This is the time of year when educators and students alike can feel stress, stress from the looming changes associated with wrapping up the year and preparing for the less structured summer months. Following are a few simple stretching activities that teachers and students can do right at their desks.
Remember: make it fun and playful. And challenge yourself, see how many times a day you can integrate it into your schedule.
Advanced Preparation: Place a different sticker on the right and left side of each desk (e.g. right cat, left cow). Discuss with students that each of their hands is associated with one of the stickers. The hand closest to the cat is your “cat hand”. The hand closest to the cow is your “cow hand.” If you want to include added novelty, make class relaxation hats to wear as you are practicing relaxation.
Begin by leading students in practicing a deep breath, fully engaging the diaphragm. Place one hand on the tummy. Inhale through the nose and blow out through the mouth. As you breath in, feel the hand on your tummy push out. As you breathe out, feel the hand on your tummy float in. Make sure that the exhale is longer than the inhale. It helps to count slowly to 5 on the exhale in order to guide the length of student exhales. Pause. Repeat. Now you are ready to begin the desk stretching activity. Introduce the activity, by saying that we are going to practice Desk Stretching. Get ready by resting your hands lightly on the desk in front of you.
Begin and guide the students in the actions listed below. Say “Inhale” before each of the actions on the left, then say say “Exhale” and follow with the corresponding action on the right.
Inhale, scrunch your shoulders to your ears. Exhale, roll your shoulders down your back. Inhale, scrunch your shoulders to your ears. Exhale, roll your shoulders down your back. Inhale, sit tall. Exhale, put your chin on your chest. Inhale, sweep your chin and look at the cat. Exhale, put your chin on your chest. Inhale, sweep your chin to look at the cow. Exhale, put your chin on your chest. Inhale, put your hands on your desk and push your back out like a cat. Exhale, let your body go and relax. Inhale, put your hands on your desk and arch your back like a cow mooing. Exhale, let your body go and relax. Inhale, sit tall. Exhale, relax your body. Inhale, raise your cat hand up high. Exhale, swing your hand/arm across your chest to point at the cow. Inhale, catch your shoulder with your other hand and give a hug. Exhale, put your hands on your desk. Inhale, raise your cow hand up high. Exhale, swing your hand/arm across your chest to point at the cat. Inhale catch your shoulder with your cat hand and give a hug. Exhale, put your hands on your desk. Inhale, stretch both hands up over head. Exhale, bring your hands quietly to your desk and say, “I am ready to learn.”