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Back to School Yoga Mindfulness Workshop

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Have you ever rushed through the day going from activity to activity on auto-pilot?  Eating without tasting and looking without seeing?  Children are leading an increasingly busy life with school, sports events, music lessons and more. So they also experience that rushed pace.  Mindfulness techniques train you to pay attention to those things in the present moment in a nonjudgmental and accepting manner. This gives children the opportunity to stop and choose a response thoughtfully rather than reacting impulsively.

Here are some of the exercises we tried this last week in our workshop:

Smiling Meditation: Smiling is mouth yoga. When we smile we release tension in our face. With our eyes closed as we breathed in and out  we silently said “Breathing in, I smile – Breathing out, I relax”

Finger Meditation: You simply touch each finger to your thumb and repeat Peace Begins With Me for each tap.
For example:

  1. touch thumb to index finger while mentally saying “peace”
  2. touch thumb to middle finger while mentally saying “begins”
  3. touch thumb to ring finger while mentally saying “with”
  4. touch thumb to pinkie finger while mentally saying “me”

We then tried a few sensory exercises:

The Raisin Meditation:
Everyone got one raisin. We pretended we had never seen a raisin before and really examined it closely to see all the wrinkled and grooves. We then chewed it very slowly for 3 whole minutes before swallowing it and noticed it’s taste and texture. We talked about other ways to slow down when eating like chewing each mouthful 30 to 50 times or using your non-dominate hand.
Find Your Stone:                                                                        

Each child was given a stone to feel and observe for one minute. Then I took back all the stones and asked the children to sit in a circle with their eyes closed. As I passed around the stones one at a time we tried to guess which was our stone purely by touch. This was very successful as almost everyone picked the correct one.

Hand Clapping:

Hand clapping songs have been shown to improve motor and cognitive skills in children. We practiced the hand clap below called “My Little Light”.

Guided Meditation:

A deep relaxation is a wonderful way for our bodies to rest and heal. We dimmed the lights and played some soft music while I read a guided meditation. If your child is apprehensive about a big test the next day you could read a script similar to this.  Or a nice relaxation before bedtime for children having difficulties in settling down is this  “Magical Playground Guided Imagery”

You also might enjoy these CD’s from the library:

The Floppy Sleep Game by Patty Teel.

Good Night: Enchanting Stories for Children by Jim Weiss

Other resources from the library include:

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises For Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel.

Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness With Children by Thich Nhat Hanh

Ms. Mercedes

Movement, Dance, and Literacy

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Before children have the ability to speak,they communicate through movement, smiling, and pointing. Speech is a complex fine motor skill that develops after children have the ability to understand their needs. But even the youngest baby will sometimes respond to the rhythm of a song by swaying or bouncing. Movement can be comforting as in rocking or fun as in bouncing and spinning.  Here are some stories, songs and activities that promote dance and movement,

Book: Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont

Action Song: Hop Scotch Polka from Songs and Games for Toddlers by Bob McGrath.

Hop a little on your right, right foot.

Hop a little on your left, left foot.

Hop a little on your right, right foot.

That’s the Hop Scotch Polka.

Tap a little on your right, right hip…..

Tap a little on your right, right elbow…

Tap a little on your right, right cheek…

Book:  Hop a Little, Jump a Little! by Annie Kubler

Action Song: Momma’s Little Baby Loves Dancing

(To the tune of Short’ning Bread)

Momma’s little baby loves dancing, dancing (rocking up and down)

Momma’s little baby loves turning around (turn around)

Momma’s little baby loves dancing, dancing

Momma’s little baby loves to boogie down (Dance down to ground)

Lean to the left,

Lean to the right,

Hug that baby nice and tight!

Fine motor skills, or the ability to grasp, pick up, and release are all an important building blocks in your child’s ability to hold a pencil and write. Fingerplays are fun and rhythmic but they also develop the small muscles of the hand and strengthen eye-hand coordination.  Here are some fun examples:

Where is Thumpkin?  (Helps your child to move fingers independently)

 This Little Train (Helps children “walk” their fingers providing practice in using visual information from the eyes to direct hand movements)

This little train ran up the track (Walk fingers up the arm)

It went choo choo! (Tap baby’s nose)

And then it ran back (Walk fingers back down arm)

Isty Bitsy Spider (Offers practice in holding pointer finger and thumb in an open (OK) circle which children will need to hold pencils or crayons successfully.

Also, when children hold hands and fingers up in front of their bodies for fingerplays, they usually bend the wrists back. This is a position that allows them to move their fingers freely and is the best pose for writing.

Goodybye Song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (“Twinkle” fingers open and closed)

Goodbye Sign: 


friendMy Friends

timeIt’s Time


Tap Chin  With Finger  –  To Say



Ms. Mercedes



Databases for Dollars

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Clearwater Public Library System offers numerous databases that both educate and entertain, but many of our teens and children were unfamiliar with these essential databases. We created a contest to promote them. Each week we wrote a question in three categories: elementary, middle, and adult. The questions focused on a different theme each week from catalog fluency to educational databases like Kids Info Bits and Student Edition K-12. Our younger patrons especially enjoyed learning Freegal and Mango. They were surprised to learn that they could download popular music they could actually keep. The teens even learned to speak Pirate on Mango- Arggg!

All ages benefited from learning Overdrive which allows patrons download books for their e-readers. Older adults especially appreciated these questions. It gave the teens an opportunity to explain Overdrive to them, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. One woman had spent hours attempting to learn the system at home, but a teen was able to give her a small tutorial of the database in just 20 minutes.

Each week we drew a contest winner from each of the three categories. The lucky patrons won a library dollar they could spend at our library’s bookstore. They loved walking out with two, three, even four books they could actually keep.

Nine-year-old Veronica with her library dollar and the two books she purchased. Veronica said she was extremely excited to win her dollar. She was amazed that she wouldn’t have to return her books!


Another winner, Zech, said he was really happy to win the contest. He anxiously awaited the contest results each week until he finally won his coveted dollar.

The Wild Things Are Coming!

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Our upcoming Showtime with the Dascaloja Puppeteers

will feature the much loved story

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

performed from a fresh new script we just wrote this summer.

Click on the title above to reserve a copy right now.


That’s Max and the Monsters playing

“Wild Thing” by the Troggs at their wild rumpus party!

You’ll get to hear them play it too when you come to the show on

THURSDAY, 24 JULY 2014 at 10:30am.


The Puppeteers couldn’t let the puppets have all the fun dances.

Here they are practicing for their dance number,

See You Later, Alligator by Bill Haley & the Comets!

Dascaloja’s Last Showtime Made It into the Paper

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Dascaloja Clearwater Gazette

This is an article that appeared in the 10 July 2014 edition of the Clearwater Gazette.