Three Energizers That Promote Mindfulness in the Classroom
Oct 05, 2022
How do you start your day? Wolf Trap Teaching Artists like to use short, artful “energizers” in both professional and classroom settings to promote mindfulness and help prime students for learning. Energizers also help students reflect on what they’ve learned, and can be a useful tool for self-regulation and classroom management.
“An energizer serves to focus and connect the energy of the group, whet our creativity, and wake up/ready our bodies so we can engage with whatever follows in a meaningful way,” says Hillary Kay, Wolf Trap Teaching Artist with Greater Richmond Wolf Trap. “Regularly engaging in a communal activity can help set the tone and build the trust and familiarity needed to be vulnerable and creative together, regardless of how well the group knows each other.”
“The purpose of an energizer is to engage, activate, and release,” agrees Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist Terlene Terry-Todd, also known as “Ms. T.” “Children, teachers, and caregivers need to engage in motor experiences that activate the muscle-memory connection and releases the tension and stress of the moment.”
Wolf Trap asked Kay, Ms. T, and Rhianna Cranston, Wolf Trap Teaching Artist with Greater Denver Wolf Trap, to share their favorite energizers. Try using them in your classroom throughout the day:
“My Roots Go Down”
“I love to use the song ‘My Roots Go Down,’ by Sarah Pirtle,” says Kay. “It’s simple and repetitive and most everyone I’ve shared it with seems to enjoy it! On her website, Pirtle encourages people to use her song and create their own verses as they wish.”
“I typically include some gentle, easily adapted movement that reflects each verse,” Kay adds. “For example, when we sing the ‘My roots go down’ refrain we’ll do a repetitive movement downward; when we’re a ‘Mountain reaching to the sun’ we will do a repetitive upward-reaching movement.”
“The Clapping Game”
Cranston uses “the clapping game” as an energizer for late elementary through high school students.
“The purpose of this energizer is to get students moving and thinking quickly,” adds Cranston. “I enjoy using this energizer because it is a wonderful way to get students focused and also because it can easily be tailored to a variety of different fine arts practices.”
“The clapping game requires one student to make direct eye contact with another student and for both to clap at the same exact time,” says Cranston. “Students/teachers can change speeds, directions, add tempo, and/or add claps. You can also add different body parts as focal points such as snapping, patting, or doing another non-locomotor movement.”
“Take That and Rewind It Back”
Ms. T takes a spontaneous approach to energizers, and utilizes them “when the class least expects to move, but needs to move.” At a recent gathering of Wolf Trap Teaching Artists, Ms. T led an energizer that combined movement with a call-and-response approach with her audience:
Reach down! (Reach to the floor)
Reach front! (Bend, and stretch arms out to the front)
Reach back! (Bend and stretch arms to the back)
Reach side! (Side bend, reach arms to the left)
To the side! (Side bend, reach arms to the right)
All around! (Lean forward, reach arms forward in a circle)
And through! (Bend to the floor, reach arms through legs or to the floor)
(Stand/jump upright) Now take (Clap) that (Clap), and rewind it back! (Move forearms/hands in a circle)!
(Repeat steps above)
Put it all in (Shimmy to the floor) and that’s what we get! (Clap)
Energizers are especially effective when there is a direct connection to the curriculum. Incorporating multiple art forms─like movement and music─fully engages the participants.
“Moving for change can be chaotic,” says Ms. T, “but a quick energizer can bring the class back together in a simple, fun way.”
“My Roots Go Down,” by Sarah Pirtle
General website: https://sarahpirtle.com/ Lyrics and background: https://sarahpirtle.com/hope-sings/my-roots-go-down.htm.