I’d seen It Looked Like Spilled Milk listed as good book to use for teaching kids yoga so I decided to give it a try.
The book went over well with the kids. I think one of the reasons it works well is that it leaves a lot up to interpretation by the kids. The class interjected periodically when they thought the picture looked like something else entirely. You can then riff off of what students find and have them get creative with taking the shapes that they see in the pictures.
Here are some ideas for incorporating yoga with the story:
Rabbit: Try bunny breath (big inhale, three bunny sniff exhales through the nose). Take hops in a squatting position with hands up as ears and a forward bend with floppy ears (shaking head and arms). Kids can also be rabbits in a hutch (kneeling with head rounding to knees, hands on heels).
Bird: All kinds of options here. Try making bird wings with the arms and balancing on one foot with the other knee bent and foot up towards standing leg. Or fly around the room and land in airplane (warrior three) pose back on your mat. Be a squatting bird or a bird flying south (half moon pose).
Tree: Go beyond the basic tree pose and ask kids what kind of tree they’d like to be (i.e. cactus, palm, swaying tree, etc.) or what they think the tree in the picture might look like.
Ice cream cone: Start off with your ice cream cone by standing with arms out in a “V” shape. Then bring hands together and slowly scoop your ice cream as you roll down into a ball and roll all the way down to the back and then back up to your standing “V”. Make it a double or triple scoop by taking another roll. One of my students decided that she’d slowly melt down from her “V” all the way down to a puddle on the mat.
Flower: Grow up from a seed (child pose) to a flower, spreading arms out. Or take flower pose by sitting down, lifting legs and threading the arms through bent knees. Make a group flower circle by joining each of your hands in flower pose with the other flowers next to you. Practice smelling your flower by making a flower shape with the hands and taking a big breath in to smell your flower and exhale out, “Ahhhh.”
Pig: Pigs often roll around in the dirt. Roll kids up in the mat like a pig rolling in its sty. Get a curly pig’s tail by crossing the legs and coming into a laying-down spinal twist.
Birthday Cake: Bake a cake with a partner by taking a wide-legged seated position with feet connecting to the feet of your partner. Add various ingredients, reaching forward and over to the sides in your forward bend. Mix the cake by taking your partners hands and circling around, using the pull from your partner to come forward and back. Put the cake on the oven rack (legs up to table top, modified boat pose). When oven dings, take the cake out and frost it (stretching out into forward bend). Then of course, eat it!
Sheep: Walk on all fours. Sheep often move in herds so you can make a herd of sheep with each student holding onto the ankles of the person in front of them to make a big line. One student can even be the sheep dog (downward dog) to guide the herd.
Owl: Take owl pose (squatting on toes with hands clasped behind the back, arms reaching back). Get still, turn your owl head from one side to the other. Let out a hoot or a little jump, landing back on the toes.
Mitten: Take wrist stretches by bringing fingers together, then turning the hand open and stretching one finger at a time. Bring the arms out to a “T” shape and then one finger at a time, make a fist with the hand to test out each finger of the mitten.
Squirrel:We tried bounding like a squirrel, hopping the feet to hands from downward dog and then taking hands forward.This one is very open for interpretation, however, and my students had some very different ideas of what a squirrel pose might consist of.
Angel: Make a halo with hands interlaced overhead, rise up onto toes and float on tiptoes, perhaps flying around the room.
If timing works out, the end of the book makes a great segway into final relaxation. The spilled milk is revealed to be a cloud. You can take kids through a floating like a cloud visualization as they come into savasana/ending quiet time.
Other ideas? I’d love to hear ’em!