Sitting on a Chicken: Extract

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To celebrate the release of Sitting on a Chicken by Michael Chissick, we are releasing an extract from the book, featuring four interactive yoga games and poses you can use with your children or pupils!

To download the extract please click here. 

Learn more about Sitting on a Chicken here. 

Michael Chissick has written several books for children, published by Singing Dragon, please find them here.

My Transition from Practitioner to Teacher

Quayle_Mouses-House-Ch_978-1-84819-247-8_colourjpg-printby Susan Quayle, author of The Mouse’s House: Children’s Reflexology for Bedtime or Anytime, illustrated by Melissa Muldoon

If you are thinking of transitioning from a practitioner to a teacher I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have created your own beautiful course and have a passion to share it with the world. On the whole, the world is just waiting for you to share your vision with them.

As a maternity and fertility reflexologist I build powerful relationships with women at the most amazing times in their lives. Working with pregnant women is such an awe inspiring privilege with the therapist developing a connection to both mother and child. Very soon after making this career choice I realised that all too often the relationship ends abruptly after the child is born when really a whole new relationship should be starting. Babies absolutely love reflexology, whilst inside their mothers womb as well as skin to skin, so to speak!

For a long time after having this realisation I thought about how I could continue to see parents after their babies were born and the answer I came up with was to run a course for them. There was a problem with this idea though, what and how would I teach them? Just coming along for a session would be great but wouldn’t really be building any relationships or offering them the chance to bond with other new mothers. So the content needed to last for more than one session, be engaging, attractive and fun. I thought I might be able to create a course but there was a lot of work to consider and I really felt that without a proper concept it would feel a bit flat. I thought a lot more, for months, years even! As with all ideas they come after a lot of ground work has already been put in and one day in the bath an idea came to me of The Children’s Reflexology Programme, TCRP, and a lovely, simple story about a mouse that would visit all her friends and ask for help to make her new-found house cosy. The Mouse’s House and the development possibly for future courses were born. I have become a strong believer in the concept that if you work on ideas for long enough everything falls into place.

There was a lot of work involved in creating the book and finding Melissa Muldoon, the amazing illustrator, but after a year we self-published and shortly after that Lucy Buckridge, an editor from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, approached me and we now have the beautiful book that we see today. The Mouse’s House is a rhyming story of short verses where each of the animal characters represents one of the important reflexes and as you read the story to your child you work the reflexes as the characters appear. The result is a simple but complete treatment.

Almost two years after the creation of The Mouse’s House I started writing the first parent course to supplement the material in the book and help parents understand the reflexology better in a workshop style environment. The book with the animal characters had given me the concept that I had felt was missing from a course in the first place. I added a few more reflexes to the course which meant coming up with more characters. I felt that this would add value and would allow me to create specific treatments for a variety of minor conditions of childhood.

The first courses went out in the autumn of 2014 and I was a nervous wreck! I felt pretty exposed standing in front of an audience and teaching my course for the first time….but the mums loved it! I received messages from the very first day telling me how the reflexology had worked for a variety of conditions that their children were suffering and they couldn’t wait for the next session. I ran three courses for one hour a week over six weeks. The youngest we had on a course was four days old and he was suffering from constipation – but not for long! Everyone got something out of the course and all of them have continued to give their children reflexology since with the beautiful handouts that they received and their own copy of The Mouse’s House, which make up a parent pack and which the children loved.

The feedback was fabulous and inspired me to continue, so after Christmas I began writing an instructors course. I realised that if I wanted this to reach the number of people that I was thinking of I would need more than me out there teaching it to parents. I had already been thinking about the concept of a website that would link the instructors to their courses and allow anyone anywhere to find an instructor in their area. I had been asking my husband, who is a programmer, if he could design such a website for me and in January he started to work on what we have now. A large part of the instructor business is based online with lots of marketing materials and the Google Earth link to the site. So we had a way of instructors reaching their parents and telling the world that they were here.

One of the most important factors for me in creating TCRP was empowering parents. I wanted to bring the powerful effects of reflexology to them in a simple fun package that they could utilise anywhere and at any time. So now that I was writing an instructor course I thought about what I wanted to achieve from this course and again I wanted to be able to empower parents. I thought about the baby massage business model where there is no pre-requisite to be a massage therapist to train and I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to offer parents, mothers in particular, the option of having a sustainable, ethical business that they could work at alongside their parenting and which would be holistic and positive in supporting other families in such a beneficial way. Having seen mothers who’d had to go back to work, leaving their baby when they didn’t want to, it felt great to be able to give them another option, as a long term business plan or for a short time until they were ready to resume a career.

For me this was a huge thing. I felt that I was breaking many rules. As far as I was aware, in this country, all infant reflexology courses were taught by qualified reflexologists and mine would be the first to change this ideology. It wasn’t just parents that I wanted to offer this training to. Baby massage teachers, baby yoga teachers indeed anyone who worked or had a healthy interest in helping parents and their children would be able to train as an instructor.

By March I was pretty much done. The coursework was beautiful and there was lots of it! All the reflexology was wonderfully simple, clear and most importantly engaging. All the reflexology protocols had been carefully created by a professional reflexologist and the marketing material was all to a very high standard.

On a whim, in March, I published details of the first course – just to see what the reaction would be – and I got an instant response from several people. The first course ran in April and was a great success and a huge amount of fun. As I was aware that being the focus of attention wasn’t my favourite thing I built in lots of things for the students to do to draw it away from me. So much came out of this first course. Once you create something new it is often surprising how many different avenues can open up. The second instructor course ran in June and this enabled me to apply for approval from the Association of Refelxologists in the UK. I sent all the course work off, feeling very nervous about what they would say in regards to the not needing to be qualified to train. I have to admit to being quite flabbergasted by their response! They loved it and wanted to approve it but wanted me to make a couple of small changes – mostly in relation to teaching the reflexology to trained reflexologists, which was fair enough. I now have approval and the good news is that reflexologists only need to do two of the normal three days’ training.

I have lots of courses planned and have been in close contact with many wonderful reflexologists around the country who are helping me to set up all sorts of new initiatives with this concept. There are a lot of areas opening up that I had never really thought of and whole new concepts coming out of this one too.

I have also continued to write books and have written two more and am half way through a third for older children. Writing has become my passion and empowering parents through reflexology my mission. I really hope that infant reflexology can become as mainstream, accepted and appreciated as baby massage – but let’s not take forty years to make it happen this time!

Susan Quayle is an experienced reflexologist and complementary therapist who has developed her skills and qualifications to specialise in the areas of fertility, maternity, babies and children. Susan has created and developed ‘The Children’s Reflexology Programme’, which uses her guide The Mouse’s House. The course has been approved by the Association of Reflexologist. To find out more, including dates and venues across the UK, please visit www.kidsreflex.co.uk.

Susan lives in Devon, UK and her clinic is based in Exeter and at her home, she now spends much of her time empowering parents with reflexology through her innovative books and courses.

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Four day old asleep

Call for Comic and Graphic novel submissions

Singing Dragon and Jessica Kingsley Publishers have recently started developing an exciting new line of comics and graphics novels and we are now open for submissions.

Singing Dragon publishes authoritative books on all aspects of Chinese medicine, yoga therapy, aromatherapy, massage, Qigong and complementary and alternative health more generally, as well as Oriental martial arts. Find out more on www.singingdragon.com

JKP are committed to publishing books that make a difference. The range of subjects includes autism, dementia, social work, art therapies, mental health, counselling, palliative care and practical theology. Have a look on www.jkp.com for the full range of titles.

If you have an idea that you think would work well as a graphic book, or are an artist interested in working with us, here is what we are looking for:

Graphic novel or comic – Long form

We are looking for book proposals that are between 100 and 200 pages, black and white or colour, and explore the topics listed above or another subject that would fit into the JKP/Singing Dragon list. Specifically we are hoping to develop more personal autobiographical stories.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the plot/outline of the book, as well as short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Character sketches of the main characters with descriptions.
  3. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 5 to 10 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  4. Solo writers will need to submit 10 to 20 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

Comic – Short form

We have some shorter comic projects underway and are looking to expand the range of topics covered. These books can run from 20 to 40 pages, black and white or colour, with dimensions of 170x230mm. We are mainly looking for comics that provide ideas and information for both professionals and general readers.

For example, the first in this series, published by Singing Dragon, is a book exploring the latest developments in chronic pain research.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the narrative style and subject matter to be explored in the book. Also include short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 3 to 5 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  3. Solo writers will need to submit 5 to 10 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

When submitting please provide low-res images and send them, along with everything else, to Mike Medaglia at mike.medaglia@jkp.com

If you have any other ideas that don’t directly relate to the subjects described above but you feel might still fit into the Singing Dragon or JKP list, please feel free to get in touch with ideas and enquiries on the email above.

Winter Water Element Activities for Children

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

winter waterBrrrr… Winter winds and frosty mornings bring the natural contraction of our muscles and bodies to conserve our energy and find a warm cozy place to warm our hands and feet.  Winter represents the Element of Water, the source of our life energy and keeper of our reservoirs.  All around us nature shows us that earth has her natural cycle of decline and rest in the winter season, with the hibernation of the animals and foliage in snowy lands, and the decline of growth and fruits in the tropical regions.  Winter shows us the two sides of the life force through its pure, silencing, stillness that takes us deep into our unconscious minds and souls, to the raging power of a glacier or iceberg cutting through the earth and leaving its imprint for all of life to spring forth from.

The Water Element provides the same instincts to our bodies, minds, and spirit as it gives expression to our need and capacity for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. This inward movement is what cultivates the resources of our energy and reserves for all growth and development in our lives.    In children, the Water Element is most obvious when they express a whiny, cranky hour where we know they need a nap, or quiet time to allow their bodies to integrate a busy or exciting day.  Some children will just quietly disappear to a resting spot or activity on their own, while others might show bursts of energy until they drop suddenly into a sleep.  And then there are those children that seem to have an endless, steadfast flow of energy, with no peaks or valleys, just a consistent capacity to move from one activity to another…

Respecting and sensing the natural rhythm of our children’s life force and need for rest is important, as it builds the foundation of one’s ability to relax and rest in life.  The following exercises are examples of some winter/Water Element activities that can be enjoyed with a family, group, or one on one with a child.

Calm Water

Supplies:  a lot of newspaper and a little bell (or jingle bells found at Christmas time)

If working with a group or family, everyone but one person lays down on their stomach, while the person/child left standing covers everyone with newspaper sheets from head to toe.  The individuals lying down have to remain perfectly still, not moving the paper or making a sound. The person left standing silently walks around trying to surprise the quiet still ones with a sound or stomp, giving lots of room for those lying down to listen sharply and be very still for the approaching noise maker!    After this fun and anticipating game, the person left standing rings the bell and everyone jumps up shaking the paper sheets off their bodies.  The person with the bell chooses the next person to be the bell keeper and the game can begin again.

Getting Taller

Divide everyone in the group into pairs, and have one partner face the back of the other partner.   The person facing the back of their partner asks them, what kind of rain they want to fall on their back; a soft spring rain, powerful summer thunder storm, or gentle snow falling down. The rain maker then makes a soft, loose fist, or flexible fingertips, and taps down the back on the right and left side of the spine, all the way down to the feet (the Bladder Meridian in the Water Element).  It is important to always start from the top and tap down toward the feet, like the rain or snow falling down the body. Repeat 2 times, and always start from the top again.  When done raining, “dry” the back with flat hands down the back from shoulders to feet, and then change roles.

This is also fun, if a group stands in a line and everyone behind the other in the line tries to do this at the same time, then reverse the direction of the line.

Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development, read Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists released in 2014 with Singing Dragon.

Autumn Metal Element activities for children – by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Bettye Jo Wray-Fears

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

November - metal imageThe transformation of the autumn leaves from their brilliant colors blowing in the wind to withered, crunchy piles on the ground shows us the natural capacity of our planet to let go of what is no longer   needed in life.  Autumn is the time of the Metal Element, where the cycle of life from beginning to end is most apparent as nature prepares for the hibernation of winter.  Fall marks the approaching end of the year and can bring a natural sense of reflection for us as we recognize how time passes season after season.

The Metal Element and the season of autumn are symbolic for many aspects of our lives.  It has clear demarcation of irreversible change representing the need to let go and create boundaries in order for balance and the cycle of life to continue.  It is the Metal Element that gives us the capacity to reflect on what has past, to keep what is most precious, and to cut loose what we no longer need so we can make room for what comes next.   When in balance, this function is as natural as breathing in, and breathing out, and one might even find oneself doing exactly that with the crispness of the autumn air.

For children, the Metal Element expressions are most visible in their sense of boundaries in their environment, bodies, space and time.  The young child that cries out, “No! That’s my toy!” is expressing a boundary of self and depending on the age is an appropriate and needed expression to come in touch with oneself.  Just as the 6 year old child that shows difficulty respecting the space of other children and their objects, likewise may be expressing an undeveloped Metal Element aspect.  Space, time, order, capacity to let go of one craft to start another, or just an ability to know when the time for stopping an activity, are all developmental pieces of the Metal Element that can be observed in children and adults.

The following exercises are games and activities that can be used to stimulate the Metal Element energy.  They can be used with a family, classroom, or a group of children to experience some fun qualities of Metal Element.

Do I Know My Size?

This activity is for a family or small group. Every member of the family/group gets a long rope (longer than what it would take to draw the outline of the body).  The rope can be inexpensive twine that is used to wrap packages.  Everyone uses their rope to try to create the outline of their body (in whatever shape they want) on the ground.  They cannot lay on the ground to measure; they have to try to do this from their idea of their own size and shape.  When everybody is done, all members of the group look and decide if they think the drawings are the correct size of each other or not.

After all the opinions have been shared,  each person will take a turn laying in their own shape while the other group members use different colours of wool or cotton balls to surround the actual shape of the person laying down.  Then they help the person surrounded by cotton or wool to stand up very carefully.  Now this group member can see how different the shape they made was to the real shape on the ground.

Having Fun with Boundaries!

2 people are sitting face to face at a table. The table should not be too big.  A cotton ball is placed in the center of the table.  Now, without using hands or any other objects, both people try to blow the cotton ball off the opposite side of the table in the direction where the other person is sitting. Of course it becomes harder and harder to succeed as the each person tries to keep the cotton ball from falling off the table on their side!Kalbantner-Wern_Children-at-The_978-1-84819-118-1_colourjpg-web

Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development read Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists.

NEXT: Winter Water Element activities – snow fall down the Bladder Meridian!

Earth element activities for children – by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Bettye Jo Wray-Fears

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. September---Earth-image-webAs the earth moves from summer into the fall, we might notice an unusual phenomena happening that sometimes looks like the earth can’t quite make up its mind what season to express.  If you live close to farm land it is the most apparent.  Bright yellow fields of winter wheat are in blossom looking like spring, some days have hot burning hours of sunshine feeling like the remnants of summer, or wisps of cool breezes descending with patches of trees starting to change to the autumn colors, and even sudden cold rainy days or nights that make one shudder at the memory of winter on their skin.  The transition from summer to fall is the most apparent transition time where all the seasons are expressed at one time, giving rise to the Element Earth.  In the cycle of the 5 Elements, this is where Earth Element exists, but truly this auspicious 5th Element represents the transitional time in between all the phases of life and seasons.

Earth herself is the ground that all the seasons cycle through.  It is the Earth that we lay down to rest on every night, and the ground we stand on when we awake.  Food, air, water, shelter, and everything that sustains life and gives it the nourishment and support to live and die, comes from the Earth.  We can experience this in the way we feel at home in our bodies, thoughts, ideas, and personal expressions of caring for others and ourselves.  Children who love to nurture other, pets, and gardens, and love to sing and dance content in themselves are expressing the innate nature of the Earth Element.  And those children that we see looking lost, not knowing what to do, needing to follow others or climb continually into the teachers lap, are often expressing the need for Earth Element to be supported and guided to find its own ground and center of balance to interact with the world.

The following exercises can be used with a family, classroom, or a group of children to experience qualities of Earth Element.    Remember, it takes patience to allow transitions to happen, and self nurturing to find one’s center and balance.  Both are developed expressions of Earth Element.  Allow the children to experience whatever arises in the exercises with support, acceptance, and safe boundaries, so that all five of the Elements are given room to grow.

Gardening

You will need little flower pots or recycled yoghurt cups, soil, and different kinds of seeds. Fill the soil in the little pots, make a little hole to put the seeds in and then cover with the extra soil.  Spray a little bit of water every day over the planted seeds, and watch for changes to happen.

Choose seeds that grow fast, like water cress, or sunflower seeds.  If you use water cress it is a great treat on bread and butter after they have sprouted.  Cress is also possible to grow on a piece of wet paper towels, but playing with the soil can give a little more of the feeling of the Earth Element for the children.

The idea for this exercise is to see the whole cycle of growth, like all the seasons, and to use what you care for, like the harvest of fall.

Balancing on Stilts

You need 2 big empty cans that are the same size, i.e., from coffee or soup; a piece of clothesline, and something to make round holes in the cans.

Use the bottom of the can that is still covered for the standing surface or top of the stilt.  Have an adult make two holes on the walls/sides of the cans, 2 cm under the bottom of the can (the surface of the stilt). The holes should be level and on opposite sides of the can.

Now pull the clothesline through each hole. When a child stands on the cans, the line should be long enough to make a loop that comes together to tie at the level of the hips for the child to hold onto.  Now you can walk on your stilts. Of course you use your stilts only outside. Have a lot of fun with it!

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Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development, check out Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists published by Singing Dragon.

NEXT: Autumn Metal Element activities – fun with sizes and the cotton ball challenge!

 

The rewards of using homeopathy with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Andrews_Homeopathy-and_978-1-84819-168-6_colourjpg-printThe rewards of using homeopathy with Autism Spectrum Disorder – by Mike Andrews

I have been practicing as a professional homeopath since 1990. I have an open door policy to referrals and most clients self refer to me. In the past I have had a special interest in working with clients with fertility problems, skin conditions and asthma.

I have over the years worked with many children, and their parents, with ADD, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I find working with ASD children particularly rewarding as the changes that I have seen homeopathy bring about in their and their parents lives is immensely heart-warming.

As is common in the Autism community when parents find something that benefits their child they tell other parents about it. This is how my Autism practice has grown. The changes can be so obvious that other parents will ask ‘What you have been doing to help your child so much?’

The changes can be most observable in social skills in public, the changes that go on ‘behind closed doors’ are often dramatic in terms of improved family relationships, eating a wider range of foods and less repetitive or aggressive behaviour.

In my book Homeopathy and Autism Spectrum Disorder I wanted to look at the types of results homeopaths around the world were achieving and to see how they compared with my experience. Many positive small cohort studies have been published. I refer to these studies in the book and also chose to interviewed colleagues from around the world.  Homeopaths working in Australia, the US, Israel, India and the UK contributed generously to the publication.

Nutritional approaches or biomedicine are often the first step that parents take in to non-conventional medicine when they are dissatisfied by state provision of services. Myself, and other homeopaths, have found that significant further gains can be made even for those children that have been following a dietary regime and supplementation program for some time. Observing a seven year old boy, who had been on a nutritional program for a year when his parents first consulted me, significant cognitive and motor skill improvements followed the introduction of a homeopathic remedy. His nutritionist then suggested stopping the old program, and various tests, before starting a new revised program; at this point the child’s tantrums increased although other gains were maintained. He was then prescribed a different homeopathic medication which helped him greatly even before he started the new nutritional supplements.

Homeopathy is very much an individualised treatment modality which is both its strength and its weakness. Being so individualised it is hard to fit homeopathic treatment into conventional research protocols and it is difficult to give advice for self treatment. However with a choice of over 3500 homeopathic medicines to choose from the child, or indeed adult, with ASD can receive a remedy which takes full account of their individual characteristics and symptoms. Homeopathic treatment is not about de-toxing, although that can be part of the treatment plan, but more a holistic treatment. Homeopathy views everyone’s symptoms, whether autistic or not, as a dynamic whole mind-body disturbance and they are treated with a dynamic homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy works with the ‘vital’ force’, Chinese traditional medicine with the ‘chi’. The exact mechanism of homeopathy is still not fully understood, although it probably lies in the realms of quantum physics. Reading my book will give you as a parent or career for someone with autism, or a professional working with families, a good understanding of homeopathy and the results that have been achieved if you work with a properly qualified and registered Homeopath.

Mike Andrews DSH RSHom graduated from Misha Norland’s School of Homeopathy (UK) in 1990. He has taught at many UK homeopathic colleges: London College of Classical Homeopathy, Purton House School of Homeopathy and on the BSc (Hons) Health Sciences: Homeopathy module at the University of Westminster. He has been in full-time homeopathic practice since 1990 and has been a Registered Member of the Society of Homeopaths since 1994. He practiced in West Sussex for many years, but now works in London and Ludlow, Shropshire. Over more than twenty three years in practice, he has worked with many children and their parents, giving him a good practical understanding of child development. He has worked with children with diagnoses of dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, Asperger’s and Autism. He is the author of Homeopathy and Autism Spectrum Disorder

July Fire Element activities for children – by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Bettye Jo Wray-Fears

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   By clicking on the link at the end of this article you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!fire-element
What do those three words expressed with exclamation marks elicit in you?  Action, alarm, quick-rising energy to react, a pounding heart, consideration of others, a need for clear communication to call out to others for help?  You are landing in the Fire Element capacities already and July brings us into the heart of summer and the Fire Element.

The Fire Element gives us our capacity to communicate with others with warmth, excitement, distinction, emotional sensitivity, and clear articulation.  It rules the heart, so Fire Element development includes learning to express and feel all of the emotions in life.  Joy, laughter, lightness of being, and relational sensitivity are the core emotional expressions gifted to us in our Fire Element capacities.

Correlating summer qualities can be seen in the vitality of nature in the Fire Element.  Summer brings playfulness, bustling energy to interact with others, red, sweaty faces, laughter, heart connecting activities, and vacations that involve relationships with others or self.  Like the busy bees in nature pollinating the trees and collecting nectar for the hive, all activities are directed by some level of communication with others and self.  And like real fire, the energy of this Element in children can be seen in flickers of spontaneity, exuberance, boundless freedom to express in all directions in a room, contagious – spreading laughter, humorous wit, and warmth to all that come near it.

The following exercises can be used with a family, classroom, or a group of children to experience qualities of Fire Element.  Remember, all emotions and experiences in the participants are part of the growth of the Elements.  There is no right or wrong way to react to these games.  Allow children to experience whatever arises with support, acceptance, and safe boundaries, and all five of the Elements are given room to grow.

Nicking Socks

This game is suitable for groups of at least six children.  Each child needs to be wearing loose-fitting socks.

a. On command, everyone crawls around the room and tries to pull as many socks as they can off the other children’s feet and stick them in their own waistband.  The contest creates a lot of laughter and romping.

b. To calm the group down afterwards, all the socks can be put into a bag, and the child who collected the most socks is blindfolded and has to try to find the matching pairs.  Can it be done?  Laughter, playfulness, group camaraderie is offered for all in this exercise.

Desire and capacity for relationships, emotional intelligence, awareness of others and oneself are fruits of developed FIRE qualities.

Making Faces (Good for all ages, great for parent/child groups)

3 or more individuals are standing in a line facing in one direction. The last child/participant makes some kind of funny facial expression.  When the child is ready, he/she taps on the shoulder of the person in front of him.  Then this child/person taps the shoulder on the person in front of him and passes the expression on.  When the last child receives the expression, all compare how it looks with the last persons interpretation and how it looked at the beginning.  The difficult part is not to laugh and to try to stay serious all the time.  Nearly impossible!

This article can be downloaded in a PDF format by clicking on this link  so you can start creating a notebook of Five Element exercises that will be offered each month.
You can find more information and examples of how the Five Elements support development in children in the book: Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for parents, teachers, and therapists, published by Singing Dragon.

NEXT: Earth Element activities – stay grounded in the season of change

June Wood Element activities for children – by Karin Kalbantner-Wernicke and Bettye Jo Wray-Fears

In our previous blog we introduced the element Wood through a visualization exercise to help children begin to feel the Element in themselves and the environment.  The focus was on the imagination and creativity qualities that Wood Element offers in life. We will continue with Wood in this blog and expand on the way it supports child development.

Beside creativity and imagination, the Wood Element gives us two other important gifts, our physical mobility and flexibility. Here we want to emphasize that the development of flexibility happens as strongly in the mental capacity as in the physical. A good analogy of a flexible nature in someone can be seen in a bamboo tree. No matter which direction the wind blows, bamboo will stand upright over and over again. The following exercise is an example of how you can bring this experience to a family or small group of children. It creates a lot of movement involving rolling, turning and stretching that is good for everyone. Above all, it is really fun and brings laughter and play into the dynamics of any group.

June Wood imageThe World is Coloured

Particularly in springtime we experience a large variety of colours in nature. Everything blossoms, budding fresh green leaves and flowers of every hue.  Everywhere you look nature is full of energy and joy for life. The following exercise can bring all of these qualities to everyone in the family or group.

The family members sit down on a big towel of their own, and are told it is a large tub full of different colours, whatever they imagine. Everyone chooses one particular colour that they are sitting in and shares which colour they selected.  Each can say the special reason why the colour they picked is their colour for today. 

Then everybody should “paint himself” –if possible everywhere- with his favourite colour, by turning on his towel, rolling and lolling about. Encourage each to try all the movements possible in their tub.

Then ask, “Is your body totally covered with colour? Well, now let’s paint the floor!“

Everybody rolls and rolls throughout the space. There are obstacles everywhere! If another person is touched, their colours mix. What colour is it now?

After a few minutes everybody sits up.

 “So, now let’s paint the soles of each other’s feet – pick a partner and ask your partner which colour he would like.  Apply the colour firmly on your partner’s soles. When you are done, everybody stand up and make footprints with big or small steps in the whole room! Now, try to walk in the footprints of another person and see what it feels like to walk in their steps.”

Everybody has to go under a shower afterwards. Everyone searches for a place in the room for himself/herself and shakes the colours off vigorously under their shower.

To end, everyone must hop until they are dry!

The physical activity of this exercise allows the Wood Element’s need for large movements, imagination, loud noises, and stretching for everyone.  Allow the dynamics of the group to unfold. There might be natural directors that appear as others ideas and creativity come and go. Give room for each to experience and work out what might be difficult or easy in the interactions and instructions. Experiencing any difficulty is as important as experiencing the ease in all of the Five Element exercises, as participants have the opportunity to try out new solutions.

If anger appears, allow this. Anger is the natural response to frustration and the emotion expressed in the Wood Element. Activities that give children permission to experiment with anger, supports healthy development as they learn how to manage this strong energy. For those that struggle moving through this emotion, the following exercise can be added:

Lightning Power

Kalbantner-Wern_Children-at-The_978-1-84819-118-1_colourjpg-webSit without shoes on a chair.  Cling your toes into the floor and tense all the muscles of your feet.

Now imagine a lightning bolt which sends the anger down into the floor. If the child likes he/she can also clench the hands and make a grimace with the face.

After a while relax and enjoy how much lighter everything feels now.

We invite you to look for what comes next month as we enter into the Fire Element and season of summer. This article can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on this link so that you can start creating a notebook of Five Element exercises that will be offered each month. You can find more information and examples of how the Five Elements support development in children in the book, Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists, published by Singing Dragon.

NEXT: July Fire Element Activities – nicking socks and making faces