Today, let’s talk about using kids yoga props to capture the attention of the children in your yoga classes!
But first, I would love to share my experience teaching beginner figure skating when I was younger. For some classes that needed a little extra zing, I brought in colorful scarves, multi-colored bean bags, a tambourine, and pylons to enhance the learning experience. We used scarves for interpretive ice dancing and placed bean bags on their hands and shoulders for balance. It worked like magic for those children who were a little reluctant, shy, or nervous. They began to open up and take risks in their skating by using the props in different ways.
In this way, props are also an excellent way to engage children in this ancient practice of yoga through play and visual appeal. Many children come to our classes in all states of mind – whether they are tired, over-stimulated, bored, not wanting to be there (their parent’s choice, not theirs), or on the positive side, they love to express their creativity and imagination.
Kids yoga props can be used to help balance and focus (bean bags) or create a spatial structure in the class (yoga dots), or a gentle sound can bring the class back to the community circle (chime). The sky’s the limit in terms of fun props that you can use, but hopefully this list below will help inspire you!
Some things to consider when introducing kids yoga props:
- Ensure that you have built a strong foundation in your class (for example, you know all of the children’s names, you have set up a predictable ritual for the beginning of class, and everyone knows the expectations for behavior) before introducing props.
- Choose props that you particularly love, and the children will feed off your enthusiasm. You’ll most likely get more back if you’re excited and light-hearted about the props.
- Pick one or two props to experiment with at first before adding others.
- If you don’t feel like the particular prop was effective the first time, put it away and try again another time. Don’t toss it away yet.
- Explain how you are going to use the props before you hand them out. You might even ask for a responsible volunteer to help you hand out the props to the class.
- Before investing lots of money into props, try using things that you have around the house to see how it works in your class.
- Take a moment to get in tune with the children to see what their needs and interests are and think mindfully about which props might be the best fit.
- Have your own plan of how you’ll utilize the props in class, but be open to suggestions from your students. Using your beginner’s mind will allow them to take ownership of the class, and you just might be amazed by what they come up with.
- Praise students who are using the props appropriately and those who are being kind to each other by waiting their turn.
- Think about bringing in props that reach the senses: things that children can hear, see, touch, and smell.
- Bring in props that are based on a particular theme (for example: for your jungle yoga class, bring in rainsticks, monkey puppets, jungle photos, or travel brochures.)
- Most importantly, have fun with it! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work right away. Keep going – you got this!
Best Kids Yoga Props to Help Children Engage and Focus in your Yoga Class
Here are a few options for fun kids yoga props that might help to capture the attention of your students and avoid unnecessary disruptions in your class:
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If your students are having a hard time navigating the yoga mats in your class, try using Yoga Dots instead! A yoga teacher described her class one day as being full of “baby bears rolling around in the mats” and said it was hard to get the children to focus on the group plan. It’s also easier to carry a bunch of yoga dots than lugging around yoga mats. The yoga dots take up less space, while still allowing the children to create their own “yoga space.” You could also use the yoga dots to set up various yoga games—lots of fun options to create structure, but also fun. Don’t get me wrong, yoga mats are definitely ideal, but yoga dots are a great alternative.
You may find some students just prefer to sit quietly in a calm corner while the rest of the class follows the yoga class plan. Sometimes children may not be feeling well, are tired, or are over-stimulated. Having a calm corner with a few trinkets, like mandalas for coloring and sensory tools like bubbles, is a great idea. Bubblers are a great way to explain to children how the mind (bubbles) is full of thoughts buzzing around, but if we take the time to stop, relax, and take a few deep breaths, then we can settle our thoughts (bubbles going to the bottom). Instead of bubblers, you could also make “mind jars” or use snow globes.
Scarves are extremely versatile and add a burst of color to your yoga class. Before you bring out the scarves, it is highly recommended to set expectations for the scarves and explain the intended use of these fun accessories. If you have a number of colors, use the kid-friendly language of “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset” in regards to the color of scarves. As children practice the poses, they can wave the scarves around to add extra movement and encourage them to focus on one point (the scarf). Get the children involved in creating yoga games with the scarves to evoke their imaginations.
Having a chime or bell is a great signal to bring the children back to the community circle if the class is getting distracted or off track. You could also start or finish the class with the ritual of the chime sound. Or a simple mindfulness activity is to touch the chime then listen to the sound disappear. A child could be given the job of the “chimer” to get them engaged as a community builder.
A Hoberman Sphere is a great way to introduce deep yogic breathing to children because it imitates the inflating and deflating of their lungs as they breathe. Having a visual representation of the breath is an invaluable tool to encourage children to inhale and exhale deeply. The Hoberman sphere could be passed around the group or placed in the calm corner to be played with individually.
Try various Jenga-style games to add fun and focus to your yoga pose games. You could write or draw on a Jenga Classic Game. Or try this numbered Jenga game by putting a sticky note with a corresponding number on a yoga card. Once you pull that number, look for the number attached to a yoga pose card, then practice that pose. Children could play that game in the calm corner in pairs. Whereas if you’re looking for a group game, then you could place a number block plus a yoga pose card around the room or give to each child.
Bean Bags are another great tool to help children focus. Place the bean bags on their bellies as they lie on their backs, practicing deep belly breathing. They could place bean bags on their heads, hands, or shoulders as they work through balancing postures. For children who are a little distracted or anxious, having something to focus on just might be the thing to get them back on track.
Other Fun Goodies to Use as Kids Yoga Props
Feathers – easy idea to practice breath work by blowing the feather.
Pom-poms – could be used to play toe-ga (pick up pom-poms with your toes) or practicing breath work by blowing pom-poms.
Straws – great for practicing breath work by blowing pom-poms or other light items through a straw.
Parachute – are a great community builder if you’ve got the space.
Puppets – fun way to engage children by presenting the class expectations or plan through a puppet.
Egg shakers – any kind of fun musical instrument like shakers, tambourines, or mini-drums are an awesome way to cater to your auditory learners.
Tea lights – battery-operated color changing tea lights are a lovely way to bring light to your class in a safe way. You could place the light in the middle of the circle and ask the students to take a deep breath and look at the light for a mindful moment.
Other ideas: eye pillows, balls, straps, blocks, blankets, stuffed animals, hula hoops, and other craft supplies.
What are some of your favorite kids yoga props? We’d love to hear in the comments below!