to pilot a mindfulness group. If you have been thinking about starting a mindful mornings group, keep reading to find a little more information about how I got started and what we’re up to now!

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? Read more about how I started one and the activities we use!

Why You Need A Mindful Mornings Group

How kids start their day sets the stage for how the rest of the day will go. We can’t control how their days start at home, but we can change the stage at school! Mindfulness has a whole host of benefits, including improved attention, increased compassion, and stress reduction. Starting the morning with mindfulness can put your students on the right track for the rest of the day!

Choosing Participants

I don’t want to disclose too much information about the students that are in my group, but I will say that some were referred and some volunteered. The group is mixed 7-8th grade with male and female students from diverse backgrounds. Like any group, I described the group and the activities to each student, and I asked them if they would be willing to participate. I only had one student decline to participate and ended up with a group of 11 students. It’s a little larger than I would normally like a group, but the group size is working well for us right now.

For your own group, you may want to gather students who have difficulty regulating in the morning or who could simply benefit from a few quiet moments before going to their everyday classes. Ask for teacher nominations or invite students you visit with frequently in the mornings. You know your students best!

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? I started a mindfulness group in my school counseling program. We do mindfulness exercises and mindfulness activities in small group. These mindfulness activities work well for classroom guidance lessons or morning meeting mindfulness in elementary school or middle school! -Counselor Keri

Introducing Mindfulness

Let’s be honest: mindfulness doesn’t come easy. It’s not a simple concept to grasp. I began my group by explaining to my students that mindfulness means letting go of what has happened or might happen so that we can be open to what’s happening right now. This mention of “letting go” is encouraging for many of them because they have things that want to let go of from earlier that morning, last week, or some other time.

We also talk about how mindfulness simply means paying attention and tuning in right now. I let my students know this is sometimes hard and that they shouldn’t beat themselves up if other thoughts enter their minds while we’re trying an activity! We constantly talk about how mindfulness is a practice because it takes… practice.

Selecting Activities

No two students are the same, but lucky for us, there are lots of different types of mindfulness activities out there! I have some students who prefer guided controlled breathing exercises while others prefer a silent nature walk. So, we have done a little bit of everything:

Breathing Exercises

Because breathing is so integral to mindful practices, we started with controlled breathing exercises. We used printed tracing cards to start (I made these as 8.5×11 posters but print 4 to a page). My students use their fingers to trace a rainbow, starfish, figure 8, or their hand just to get comfortable with a breathing pattern for 3-5 minutes. They each have their own favorites, but the figure 8 and rainbow are always a big hit.

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? Read more about how I started one and the activities we use!

Meditation Exercises

While imagining a different place might seem counter to the goal of focusing on the here and now, guided meditation works great for easing students in to paying attention to their bodies. Describing another place and having them picture it first ease some of discomfort or tension of trying something new. Then, when students have a clear picture of the place I’m describing, I ask them to tune in and notice how this place we’ve imagined is affecting them. They notice what sensations or tensions they have right now.

A favorite with my students is a Sounds of the City activity. I have them first picture a big, busy city in their minds. I describe people walking with heavy or quick footsteps, cars stopping and going, and rhythmic sounds of voices. Then, I have them tune in to their own rhythms. What patterns or beats do they notice in their own bodies? We wrap up the activity by listening to some city sounds and seeing if any rhythms in our bodies match up to the sounds of the city.

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? Read more about how I started one and the activities we use!

Active Exercises

I have several students in my group who just aren’t at all comfortable with the guided breathing or meditation activities. They want to move while they practice mindfulness, and that’s okay! Mindfulness doesn’t have to take place in a seat. I also introduced some mindful yoga activities in which we move through breathing and yoga poses all while paying attention to our bodies.

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? Read more about how I started one and the activities we use!

We also do active things like go on nature walks while tuning into our senses. Another favorite activity is sitting outside with eyes closed or eyes locked on one spot and only tuning in to what we hear and noticing the sensations we have as we hear those sounds. Some of my students find these activities with movement or that take place outdoors to be less threatening or uncomfortable.

Student-Driven Mindfulness

After introducing my students to a wide variety of mindfulness exercises, I am moving toward a student-driven practice in our group. Each activity that we have practiced is posted on the wall. As students come in, they will be able to choose the mindfulness exercise they’d like to begin their day with and do it independently since they now have the skills to practice it on their own. We will begin with a check-in, students will be able to move into their independent practice, and then we’ll wrap up with another check-in and debrief before they head off their the academic classes.

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? Read more about how I started one and the activities we use!

Measuring Progress

To measure progress, I am using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Because my students have diverse backgrounds and needs, the goal of my group is simply that they will report an improved level of mindful awareness. After this pilot mindful mornings group, I hope to have more targeted groups. Students completed the assessment at the beginning of our group and will complete it again when we wrap up at the end of the quarter. I’ll be sure to report back and update this post with results afterward!

Let’s Connect

Do you implement mindful mornings at your school? What does it look like for you? Let me know in the comments section below. Do you have other questions about my mindful mornings group and what we’re up to? Leave those in the comments too!

Find Resources in this Post

Mindful Mornings Activities

Zen Kids Mindfulness Group Curriculum

Read More on the Blog:

Mindfulness Activities for School Counseling

Want to start a mindful mornings group or activities at your school? I started a mindfulness group in my school counseling program. We do mindfulness exercises and mindfulness activities in small group. These mindfulness activities work well for classroom guidance lessons or morning meeting mindfulness in elementary school or middle school! -Counselor Keri

13 thoughts on “Starting a Mindful Mornings Group

  1. I have been thinking of facilitating a morning group, and this is perfect! I am so excited to present this to my principal!
    I have a few questions:
    What is the maximum number of students you would recommend to have participate?
    How long is each session?
    How long does the group run for?

    Thank you so much for this! I am so looking forward to this!

    1. Hey Kelsey! I think size really depends on your students. If you’re implementing the group to target behavior, definitely smaller. That’s not necessarily my focus so 11ish works for me. Each homeroom is 40 minutes, and we have about 5 min of morning announcements so 30-35. This first group is running for a full semester, 4 days/week. I’m moving toward 1 quarter next time; we just don’t have the structure to move kids to a new homeroom each quarter right now.

  2. I have been wanting to start a Mindfulness Group at the High School. Do you have any recommended curriculum for that age group?

    1. I don’t only because I’ve never worked with high schoolers! I’m hesitant to recommend anything I’ve used since I’m not sure how it would go over with that age group.

  3. Hi Keri,
    How do you see this working with younger students, K-5? I was thinking I could use some of your ideas for my intermediate students, but what changes would you make to adapt to younger students? Thank you for this great idea! I will not be part of the class schedule, but could try to get a 20 min. morning time slot for kiddos with trauma backgrounds or who carry a lot of stress. Most of our teachers would be willing to send students to something like this. 🙂

    1. Hi! I’ve done it with elementary as well – 10 minutes first thing in the morning as a refocus check-in. Teachers are totally on board once they see how it benefits the students throughout the day. You could also encourage a school-wide initiative for all teachers to start their morning meetings with a 5 minute exercise for the whole class!

  4. Love this! How do you manage the kids for those that need to go walk when the others are practicing meditating? Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Fortunately for me, I am in the corner room with a nice outside area right outside my door (we’re an open-air school). My students know if they need a walk, they need to stay within view of the door.

  5. Hi Keri. I am starting a Mindful Mornings group next week with 1st and 2nd graders. I was looking through your mindful morning posts because you always have amazing ideas! I am wondering, is there a curriculum or a collection of activities you used on Teacher pay Teachers? And secondly, did you have any invitations to this sort of group? I didn’t see any, but you are so creative, I just wondered what you may have had if any. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Sandy! I think you’ll find either of these will work well with your group! This one is animal themed with one mindfulness activity for each letter of the alphabet: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mindfulness-from-A-to-Z-26-Mindfulness-Activities-for-Kids-School-Counseling-3715921 and this set is monster themed (and has a storybook to go along with it) with one activity for each letter of the alphabet as well: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mindfulness-Activities-Mindfulness-Scripts-for-Classroom-Mindfulness-Exercises-3749709

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