I often encourage children to do “turtle time” when they are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing a state of unease or anger. When our emotions run high, having a code word or signal to initiate a calming activity is important. “Turtle Time” can serve as that signal. I explain to students that turtle time helps us to pull our scattered energy back to ourselves so that we can feel focused and calm. It also helps us to slow down so that we can get calm, collect our thoughts and decide what to do. Here are the steps:
1. Get into your shell. Close your eyes and imagine collecting all of your scattered energy around you and pulling it into your shell. You can give yourself a hug or roll up into an actual ball if that feels better. (For students who are often upset, or who need to establish a greater sense of safety, you can create a tangible shell space by putting a blanket over a table and asking them to go into their “shell” under the table).
2. Once you get into your shell, take three, slow deep breaths.
3. Think about possible calm ways you can return to the situation or back to the activity you were completing. Or you can name the situation that was bothering you and decide on some ideas for addressing it.
As you are doing the pose, ask children to think about all of the patience they have inside, all the wonderful good feeling energy inside them. Tell them that it is okay to be unhurried for a moment and to relax right here in this place. Remind them that all of their energy is now back inside and they are able to focus and concentrate easily.
Play Musical Turtle
Play some soothing, relaxing music. Tell children that the idea is to move like a turtle, very slow and deliberately, paying close attention to each mindful step. When the music stops, we will practice turtle time. Everyone will get into their shells, take three deep breaths and repeat the following thought: I am calm and relaxed. I am ready to pay attention and learn.
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