A Crafting Series

By: Jill Stockburger

Each new day, during this season, brings with it the pendulum swing of being both a fluid time of transitions and the reality of a different pace of life. As we hunker down with social distancing, it can help to go back to the very beginning. Whew, let’s return to the natural resource of our breath! Noticing our breath can help us calm dawn and self-regulate by simply paying attention to it. Breathing is also our body’s first clue to telling us what we are feeling.

Catch a Breath

The book, Alphabreath: The ABC of Mindful Breathing, by Christopher Willard & Daniel Rechtschaffen playfully engages our breath in different ways from A to Z. Our bodies connect to our hearts and minds in AMAZING ways!

For example:
A: Alligator Breath: “Open your arms wide like alligator jaws on the in-
breath. Snap them shut on the out-breath.”
B: Butterfly Breath: “Spread your arms like beautiful butterfly wings on the
in-breath, and let them flap gently on the out-breath.
G: Gratitude Breath: “As you breathe in, think of a person you’re grateful
for. As you breathe out, send them a smile.
K: Know Your Breath: “As you slowly breathe in and out, check in with your
five senses. What can you feel, hear, taste, smell, or see?”
L: Lion Breath: “Breath in, feeling brave and strong like a lion. Breathe out,
letting out a powerful (but quiet) roar!

And, that is just a handful of options. The alligator breath really helps me release some anger or frustration! Mindfulness is a lifelong skill and essential to active listening.
When learning social and emotional skills, visual art can be helpful while providing a connecting experience, sensory engagement, and whole-brain thinking.

Here’s one for you: It’s time to use those toilet paper rolls…

Supplies: Toilet Paper or Paper Towel rolls; crayons, markers, stickers, paint, tissue paper, ribbon, streamers, tissue paper, safety scissors (or, supervision), and tape…variety and resourcing is welcome!
Ages: 3 to 4+

Take a toilet paper or paper towel roll and cut off the top (about an inch or so) and set aside.

Cut a straight line all the way up the remainder of the roll.
Use this cut to tighten the roll to roll it thinner and tape on top and bottom to hold it in place.

Allow child to decorate the roll with paint, markers, stickers, crayons, allow the creative juices to flow.

Tape strands of thin light decorative ribbon, tissue paper, or streamers along the inside of the small ring you cut off earlier.

Tape the ring on top of the thinner roll to make the wand.

Now it is time to BREATHE into your Mindfulness Wand and get curious!

Other Options: Instead of a wand, your mindfulness creation might be a creature like a dragon or a lion. The only limit is your imagination!
Don’t Forget: Learning and connecting can be done throughout the entire process. It’s actually more about the process. Ask what the materials feel like. Ask what feelings emerge with differing types of breath. If frustrations arise when visual art does not come out as expected, use the opportunity as a tangible image of re-do’s, and connect through some team problem solving or collaborative re-invention.

About the author: Jill Stockburger is a counseling intern with Memphis Family Connection Center as she obtains her Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy through Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.
Jill loves to see all the arts modalities of visual art, music, drama, dance, and creative writing integrated with TBRI principles.
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