“Just take a breath!” How many times have you heard that, and it didn’t really help? Imagine being a child and not even knowing HOW to take a deep breath. We want to give our students the tools they need to be successful in all areas. That includes de-escalating big feelings, refocusing when they’re a little off task, and avoiding burnout. Teach them to use these breathing exercises for kindergarten, use the free printables as posters in a cool/calm down area, and you’ll experience a happier and more mindful class!
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Why Teach Deep Breathing?
Little kids have really BIG feelings (let’s be honest, so do we teachers!) Sometimes it’s hard to control or express them. When we tell a student to calm down or take a breath, it doesn’t always resonate with them. They need to be taught what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like before they can use it as a tool.
Mindful breathing can help slow everything down to control reactions, relax muscles, increase energy, and reduce stress. It allows students time to think and react in a calmer way. Use one of these breathing exercises with your kindergarten class to help keep a positive learning environment.
Four Breathing Exercises For Kindergarten
There are several mindful breathing tips you can follow, but these four are sure to be effective with your kinders. As always, model the expectations and skills! Practice all of these techniques yourself and your students will soon be following your example. Then print out the free pages at the bottom, laminate them, and hang them up in your cool-down center! Your students will know exactly what to do!
Read more about creating a cool-down center in your classroom here!
1. Five Finger Breathing
This is a great tangible method students can use to have a visual to go with their breathing. They will hold a hand out in front of them and use a finger from their other hand to trace as they breathe. Start at the bottom of the thumb, breathe in as they trace up, pause briefly at the top, then breathe out as they trace down the other side of the thumb. Pause again at the bottom before breathing in as they trace up their index finger. Repeat for each finger: breathe in as they trace up, pause, breathe out as they trace down, pause. Your students will be concentrating so hard as they are breathing and tracing, it’ll be sure to have a positive effect. Use one of the differentiated options of the five finger breathing printables to laminate for students to use as a reminder of what to do.
This is a great method for your really creative and imaginative thinkers. There are lots of things they can picture while they deep breathe: blowing bubbles from a wand, scattering the seeds on a dandelion flower, blowing out birthday candles, and smelling a flower to breathe in. You can show them pictures ahead of time so they know what it looks like, and they can choose their favorite visualization.
This page included with the free printable has two different options for wording, so you can choose which would be best for your class! Print it in color or black and white, laminate, and hang up for your students to trace their finger along the arrow as they pause to sniff the flower and blow out the candle.
3. Rainbow Breathing
Go Noodle is a great website that has brain breaks for students, including some deep breathing ones. One favorite among students is Rainbow Breath. They raise their arms up as they take deep breaths in and out, pretending to make a rainbow. The video walks them through multiple times, with fun graphics to go with it. Check it out here:
4. Animal Imitation Breaths
Kinders love imitating things, especially when they get to make fun noises. Encourage that love with some animal imitations while they practice breathing. Some fun ones are:
- Snake Hiss: a long inhale through the nose and a long breath out of the mouth with a hissing noise like a snake.
- Bunny Nose: three quick sniffs through the nose in and then one long exhale out. See if you can wiggle your nose to look like a bunny while you do this.
- Bumblebee Buzz: inhale through the nose while the mouth is closed, then breathe out making a humming or buzzing noise while the mouth is still closed.
- Dragon Fire: a large breath in through the mouth, and then a loud huffing breath out pretending it’s fire coming out.
- Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice these, the more natural it will come to students. Soon they will be turning to their favorite breathing exercise on their own.
- Acknowledge feelings! Teaching breathing isn’t meant to diminish how a student is feeling. Sometimes hearing “I know that’s really overwhelming” or “I know how frustrated you are” will make them feel seen and understood.
- Give gentle reminders! If you can see a situation escalating, or a student starts to become stressed, give a quick visual reminder of the breathing exercises you’ve learned like holding up a hand for five-finger breathing or wiggling your nose for bunny breathing. You can send the student to your cool-down center to use one of the visual posters if they need a minute to breathe on their own.
- Keep it positive! Another way to promote positivity and de-escalate stress in your classroom is by spreading affirmations! Set up this positive affirmation mirror and accompanying activities for your students to speak kinder about themselves and to one another. You can get it here on Simply Kinder, or download it here if you’re a member of Simply Kinder +.
Grab Your Free Printable
Enter your information below and the Simply Kinder Freebie Fairy (who is busy sniffing her own flowers) will send these visual aids for breathing exercises right over to your inbox. Already a subscriber? No worries! You can still unlock it here, too. Or if you’re a member of Simply Kinder +, you can download it instantly here!
We hope you love learning about and using these breathing exercises for kindergarten in your class! Have any other ideas? Let us know in a post on our Simply Kinder Teacher Group Facebook page. Happy teaching!
This post was written by Johanna, an experienced early elementary teacher who loves learning about new teaching ideas for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade!