At the start of the school year, all teachers devote time to constructing a classroom ethos (ie., “class rules). In my library, my co-librarian and I use a consensus model to help the children create their own ”Library Agreements.” We all agree to “be” a certain way in the library.
During this process the children come up with their own “library agreements” (which are inevitably similar to the rules they may have experienced in other classrooms). The exercise gives them ownership of the library’s behavior guidelines. The children sign the document and we post it for the first part of the year.
Each year, we select a different title to read aloud before doing this exercise. This year we chose Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile. In Let’s Do Nothing!, the main characters try very hard to do “nothing” but eventually realize that “doing nothing” is a physical impossibility. (We’re always breathing, blinking, etc.) In these characters’ persuit to “do nothing,” they try “doing nothing” for 10 seconds, acting like statues, and being redwood trees and skyscrapers. I used these moments in the book to incorporate excersises that promote mindfulness.
When we got to the point in the book where Sal suggested, “Let’s try doing nothing for ten seconds,” I paused and waited a full ten seconds. Waiting quietly for ten seconds provides the children with an opportunity to notice the passing of time, to recognize one moment, then the next, then the next… It’s a pause they don’t frequently get during a regular school day.
Before I read the book, I took the children through some “yoga” postures to prepare them for the story. I let them know that we would be stopping the story to do three poses: statue, tree, and skyscraper. We tried all three before we began to read. Then, at the appropriate point in the story, I stopped reading and we held each of these poses for ten seconds. Breaking up the book with movement activity and moving along with the story allowed the children to really share the experience of the characters in Let’s Do Nothing!.
We moved from the story of Sal and Frankie trying to “do nothing” into a discussion about all of the “somethings” we would be doing in Library Class this year and how exactly we were going to do those somethings: with respect, responsibility, and attention.