This activity is inspired by our friend Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child. You’ll need a copy of Eric Carle’s book “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth”. In this book, the sloth moves very slowly. All of the other animals wonder why he’s so slow, so quiet, and so boring. But in the end, he defends himself against the jaguar who calls him lazy and he shares about how much he enjoys his calm, peaceful lifestyle.
Like the sloth, kids can benefit from taking some time to just be calm. Tell the kids that they’ll practice moving slowly, slowly, slowly like the sloth. Remind them that their prefrontal cortex helps them to focus, and they’ll have to use it to move slowly!
Start with a simple activity. Say, “I can move my hand over my head, slowly, slowly, slowly like a sloth. Can you?” Move your hand up and above your head in exaggerated slow motion. Have the kids mimic your movement.
Continue with other simple gestures, like moving a foot back and forth, wiggling fingers down to the floor, rocking side to side. (With small kids it is best to avoid things that require a great deal of balance, as it will be too difficult to do in slow motion and might frustrate the kids or cause them to giggle and lose focus.)
This is a great simple activity for helping kids with focus, the brain-body connection, and that difficult transition from high level anxiety to calm focus.