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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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.

Namaste!

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

*Game
*Craft
*Book
(^^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.)

*Relaxation
*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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

*Game
*Craft
*Book
(^^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.)

*Relaxation
*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.

 

 

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flapping our wings like a tall, graceful, swan

 

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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.

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

 

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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!

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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.

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I’m calling Leslie Knope right now to begin getting this park built.
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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.

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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!

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Can you guess which one is mine?
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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!

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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!

 

 

Twisted Tykes

1 year with the Tykes

I cannot believe that I’ve been running Twisted Tykes in South East Texas for over a year now. This Family and Youth Yoga program combines some of my favorite work; imaginative play, creativity, working with kids and families, yoga, and building a new generation of fabulous, brave, and kind little humans. I feel so lucky to have families that are sharing this journey with me and willing to trust me with their favorite Tykes and Tots.

There are so many benefits to teaching yoga to children of all ages.
*It teaches self regulation
*Helps with behavioral disorders
*Increases circulation
*Practices crossing the mid-line
*Strengthens imagination and creative play
*Reduces stress
*Increases balance and concentration
Plus, yoga improves strength, flexibility, digestion, fine motor skills, and sleep patterns.
And it helps develop self expression and self confidence.
(By the way it also does all of these things for adults).

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In my time as a teaching artist and educator, I have been lucky enough to work with youth of all ages.
I spent my high school years working in a day care in the infant room.
Then through college I taught Pre-school Theatre Classes and directed such Critically Acclaimed productions as //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=elodyutleroga-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1442412879&asins=1442412879&linkId=e84e0aba0f7fca86450ad645e7346c1a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Olivia Saves the Circus and //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=elodyutleroga-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0060245867&asins=0060245867&linkId=62d883de3992bee316b9de6808417f6b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>If You Give A Mouse A Cookie (we got very good reviews).
After college I worked for the Coterie Theatre and taught every age group from Early Childhood to our Teen Master Class Program.
I have worked in Middle School Special Education where I lead the Yoga Club and secretly taught the kids pranayama techniques without telling them that’s what they were doing.
I was a full time Nanny for 3 years and I pride myself on being the best aunt in the world.
Children and Families have always been a part of my journey.
But this past year, running Twisted Tykes, is the first time I’ve ever developed and produced any kind of programming 100% on my own.
There were some moments where I felt tired or overwhelmed, but most of the time everything to do with Tykes has felt natural and easy. I feel confident and calm as I teach, lesson plan, reserve spaces, plan special events, create goals, market, search for partnerships, and develop relationships with the families in my community.
I know what I’m doing here. And that feels so good.

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Now this does not mean that I do everything right every time or that I am done learning. But honestly, I’m glad that I don’t and that I’m not. I have so much gratitude for where I am, and so much gratitude for the fact that I know there is more out there, more to learn and see and create. And I have complete belief in myself that one day I will remember to ask every single student if they’ve gone to the bathroom before class starts. (This is not actually a realistic goal…)

But until then I would like to say Thank You! Thank you to everyone who has ever trusted me with your children, to everyone who has ever liked a #classquote or shared a class announcement, who has ever listened patiently while I went on and on about the importance of free-play in a child’s mental development, and to every single youth who has put up with me asking them to take deep breaths or get a drink of water or pretend to float in space like an astronaut.

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I cannot wait for another year with you all! I’m looking forward to so many more memories, silly stories, and new friends!

Twisted Tykes

Twisted Tykes 1st Birthday Party

This was one of my favorite classes to teach this year, so it was really fitting that it was for our 1st Birthday Celebration!

I want to preface this by saying the lesson plan I wrote for class is only about 60% of what we actually got done and that is totally OK. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from teaching children is that you have to be willing to throw the lesson plan out the window. It means a lot to me to be able to listen to and observe the kid’s and make changes as we go based on what is working and what isn’t. I still always write out plans for my kid’s classes, but I go into every class knowing they might never happen.

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I always like to have a little Pre-class / transition activity going as students arrive, so today we were making Birthday Cards for Twisted Tykes. These kids really blew me away with the fun and silly cards they made. (They always do)

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We had a big class there to celebrate- so by the time everyone went to the bathroom, took off their shoes, rolled out their mats, said “Hi” to all their friends, made a card and cleaned up it was about 10 minutes after the start of class. This is not a big deal at all. Everyone was engaged and having a good time and I really do love to see kids getting a chance to breath and settle in instead of rushing around all the time.

Once we made it back to our mats and found our Easy Pose , it was time for our Opening Ritual. I like to keep the same structure for the start of class each time with small changes to enforce or introduce the theme or plan for the day.
We went around the circle and everyone got a chance to ring our Yoga Chimes, as they do this everyone introduces them selves in their Loud and Proud voice.
Then we checked in about Birthdays and chanted YAY!
After chanting comes breath work, where we practiced blowing out our candles.

I must admit that by the time we finished our Pranayama, I looked at the clock and was in shock of how much time had passed, so I decided to skip our warm up (Which would have been talking about the sun and how it circles the earth in 365 days between every birthday, then stretching as the rays of the sun, spinning in circles, and a few rounds of Sun Salutations) and instead, head straight to the good stuff!

We all agreed that one of the very best things about birthdays is of course, Birthday Cake! So we set out to make the biggest and most delicious birthday cake we could think of!
Everyone needed a big bowl, so we sat in Bound Angle Pose or Supta Bodha Konasana and used our arms to begin mixing in each ingredient. We went around the circle and everyone got to add something. These kids were totally unafraid of exciting flavor combos and we had everything from Gold Fish to whole banana splits thrown in. Once everything was mixed in, we practiced some partner poses to to bake and decorate our cakes.

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Once everything had been decorated to a T, we cut this giant cake by laying on our backs and scissoring our legs in the air. Then came everyone’s favorite new pose, Birthday Candle Pose! (Or better known in some circles as Shoulder Stand).

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We moved into Shoulder Stand  and let our toes flicker like the flame, then taking a deep breath in we would blow our feet back down to the ground. Now we did this 4 or 5 times, but I promise, they could have just done this for an hour and had a grand ole’ time.

After the candles had been blown out and all our wishes had been made, it was time to eat! We sat in Wide Legged Pose to look like a slice of cake and practiced eating with our hands and with our toes (My kid’s yoga take on Archer I Pose).

By then we (or at least I) was pooped and ready to rest and digest. So we circled in nice and tight to create a little massage circle.
Giving the cue of having everyone’s knees touch is a great visual to get the circle as small as you need, then with a hand on each of their neighbors backs I asked them to draw hearts and balloons and to write “Happy Birthday” and sign their names with their fingers.

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This was such a sweet moment and I loved watching the kids find that connection and trust in their neighbors. We had a few tickles and giggles, but over all everyone felt safe and secure and we got a little fine motor skill work in trying to draw or write on something you can’t see and with both hands at the same time.

 

With just a few minutes left, we were ready for our Special Birthday Surprise…
A brand new game of Twister and some delicious strawberries, blueberries, and grapes.

Everyone lined up for a snack then sat on their mats to eat, while they were eating we took turns playing Twister 5 or so at a time. Once everyone had a turn they could jump in for a SUPER GAME as they finished their fruit.
Seeing 11 of these tiny people squished onto a 5X6 mat was pretty comical, but everyone was safe with their bodies and respectful of their friends so it all turned out just fine. (We had one set of tears, but it was nothing that couldn’t be solved by a hug and an extra strawberry.)

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As always, we finished class with 10 deep breaths and our Namaste Song and everyone getting a sticker (which I’m really thinking about starting to incorporate in my adult classes).

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I cannot wait for next year’s birthday party!

But until then, I get to host our very first Twisted Tykes Summer Camp!
(That and go to GREECE!)
Check out the events for each week of camp here!
Week 1 June 5th – 19th
Week 2 June 12-16th

And then take a peak at my Summer Camp Blogs here and here!