Monday, February 28, 2011

The Magic Train

I got a massage last week and it was heavenly!  My muscles needed it.  My body got a cue to relax and my muscles responded by letting go.  Believe it or not, you are never to young for a massage.  A gentle massage helps the body relax, helps to connect to deep breathing and helps reinforce nonverbal communication.

When I was doing my student teaching in the public schools, I was discouraged from touching any child. I understand this as a means of safety for both the children as well as the teachers.  Unfortunately, touch can be a great teaching tool.  It can be a way of communicating, calming and encouraging a child. 

When supervised and instructed the children can use touch to communicate and teach each other.  If this still is out of the question in your teaching position skip to step 6 of the lesson.

The Magic Train
  1. You can make a magic train with the children; one child sitting in back of the next.  If your class is big enough you can make a complete circle ( you can also do this in pairs taking turns giving a gentle touch.)  Have the children place their hands on their neighbors' shoulders.  They should not move their hands.  The magic train has not left the station.  This is a quite and calm train.  It does not move fast.  It is powered by breath.  It needs the class to breath together, slowly, in order to start chugging down the tracks.
  2.  Next, they can give a gentle squeeze of the shoulders.  If this is too difficult for your class they can pat the shoulders instead.  (After the squeeze have the children pat their partners shoulders and backs.)
  3. Now the train has to turn.  The children need to slowly "draw" a circle on their neighbors' backs.  First clockwise and then counterclockwise.  (If you do this activity in pairs you can also have the children draw different shapes or letters on each other's backs, concentrating on curves, straight lines and angles.)
  4. Have the train come back to the station by having the children pat the shoulders again and give a gentle squeeze.  Then the children should have their hands on their partners shoulders just breathing as the train comes to a stop.
  5. Discuss how it felt to give a gentle touch and to receive a gentle touch.
  6. Lastly, have them cross their arms and squeeze their own shoulders.  Have the children give themselves a hug.  They can help their muscles relax as well. 
The next time you need your students to calm their energy you can have them do the "Magic Train" or give themselves a gentle massage.  It is a very important to learn how to have a light touch, how to communicate with others non verbally and to calm oneself down.

I hope you enjoy sharing this calming and relaxing exercise with the children in your life.  And special thanks to Becky Acabchuk ( for inspiring this activity.


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