Countdown to Calm Down
A K-5 Mindful Breathing Practice
Let’s practice countdown to calm down breathing.
We can do this any time we want to feel calm.
Begin by sitting with your legs crossed on your mat or sitting in your chair with both feet
on the ground.
Gently lift your head up toward the sky, sitting up tall.
Take a moment to notice how you’re feeling. There’s no need to do anything about it.
Now place one hand in the air. We’re going to take five deep breaths, and each time we
breathe out, we’re going to put down one finger. Be sure to breathe all the way into your
stomach on each breath. It will help your body relax.
Are you ready?
Wonderful. Let’s do that four more times.
Now breathe out.
Excellent. Check to see whether your body is starting to feel calmer.
And breathe out.
That’s it. Two more.
One more deep breath in.
Gently lower your hands to your lap.
Check in with your body. Do you notice any changes?
You do not need to read the included script verbatim. Adapt the language so that it is appropriate for your students in particular.
It is not important for students to get this breath practice “exactly right.” Instead, focus on helping them build mind-body awareness each time you practice.
Offer students positive reinforcements throughout each practice. Focus on qualities and behaviors they can control, like their focus, effort, or persistence. Be specific whenever possible. This will help your students develop a “growth mindset.”
This is a great practice to do in class if you notice several students struggling to focus. Rather than singling them out, invite the entire class to do the countdown to calm down breath practice.
Authors: Megan Downey and Anna Basile
Adapted from: Compassionate Schools Project