Saturday, 22 February 2014


Over the holidays, one of the books that I read was Focus by Daniel Goleman. I was looking forward to this because his book Emotional Intelligence was excellent.   I was also interested in Focus because of the classroom implications. 
Edutopia has a nice article and a video playlist of the key ideas from the book. This video, on Breathing Buddies really got me thinking about how I might be able to utilize this with my students.

I started sewing up these Breathing Buddies for students to use, and then I realized that it would be SO much better if students sewed their own. Afterall, sewing a button is a good skill for everyone to have----- plus students would probably be more engaged when creating their own buddies.

We started by learning how to thread a needle and sew ------ up and down, up and down ------ on a paper plate. 

Students then drew a circle, rectangle and triangle pattern on a paper plate and sewed around the perimeter of each shape (a math connection). Next, students chose their felt colour(s) and the buttons that would make the cutest, strangest or scariest face depending on student preference. After making choices, it was time to sew on the button eyes. Threading the needle and sewing on the paper plate had been great practice for students.

There was some frustration - and that was ok! We were discussing strategies that we could use when we get frustrated. We talked about how anger, sadness, frustration, fear and joy were all normal emotions. We also had discussions about how we don't always make the best decisions when we are angry or frustrated, so we all have to have strategies to help us calm down.

Here are some of the Breathing Buddies or Calming Creatures as some students named them. The idea is to put the buddy on your belly and take a slow breath that is big enough to inflate your belly like a balloon so the buddy rises up - then you slowly breathe out so the buddy doesn't fall off your belly. After your buddy rises and falls 5-10 times, we all decided that we felt more calm and relaxed.


apologies about the misalignment of the pictures....something is not working correctly :(


  1. Love your breathing buddies, what an excellent way to integrate attention to the "whole child"! Thanks for sharing your journey with this. I'm curious: Do you have "before and after" data? How significant a difference has the breathing made in your class (and how often do you do it)? How do you encourage reluctant learners?

    1. Thanks for commenting Alex, I don't have specific data on the before and after. When I ask the students, they feel calm and peacefuld afterwards. We started out with once a day as a whole class & the option for students to use a buddy whenever they felt like it throughout the day. The reluctant learners were the ones who I thought would benefit most. It was really hard for some students to get the hang of being quiet and still for even a few seconds. Overall I think it was successful and would definitely do it again.