Monday, February 9, 2015

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues


The Winter Blues
A medical diagnosis might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I am not a medical professional, but I have seen these symptoms in many of my students:

change of moods
increased crying
difficulty concentrating
fatigue or loss of energy
lack of motivation
feeling sluggish or agitated
problems getting along with others
changes in appetite

Honestly, with the incredible amount of snow here in the northeast, we've been stuck inside way too much, and it's not just the kids struggling with these symptoms!

As I'm sure you know, teaching can be tough under normal conditions. 
It's even tougher when the kids just want to nap at their desks!

But what can we do about it? 

Here are a few things I've tried:

1. Exercise!  Get those kids out of their seats and moving! They may not feel like getting up at all, but that's a sign they really need to!  It's important to do some exercises that will get their blood pumping, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or Go Noodle! (If you haven't discovered Go Noodle, it's time to check it out! It's free, and the kids love these Brain Breaks!)
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog

2. Rest and Relaxation! They need some quiet time, too! There are yoga moves that are perfect for kids, and simplified forms of meditation. (Many studies show the need for meditation!) In my classroom we have "silent seconds". That's when the kids sit with their hands on their knees, trying to clear their minds of all the clutter. They love it, and seriously need to clear their minds. (We all do!) Another form of relaxation? Bring out the watercolor
paints! They are suddenly VERY quiet when those come out!

Here are a few links to Amazon if you want more information on Yoga for children. 

        
3. Happy Music! There is much research that proves music affects our moods. When the children are acting tired and dragging themselves around, it's time to put on some happy music! It's ok to let them dance! HERE is a post I did years ago that has several suggestions for Happy Music for the classroom. HERE is another link to a post that gives suggestions for a variety of kinds of music, and when to use it in the classroom. 

4. Get Outside! I realize sometimes this isn't possible, but it's important for those kids to breathe fresh air and get away from the stale air in the classroom. Plus, they need that Vitamin D from the sun! (Did you realize many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
  are similar to those of seasonal affective disorder?) What learning activities can be done in the snow? Measuring? Science? I'm sure you can come up with something!

5. Shake it Up! Kids need to look at things differently. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or having a backwards schedule day. It might mean changing the routine or doing something totally different one day. It's amazing how one crazy day can put them in a better mood. Plus, when they get back to the routine, they appreciate it more!

6. Plan Something Special! Kids (and adults) need something to look forward to. It gives them motivation. Luckily, February has plenty of opportunities for special activities! We're planning a Valentine's Day party, and I'll go out of my way to make it super fun. They need it! We also have Day 100 (which will be whenever we get back to school after this recent snowstorm!), Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. (Which brings me back to #2: rest and relaxation!) But with the winter we've had, I may have to bring back something I haven't done in years:

A Virtual Trip to Mexico!
Yes, we actually go on a virtual trip to Mexico. We get in our virtual airplane, put on our seat belts and fly to Mexico. We get out of our seats, and exit the plane to the warmth of the Mexican beaches. We bring our beach towels, have tortilla chips and salsa while enjoying our books. We see virtual animals and feel the virtual warm breeze.  I might even sneak in some mapping skills and a handful of Spanish words to keep it interesting.

Of course, I might have to bring out some resources like this one: 
Click image for link!

or this one
Click image for link!

or perhaps this one:
Click image for link!


We CAN get past this winter!


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