This question came in from a reader:
Any advice on teaching yoga to a large group of kids, 21 to be exact, with ages ranging from pre-school to 5th grade? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
Unfortunately I’ve lost track of who sent in this question so please leave a comment if it was you – especially with an update.
This is a great question because as a teacher there are a lot of challenges in a class like the one described. It’s a large group – 21 kids. But then on top of that you’ve got a huge age range. We’re talking pre-school ages who can be 2.5 to 5 years old and 5th graders who are nine or ten years old. Think of the difference in development and interest between a 2.5 year old and a ten year old.
These two situations create a challenge for most teachers.
Is it an Ongoing or Onetime Class?
What helps me decide what to do is based on do many factors, one being the type of class: Is it a regular group or a onetime affair?
If you are teaching this class on a regular basis you may want to consider setting a limit to the class size or bringing in an assistant to help you (more on that in another post).
When I teach an ongoing class I want to get to know the kids, learn their names, and discover what they like. I will choose games at the beginning for team building with the group. This will help them get to know each other and build a team spirit.
Team Building Exercise – The Human Train
Get everyone to line up together and go around the room like a human train. Depending on the size of the group you can do it single file or a double line. Go around the room and pick up passengers and let off passengers. The kids will have fun moving and working together with this activity.
Kids Yoga Name Games
There are many games to help you learn names, for me the best way is to repeat the names as often as possible till they sink in.
One name game is sitting in a circle start with the person on your left and ask them to say their name and do a movement (like stretch arms, wiggle toes, can be anything). Then the person to the left of them says their name and does a new movement, then repeats the last person’s name and movement. Then the next person does their name and movement and all the ones before.
Who’s going Last? The Teacher
I like this game with a large group especially when I put myself in the HOT SEAT of going last. It really forces me to pay attention and also gives the kids a chance to help me – which they like to do. The kids also like to help each other so I ask them not to help unless they are asked. Usually the older kids help the younger ones.
However, if the class is a onetime special event type of situation, then it is not as important to learn everyone’s name. I want to have some fun with the group, introduce yoga exercises and maybe play a game.
In A One Time Kids Yoga Class – Save The Game For The End
If this is a special occasion class that is just happening once, I would skip the part of learning names and instead play another game at the end of the class. There are so many fun games.
If you have just a short amount of time – everyone loves a freeze dance. When the music stops ask the kids to freeze in a new yoga pose each time.
If you have a longer time, you can play one of longer games depending on your time and the space available. Yoga bowling is fun. Bring a beach ball (or we play it with a big yoga ball when it is available) and have the kids become the pins. One kid bowls the ball at the kids sitting like pins. The pins can move out of the way to avoid being hit as long as they don’t stand up.
Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments.