Wednesday, March 23, 2011

zen gardens at preschool

It was hectic, as pick up times can be. 

My little friend had the wild gleam in his eyes that could only mean the promise of mischief and mayhem.  What could I grab from the store room to avert pick up melt down?

Zen gardens to the rescue!

These two boxes of gorgeousness would surely do the trick.  After all, zen gardens just scream (or whisper) peace and tranquility, right?

Wrong.  I'd love to tell you that the wild gleam in my little friend's eyes was replaced by a look of serenity as he ever so carefully raked patterns in the pebbles. 

With me looking on fondly, basking in the warm glow of teacher accomplishment.

Ha.  All I can tell you is that there isn't a whole lot of zen in the moment a zen garden is emptied out onto the table.  

Of course, moving my little friend from mayhem to tranquility in moments was too much to expect, even of a zen garden.  I bear the zen gardens no ill will.

In fact, I'm a little bit in love with Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone's idea of creating a relaxation table at preschool:
Everyone needs some peace and tranquility. When children feel overwhelmed or need some alone time, give them a place to sit quietly with beautiful smooth rocks or objects that FIT in their palms.
Image: Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone

If you yen for some zen, Catherine over at Adventures with Kids has a wonderful post on creating a miniature zen garden.

Or if you would like to be inspired by some more of Maria's ideas, she blogs at Eco-Cycle Junkie.

Peace out.

We Play


  1. At the risk of stopping people clicking through to the link, I do not think that our zen garden inspired tranquillity. My son had a lot of focus on building stone arrangements and raking, but there was a lot of excitement and getting new bit and pieces to add.
    In my home, tranquillity is best restored by adding water.

  2. Sounds similar to my experience Catherine. Maybe zen gardens in the traditional sense don't mix with preschoolers. Or maybe only some preschoolers? Too much like a mini sandpit - too tempting to do mini-sandpit like things.

  3. I love the relaxation table idea, and the quote about offering things that fit in children's palms as a way of providing some peace to an overwhelmed child.

    Playdough is my go-to activity for calming my children down when they're a bit frazzled. And the other day at my daughter's kinder I watched a little girl go from crying and upset as her mother said goodbye, to completely calm and soothed in about 30 seconds flat. The teacher got her smocked-up and finger painting. Actually she was using her whole hands to cover a great big sheet of paper all over with green paint. It was magic!

  4. Thanks Jenny for this post!
    I like the ideas of both round smooth objects, as well as water play, playdough - all can be helpful!
    I'm recalling the fun my kids have had going between a water table and a table covered in shaving cream, that also was fun and soothing!
    Sometimes in my work I can forget the simple, tried and true things!

    I loved this post!
    Take care,

  5. My kids bounced from one activity to another. Zen is hard to come by with preschoolers, but it's important to give them a little zen time. I try to give my kids time separate from each other. Then there is no one to encourage goofiness. My kids are 7, 7, and 9. I find with kids so close in age, they are always distracting each other and talking at once. Zen time means alone time in my house.
    Nice post!

  6. what a wonderful, inspiring space you have! i'm so glad we've met!

    the sleepy time gal

  7. One thing that almost always worked with my kindergarten kids was face massage. I taught them as a class, and then each child worked with a partner to do a guided massage. Add in relaxing background music and no overhead lights and it truly was a peaceful time.