At the end of the school year my principal had all of the teachers find a rock. There were no rules about the rock, it could be any shape or size. Then she asked us to draw a happy face on it. We had no idea why we were doing this but of course we all complied.
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My district has been focusing on growth mindset as well as staff and student well-being. This activity falls perfectly in line with that focus.
At our staff meeting we were asked to pull out our rocks. Then we were told to make it our own by drawing a happy face on it to remind us that we can always choose to be happy.
Finally, we had to name our rock. When I do this with my students I will ask them to name their rock with something meaningful. I want them to be purposeful in choosing the name. In Japanese, the word “Ishi” means rock and according to the Ishi The Rock website it also means “wish” or “intention”.
Next my principal read the story of Ishi.
Ishi is a rock but it is also a symbol of mindfulness, happiness and kindness. In the book, Ishi gives simple tips that put a positive spin on those moments when we are feeling down and out or when things just aren’t going our way.
Building Classroom Community and Teaching Mindfulness:
Right away I decided that this would be a great activity to build classroom community and mindfulness during the first week of school. It really works well at any point in the school year but I am choosing to do it in the first week.
I’m going to have my students find their rocks and then draw a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other side. They will also write their names on the rock. We are going to read the book and talk about all of the ways we can make ourselves feel better when things aren’t going as planned.
Ongoing Classroom Community Building:
Throughout the year we will revisit our rocks. I plan to use them during class meetings. Students can hold up their rock to show how they are feeling and then we can use this to start conversations about what we can do to change the sad face into a happy face.
In their mindfulness journals they will write about the meaning behind their rock’s name. Then we will do other mindfulness writing prompts like, “What 3 places would you take your rock that make you feel happy?” or they can write about why they chose the happy or sad face that day for the class meeting.
We are going to store our rocks in a glass jar so that they can be on display as a focal point in our classroom and we will refer to them often: