Read With Me, Twisted Tykes

Twisted Tykes – Polar Express Yoga Play

Are you looking for a way to incorporate yoga at home or in the classroom with your Tots or Tykes?

With the winter holidays upon, the options for creative movement and play are endless.

But today, I wanted to combine one of my favorite holiday movies with some yoga play. Plus I love any excuse to drink hot coco.

If you haven’t seen Polar Express yet, or if you just want a little memory refresh, or to snuggle up with your big, little, or fur babies, you can rent it on Amazon here.

There is also a really beautiful book of the story and some adorable jammies to help you get in the mood. Plus this especially sweet ornament if you still need another stocking-stuffer.





*To get started: Take some nice deep breaths and exhale like a train (think chh, chh, chh). You can practice making your chh’s short and quick or long, or make a pattern of short and long (chh, chh, chhhhhhhh).





*We also took some time to create a seated train, getting our arms and shoulder in on the action, circling through like the wheels of a train.

If you live somewhere chilly, you can also use your breath to fog up the windows or a mirror.





*Train Tunnel

One of my very favorite things to do with a group of Tykes is to make a Down Dog Tunnel.
Have everyone line up their Downward Facing Dog poses and let each little take a turn crawling through on their hands and knees or on their bellies.
To get into Downward Dog, start on hands and knees like a table top, then press into your hands and your feet and lift your tail into the air.
This one is always a crowd favorite and most will love to play over and over again, each taking multiple turns crawling through.
This is another great spot to throw in those train breaths. Let each student make up their own pattern as they go through, or have the group work together to create train sounds when they are the tunnel.





*Bridge Pose

Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Then press into your feet and lift your belly to the sky.
Practice raising and lowering the bridge or lifting one leg at a time while your hips are high.




I love any excuse for a partner pose.


*Train Station

This is a fun partner pose. Have your Tykes stand facing each other about an arm’s length away from each other (or have you can kneel if you are playing with your little) and reach your arms way to the sky.
Without moving your feet, bring your arms together until your hands touch.
See if you can press equally into each other’s hands so no one moves.
If you want a little more fun, see if you can lean into each other and practice balancing together.





*Chair Pose

Stand tall with your feet apart and pretend you are sitting back into your seat on the train.
Practice stretching and waving to get your hot coco.




The girls loved this one, we must have had 6 or 7 cups of imaginary coco. =)


*Hot Coco Breaths

Take a moment to sip your imaginary hot coco.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and notice how delicious it smells.
Notice how warm it is and blow on it slowly to cool it off.
Take small, sipping breaths and notice how it warms you up.




Balance can a be hard here, so be careful.
Moving back and forth between sides is great for brain development!


*Gate Pose

From a kneeling position, reach one leg out long to the side.
Place your opposite hand on the mat in line with your knees and reach up and over your ear.
Practice opening and closing your gate resting your hand on your leg and reaching over your head with the opposite arm.
Practice with a partner and see if you can move back and forth between open and closed.
If you have a group, the rest of the students could form a train and travel trough the open gates.




How lovely are your branches.


*Christmas Tree

Take a tradition Tree Pose, by standing on one foot and opening your lifted knee out wide, then ask your students to make their hands into a star on top of the tree and blink their eyes like lights.

If you are feeling festive, ask everyone to join in for a round of “Oh Christmas Tree” .





*Jack – in – the – Box

Squat down low and practice jumping as high as you can.
Balance on your toes and let your body circle and bounce like you are on a spring.




Shake your head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and sway your upper body.


*Ringing Bells

Take a nice deep forward fold, then cross your arms and let your upper body sway like the inside of a bell.
Bonus points and you can making ringing and dinging sounds while you are upside down.




Ask what Peace means to them, I love hearing their answers to questions like this.


*Peace Pose

Find sukasana or easy seated pose (criss – cross applesauce).
Bring your hands to your heart and close your eyes.
Take 5 deep breaths and think about something that makes you feel calm and happy.







*Hot Coco!
We finished out our practice with some delicious (and real) hot coco and marshmallows. I let the Tykes count and sort their own marshmallows and asked them to drop them in one at a time and notice how they moved and bounced. Then we took a minute to tune into our senses, smelling the chocolate, feeling the warm cups, listening to our own breathing and giggling, seeing the swirls and bubbles in our coco, and finally tasting how yummy it was.






Such fun with these sweeties!

We had such a good time with our Polar Express Yoga! Let me know how it goes when you try it with your Tykes and Tots!



Also, what other kinds of holiday cheer are you infusing into your yoga practice this month?
I love allowing my practice to tune in with the world around me and I love hearing your ideas and insights!





I can’t forget the outtakes of this photo shoot!
We had such silly fun! But let me tell you, trying to get 5 Tykes under the age of 6 to cooperate for pictures was a little like herding cats. Fortunately, I love cats!



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Read With Me, Twisted Tykes

Twisted Tykes – Halloween Lesson Plans




Are you looking for a way to incorporate yoga at home or in the classroom with your Tots or Tykes?

With Halloween just around the corner, the options for creative movement and play are endless!

Here is a little inspiration for poses, activities, and play to get you started.




*Deep Belly Breaths and chanting “Boo” or making Ghost “OoOoOo’s”
-This is such a fun way to introduce chanting and breath work to littles. They will have so much fun pretending to be ghosts and you can always challenge them to try it several times being very loud or very quiet, to say it slow or fast, and to play with silly voices.





*Black Cat – Cat Pose
On hands and knees, tuck your head and your belly and make your back arch like a scared cat. Then try it again and HISS when you arch your back.





*Frog Pose
Squat down with your knees and feet wide, place your hands on the floor.
Practice jumping like a frog and catching flies with your tongue.




*Flying Witch
Sit back into Chair Pose and pick up one set of toes behind you to be the end of your broom. Hold your hands in front to be the front of your broom stick. Then practice flying high and low by bending and straightening your standing leg. Feel free to throw in a couple of Wicked Witch laughs!




Sit down with your feet and knees together and bring your hands to your head to make a pumpkin stem. Then make your silliest Jack-o-lantern faces.





*Windy Trees
Stand tall on your feet and bring one foot to your ankle or your calve. See how bent and spooky you can make your arms look. Then blow in the wind. Feel free to make scary faces and sounds as you sway.





*Marching Mummies
Start at the back of your mat and reach your arms out long, then see if you can walk all the way across your mat without bending your knees. (or running into your sister)




*Googly Eyes and Floating Heads
Make your feet extra wide then bend over to touch the floor with your hands. With your head upside down, make silly faces at the person behind you.
-Disclaimer: This one might be everyone’s new favorite pose, and I’m sorry if your Tykes begin doing it in public or to high ranking officials.







*Moon Poses
-Make your body very round like a big full moon.

-Practice Half Moon Balance by standing with your booty to the wall then tipping over until you have your back against the wall and one hand and one foot on the floor. Let your other and and foot stretch long and far away.

-Stand up straight and tall and reach your arms up over head, then tip to the right and the left to make your body shape like a Crescent Moon (or like a C)




*Flying Bats
Come into Airplane Balance by leaning forward and stretching one leg long behind you. Then bring your arms out to be bat wings and make big slow flaps.

You can also practice Shoulder Stand by laying on your back and then sending your legs and booty up to the ceiling, see if you can make a straight line and pretend to be a bat sleeping upside down.






*Spooky Spiders
Start by making your hands walk like a spider. See if you can move one finger at a time and “take steps” with your hands.

Then come into Reverse Table Top or Crab Pose. Lift your belly as high as you can to the ceiling and see if you can walk forwards and backwards.

We even had a nice round of Itsy Bitsy Spider, to practice fine motor skills.




*Pumpkin Breath
We used pumpkins, but you can use any small object. Lay on your back and place your pumpkin on your belly, just above your belly button. Then take slow and deep breaths and watch your pumpkin rise and fall. See how focused and calm you can be to keep it balanced.




*Skeleton Bones
Take some time for relaxation by laying on your back with your arms and legs out. Then imagine yourself as a skeleton. Picture your bones and see if you can feel them inside of you. Imagine each one from your toes to your nose and see if you can count them all.





Of course there are a million more ways to incorporate yoga and creative movement into your Halloween fun.


What are some of the ways you are practicing and playing this month?



**I’d like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to my dear friend for letting me borrow her time, talent, living room, and daughters, and for making these beautiful photos happen.

And for anyone who thinks photographing Tykes and Tots is easy, I submit these outtakes for your viewing pleasure.


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**Side note: It totally is easy and fun and I’d love to see all of your silly photos with your favorite little one.


(I got our witch hat headbands at Target, but there are some really cute ones here.)








Twisted Tykes

Twisted Tykes Opening and Closing Ritual

Ritual is so very important all the time, but especially in youth classes.


“Rituals provide predictability and reliability, which translates to a feeling of safety and security for young children. These routines support emotional regulation as the child navigates everyday challenging events”  – Debra Pierce


It’s all about repetition and structure. When a child knows what will happen at certain times, they gains a sense of control over the situation…. And in this world, there is an awful lot that is outside of our control.
Without the routine, things are wide open and without bounds- too much of the unknown for a small child to handle. A ritual provides narrower boundaries and fewer choices allowing us to stretch our minds and bodies in new ways within the safety of structure.





Here is a little taste of the Opening Ritual we have developed and curated in Twisted Tykes over the last year. Of course, classes are living organisms and things need to adapt and change over time. But for now, this is what we are up too.



I like to have a pre-class activity for every class, when you are dealing with toddlers and young kids, it’s pretty difficult to get everyone started on time and I think it’s good to have an activity that transitions them into class. Usually we color or play with sensory bottles, but sometimes I will have balloons or party blowers or feathers for us to practice breathing techniques. I try to keep this transition activity pretty low-key, something people can join into as they arrive and that isn’t disturbed if 3 kids need to run to the potty or don’t want to say goodbye to mom just yet.
Usually I have this set up and ready to go before anyone even walks in the door and we go on until everyone has arrived and settled in, and if that is taking a while, I wrap it up about 5 minutes after the class start time.




After that we take a moment to share whatever it is we have created or practiced or noticed, then we clean up what ever messed we’ve made, get a drink of water, and head to our mats.
Again, because we’ve set up our rituals and routines, everyone is happy to transition because they know whats coming next.

Our Singing Bowl!

This is without a doubt everyone’s favorite thing. And they know they can’t get a turn until they are in Easy Seated Pose and one their mat, so it’s great for calling everyone’s attention. At this point, I don’t even have to use words, as soon as I pick it up they are quiet and still. Everyone gets a chance to ring the bowl and as they do they say their name and age and answer the question of the day. I usually have the question relate to the theme for our class to help get their little minds moving in the right direction and after they’ve all answered we use our bodies to create poses or movement based on their answers.


I just got a new singing bowl from Amazon and I love it! 



After that, we warm up, tackle our activities for the day, and then take some time for quiet rest and mindful meditation. (I’m always amazed at how much we can achieve and how much fun we can have in such a short amount of time.)

Once we have achieved all of that, we finish each class with a very similar Closing Ritual. 

I bust our Singing Bowl  back out and we go backwards around the circle taking turns ringing the bowl. This time they remember and reflect on what they liked most about class that day, what they felt really successful doing in class that day, or something they did that helped make our class better.
After we have all had a turn, we sing our Namaste Song to say goodbye and to signal that class is over. When we’ve finished singing, students are free to begin getting all of their things together while I open the door for parents. When their mat is rolled up and their shoes are on, they get a sticker and hug or high-five good bye (their choice).


The ritual of our singing bowl and how we start and end class each week has really helped us all have the best experience we can. It offers a safe and fun way to transitions our mind and bodies from the outside world into our space and makes sure we are ready learn and grow.


Of course, literally everything can become a sacred ritual to you and your family whether it is pizza on Friday nights, books before bed time, singing a special song when you get in the car, or celebrating Taco Tuesday with your girlfriends. Aside from helping create a special memories, and a safe learning environment, it also helps manage clear expectations and offers you and your little one freedom within the structure.


What are some of your favorite rituals and routines you’ve created in your home or classroom? I’d love to hear all about them so leave a comment or shoot me a message.


Twisted Tykes

Tykes Take Summer – Camp Week 2

Week 2!
We had so many new friends this week!

It was really fun to introduce new families to our class and I was so glad to see the school year students step up and be leaders, helping everyone through out the week.

Just like last week, each day I tried to keep the same basic structure, with the theme or specific activities changing each day.

*Opening Ritual
*Warm up – Voice, Breath, Body, and Mind
*Pose of the Day

(^^Most days we only had time to get to 2 out of 3 of these so I’d try to gauge which would give us the most bang for our buck, or think of a way to combine elements of each into a new activity.)

*Closing Ritual


And again, just like last week, We didn’t get to everything every day. Some lessons crashed and burned and others took off in ways I didn’t expect. This week taught me a lot, maybe even more than the kids.

Here are some of our favorite moments of our fabulous 10 hours.





Our Sensory Bottles are such a great way to start the class, they let us practice focus and observation and stretching our imaginations.



Day 1

The pose of the day was Mountain Pose. I love teaching this pose early and talking about how it looks so easy, but sometimes poses that are still and steady can be very hard.
We learned it on our own, and used our imaginations to see as far as we could off the top of our Mountains. Everyone saw such beautiful things like eagles, snow, their homes, pets, and even dragons!
Then we practiced with partners, standing back to back and feeling each others breath, and using each other to find steady feet and balance.



After that we read the book This is Not A Stick and practiced all the ways we could use our body to slay dragons, lead parades, and paint pictures. Then we colored our own “Not a Stick’s” to be whatever we wanted and everyone demonstrated how to use their new favorite toy.
This is one of my very favorite books to use in class, the kid’s always have such vivid imaginations when they get to make up their own use for the sticks.

Mine became a magic wand that helped anyone feeling grumpy or sad find happiness and giggles.



Day 2

The pose of the day was Boat Pose and everyone did such a good job learning and balancing in this pose on their own and working with partners. I love taking this pose and seeing if we can hold it the whole time we sing Row Row Row Your Boat and adding our arms pretending to row.

I love seeing the pride and happiness on their faces once they are able to balance with and help support their partners.


After making origami boats, we read Where the Wild Things Are and let our beautiful origami boats sail “through a day, in and out of a week, and over a year” before having our very own Wild Rumpus!



Day 3

Our pose of the day was Bow Pose and with so many girls in the class, I had a hard time convincing everyone that a Bow could be something besides what you wear on your head.

But everyone did a great job and really threw themselves into trying this pose. It can be hard for a little one to take movement that involves their back body so heavily because it’s harder to develop a sense of spacial awareness to the parts of your body you can’t see. But these tykes all did such a great job!



This pose can be so wiggly and fun, but the real challenge is to find stillness between your ribs and hips.

We even tried to balance while keeping our forehead attached to a partners, this created a lot of giggles, but everyone was able to stay balanced on their bellies.



I also love that this partner pose also helps them work on eye contact and trust.


After that it was time to work on our motor skills and color with our Toes!

We practiced making circles, hearts, and writing our names. Then I let them draw whatever they wanted. Once all the pictures were done, I asked them to make up a story based on their pictures and share it with the class.







Day 4

Today’s pose was Star Pose and everyone did such a good job balancing on their own! Working in partners was a little trickier, but everyone tried their best and no one quit which I was so proud of. Once we tried the pose solo and duo, I asked them to make up their own version and make their body look like a star any way they wanted! We had some pretty creative ideas and lots of giggles along the way.



I love letting them explore their movement on their own terms.


For our craft today, we made our own shooting stars by coloring cardboard star cut outs and paint stir sticks and gluing them with streamers and sparkles. Everyone loved being able to see them fly through the air and taking time to make a wish on our stars.





Day 5

Our very last day of camp for  Summer 2017!

The pose of the day was Half Moon Balance!

Everyone always loves this one because you get to balance on one foot and be upside down! This is a great one to learn after Star Pose, because you can easily transition from one to the other. We worked on it against the wall for a little support and they were rock stars at it!



Then we played with our brand new Yoga Spinner Game and learned so many new poses like Plow, King Cobra, Triangle, and Wide Legged Forward Bend. Before the game started we had a chat about patience and waiting your turn and it was amazing to see everyone’s self control and focus as they watched and cheered on each of their friends during everyone else’s turns.






It was such an adventurous week for everyone and I can’t believe we are already done with classes for the summer.
We had so much fun this week, and I can’t wait to see all of our new friends at parties and classes during the school year!

Let me know what your favorite books, games, crafts, and poses were from this summer. What did your Tyke talk about most on the drive home?



Twisted Tykes

Tykes Take Summer – Camp Week 1

Goodness this was a big week!

(In fact, I tried to write a full post of my lesson plans for the whole week and it was WAY too long. I don’t expect anyone to put up with me for that long, so instead you get the highlights.)


Since this was my very first Yoga Summer Camp to produce, I was a little nervous. But honestly everything ran smoothly and we all had a lovely time.

I tried to keep the same basic structure, with the theme or specific activities changing each day.

*Opening Ritual
*Warm up – Voice, Breath, Body, and Mind
*Pose of the Day

(^^Most days we only had time to get to 2 out of 3 of these so I’d try to gauge which would give us the most bang for our buck, or think of a way to combine elements of each into a new activity.)

*Closing Ritual
This helped everything go much more smoothly for myself and for the Tykes. This way they knew what to expect when and transition times happened a lot smoother. Also, this helps me modify lesson plans as needed while making sure that  we are still reaching our objectives.

Once again, my lesson plans are always fluid. I don’t think we completed everything I had planned on any day, but that is OK. I’d always rather have too much planned than too little.


Anyway, these were some of our favorite moments from our very short 10 hours together.


Ringing the singing bowl at the beginning and ending of class is always a crowd pleaser, and lets everyone know its time jump into class.



Day 1

We learned Swan Pose as our Pose of the Day and everyone did such a great job. We practiced it on our own, then added our Swan wings flapping and then head and neck diving down. Once everyone was comfortable in the pose, we got into partners and practiced Double Swan. This not only helped us practice balance, working together, and trust, but it also gave us an awareness of our back bodies and spacial relationships.



flapping our wings like a tall, graceful, swan


team work intensifies our stretch


After that we learned how to make origami swans. The Tykes were super into this. Everyone made at least 4 of all colors and sizes and then even came up the the idea of coloring their swans a pond or home – which of course I was all for.
We laid down with our swans balanced on our bellies and practiced taking deep breaths and watched our swans floating on the waves. I was so impressed with these Tykes and their ability to focus and to try something new.

Check out a super easy tutorial on how to make these here.


Belly breaths are easier with friends.




Day 2
This day was all about BALLOONS!

The pose of the day today was Child’s Pose. We learned it on our own, then practiced with partners using stillness and movement, then I even came around and offered gentle pressure and massage as they rested.
This is one of my favorite techniques to help little’s who are getting overwhelmed or anxious. Have them come into child’s pose, then using your palms, press gently into their sacrum or low spine- right about hip level (under the ribs and above the tailbone). If your little one isn’t ticklish, you can walk your palms up and down their spine, moving slowing and deliberately, offering pressure in one spot for a round of breath or two.

This is such a calming pose and taking it with a partner builds trust and connection.


After Balasana, it was time for BALLOONS! We used our very strong and steady breaths to blow up our balloons as big as we could! As students finished, we took a little bit of time for free play to get our bodies and imaginations moving.



After a few minutes of that, we came back to our mats and tried to balance our balloons on our heads, noses, ears, knees, toes, belly, ect. We tried each body part sitting, standing, and laying down. This created all kinds of fun shapes and let us practice lots of focus and thinking outside the box.

Balancing the balloon on your toes was definitely everyone’s favorite.


View from above.



Day 3

Our pose of the Day was L-Dogs, or Supported Handstands, and they could not get enough. We could have just done this for the whole 2 hours and I wouldn’t have heard one peep of complaint. (In fact, they were so excited, I added them in to our warm up for the rest of the week.) We learned how to move from Down Dog into walking our feet up the wall to make an upside down “L” with our bodies. Once everyone felt safe and secure in the pose we started an L-Dog tunnel where one at a time you could crawl on your belly under the rest of the class. We played it leap frog style, so once you went through you added on to the end of the tunnel and the next student went. We were able to span an entire wall from one side to the next this way, these kids have stamina!

These guys were fearless, ready to get upside down at a moments notice.



After all that work, we needed a little rest for our bodies so we decided to stretch our minds by doing a Group Drawing activity. I taped some butcher paper on the wall and explained the rules.
*Everyone can add 1 thing to the picture at a time
*We can only add, not take away
*There are no wrong choices
For our first drawing I chose the theme, we were drawing a park. No one had played this before, so I wanted to give them something a little more concrete as a reference point. We had so many incredible things added in our park, a hill for rolling down, a swing set, a slide, children picking flowers, a merry go round, bouncy duck, and even a beautiful sun and clouds.
This can be a hard activity for some to start because everyone so desperately wants to share their own ideas. So we talked a lot about how in this game we think a little more about appreciating everyone else’s ideas, our goal is to help, to make everyone’s idea better, not to prove your’s is the best.

Once we all agreed our park was finished, I decided we could handle something a little more abstract. It was time to draw our Twisted Monster. This time our rules got a little tougher.
*If you pick your crayon up off the paper, your turn is done
*You can’t say out loud what you think you are adding
This always gets a little squirrel-y, because someone might think they are drawing an eye and the next student turns it into a belly button, but I think that is what is fun about this activity- everyone sees the same things differently. I was very impressed with how quickly these students jumped on board with this concept. We even had a few students form an alliance and work together to draw things that would require multiple colors or having to pick up your crayon.

I’m calling Leslie Knope right now to begin getting this park built.
Twisted Monsters have bows and you can see their voices when they sing.




Day 4

Our Pose of the Day was Spinal Twist, and we learned it in all kinds of ways, standing, seated, laying down, with partners, and in a circle as a class.

Eye contact always helps with partner poses.


For our craft today, we created Balancing Butterflies, I had cardboard cut outs of butterflies for everyone to color and design, then we practiced balancing them on our fingers and even our noses!

Can you guess which one is mine?
We learned this takes some series skill and breath control not to let it fall.


This lead perfectly into our Relaxation, where we rolled up in our mats and I led us through a guided imagery of being a Caterpillar, building your cocoon, and then emerging as a beautiful butterfly and spending your day flying through the air and visiting flowers of all kinds.



Day 5

Our last day of the week!

We learned Eagle Pose and practiced it with just arms, just legs, our whole body, and then moving from Eagle to Airplane. This is an extra twisted up pose with lots of strength and balance and these kids did a great job!

But honestly, everyone’s favorite part of the day was TWISTER!


We played so many rounds. Then we used the Twister board to teach certain poses. (ie: If you put one hand on red and one on blue and one foot on red and one on blue you are in plank, if you lift your bottom up, you are in Downward Dog.) I taught a few and then asked them to teach a few. (I love offering the kids a chance to be leaders and use their voices and bodies to communicate an idea.)
Then asked a few riddles like “Are their any poses you can do all on one color?” (Yup! Warrior 2!)


And in no time at all, our week was done.

We really had a great time and I loved getting to spend a few extra hours with each of these Tyke’s sweet, smiling faces.

Check out next week’s blog for the highlights of Week 2!