Zen Counting Game

Length of Time: 3-5 minutes

Game/Activity Name: Zen Counting Game (adapted from Street Yoga Curriculum)

Age Group: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Supplies: None needed

Space Set-Up: Any format (circle, mats, clusters)

Game Instructions:

This activity is a counting game that can help refocus a group. One person begins with counting out loud “one”, followed by another person at random counting out loud “two”, and so on. No one can say the same number at the same time or tell another person to go. No words are involved except numbers. The goal of the game is to see how high you can count together as a group.

Explore different varieties such as pace, whispering, or people closing their eyes. This activity helps to build awareness of other people and yourself as you need to be watchful and listen to what is going on.

Special Considerations:

Can be used at the beginning of a class to get everyone’s attention or at the end of another game to bring the group back together.

5 Finger Contract

Length of Time: 5 Minutes

Game/Activity Name: 5 Finger Contract

Age Group: Elementary/ Middle School

Supplies: n/a

Space Set-Up: Circle

Game Instructions:

The 5-finger contract is a great way to set up expectations prior to a new class. This gives the instructor and the students something to refer back to during the course of the session in the event that unwanted behaviors are presented. Typically for the first class the teacher will present each piece of the contract and what it means, in subsequent sessions, students can be used to reference the contract.

Thumb = ‘thumbs up’ - be positive and encouraging to everyone in the group (including yourself!)

Pointer Finger = ‘#1’ - 1 person talking at a time, 1 person per mat (for safety considerations)

Middle Finger = ‘disrespect’ - We will all be respectful to everyone during the duration of the session

Ring Finger = ‘commitment’ - Students are committed to the session, if they need to take a break or go to the bathroom, no problem, but they agree to not distract others

Pink Finger = ‘safety’ - safety first, follow the instructions of the teachers to ensure safety

Special Considerations:

If a group already has some structure around expectations (perhaps this is a group that is around each other a lot) this may not be necessary. It has been useful with groups that we see somewhat regularly to continually remind them of our expectations (and let them know we have them)!  

Connections (Y Cards)

Length of Time: 5-10 minutes

Game/Activity Name: Connections

Age Group: All ages

Supplies: String/yarn

Space Set-Up: Circle

Game Instructions:

One person begins holding the ball of string and starts to list facts about themself (I have a pet dog, my favorite food is pizza, etc.) and when someone else from the circle hears something that is also true for them, they say, “Connect,” and the ball of string is passed to them. Each person should make one connection before players are repeated. You can play until the yarn runs out, or as long as students stay engaged.

Special Considerations:

It’s fun to point out to the students how we have created a visual representation of how we are all connected (you may be able to relate this to the “Namaste” at the end of class.)

Freeze Yoga

Length of Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Game/Activity Name: Freeze Yoga (with music or counting)

Age Group: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Supplies: None needed (or a speaker if you are doing the music version)

Space Set-Up:

Circle if possible, if the space is small and there is a lot of kids you can have them move around the space

Game Instructions:

The group moves around the circle as the ‘museum curator’ counts or closes their eyes in the middle of the circle. When the music stops (usually managed by a yoga instructor) or when the curator reaches 10 all other students freeze in a yoga pose. The curator chooses the best statue (still, quiet, close to an actual pose) and they switch places. The game continues without any real winner for as long as is appropriate for the group.

Special Considerations:

This game is great as there is no winner. I usually try to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to play the role of curator. Having music/dancing happen can be really fun for a kids group. I try and have some kidzbop songs downloaded for this purpose.