Walk into Toddler Room 5 and be prepared for the wildlife. No, not because the toddlers are running wild. In fact, it's quite the opposite: toddlers are learning to mimic animals they've been learning about since the start of the year through yoga poses.
In the fall, the Room 5 toddlers were introduced to safari animals, and focused on learning to control their breath. First they learned what Toddler lead teacher Lynda Coan calls "lion's breath" - breathing out like a lion's roar. Then they learned counting breath: breathing in, the children use their fingers to count to five, and repeat the process breathing out.
"The goal of the process is self-regulation," Lynda explained. "They can control their minds, control their bodies and control their breath."
Lynda adds that teaching toddlers self-regulation is one of the most important lessons to prepare them to move up to the Primary Program.
Once the toddlers were familiar with lion's breath, they were introduced to the concept of quiet, using the book "Quiet," by Tomie dePaola. As they begin the new year, they will start learning yoga poses based on their upcoming study of arctic animals. From a selection of books about arctic animals, the toddlers will learn which animals hibernate, migrate and adapt during the winter months. They will learn specific yoga poses to represent the arctic animals they learn about - including the arctic fox, arctic seal, caribou, husky, polar bear, puffin and snowy owl - and use these poses as they retell the stories. These poses also provide an introduction to the art of tableau - a theater technique in which actors use their bodies to create frozen pictures of different scenes.
"Using tableau in a toddler classroom is a good way to build body awareness and control of movement," Lynda said.
Lynda plans to ask some of the older children to take this tableau exercise one step further by creating their own poses to represent other animals, artwork and stories. Reinforcing concepts through movement is one way teachers at WMS are integrating the arts to help children more fully engage in lessons. Across all levels, you can find art forms woven into traditional lessons - it's part of our school's commitment to arts integration.