Yoga is such a wonderful tool to teach absolutely anything, through movement and experiential learning. And even with the seemingly most mundane topics, we can find greater meaning if we are mindful and if we look just a little bit deeper.
Death is a concept that does occupy children’s minds and a topic which, sooner or later, we all need to discuss. Halloween provides a safe way to play with the concept of death. One day a year, people dress up as the living dead and fake gravestones adorn front lawns... activities that wouldn't be tolerated at other times of the year!
As we know from teaching kids yoga, making it fun is a great way to explore deep and meaningful — and even uncomfortable — topics.
As I was working on this class plan recently, I couldn't resist but compare teens (I have two at home now) to zombies (because they swallow their words, sound muffled, unmotivated, lazy and sleep a lot!) and vampires (with their biting comments and little fits)...it is (almost) funny!
With this, I highly recommend that you come dressed up to help and create the right atmosphere. Count Dracula is one of my favourite choices here!
Put your best Transylvanian accent on and never leave character! And say a lot of Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter) throughout the practice!
Gather all your students in a circle, have them practice their scowls, growls and roars and get them warmed up for some freakishly fabulous monster fun! Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter!).
Each player grabs a straw and a little toy spider (if you don’t have those you can cut paper into spider and bat shapes) and takes a deep breath to use to bring the spider from one end of the room to the other. We will all become zombies and vampires today and I’m not sure if they breathe or not… So make each breath count as if it is your last…. Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter).
Zombie Mirror Dance
This is our warm-up exercise for today.
Standing in a circle, make eye contact with someone across from you in the circle and point at each other to connect as partners. After partnering with someone across the circle, each couple starts to move, mirroring each other’s movements. One partner leads a bit and then the other, but the goal is that they’ll be so much in sync that they will lose the sense of leader and follower, moving as one zombie. Keep your arms raised, your legs stiff and your face drooping like a zombie throughout — Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter).
Zombie Freeze Play
This game that is very similar to freeze dance. Instead of dancing, however, have kids walk around like zombies as the music plays. When the music stops, instead of freezing, they have to lie down and play dead.
You can put more yoga poses in too and when the music stops freeze as a:
Bat: Lying down with legs raised (like a bat hanging upside down). And you can open and fold your wing (arms) with your breath too.
Brain: Child Pose.
Pumpkin: Bow Pose.
Flying Broom: Warrior 3 Pose.
Scarecrows: Make different shapes standing on one leg.
Black Cat: Cat Pose.
Spider: Plow Pose or Table Top Pose.
Dead Bug: Lie on your back and raise your arms and legs like a dead bug toward the sky. Move your hands and legs like a dying bug and make a dead bug face!
Mummy: Lying down on your back with your arms crossed over your chest. And more… Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter)!
Red Light, Walking Dead Light
It is a vampire twist on the classic game of Red Light, Green Light. Vampire Pose for this game will be Warrior 3 to be like a vampire flying in the air. One player is the human. The human stands at the wall with their back turned to the others. The rest of the players are vampires. The vampires stand at the other end of the room. When the human says “red light, walking dead light, one, two three!” the vampires move forward (in vampire motions). When the human is done talking, they rapidly turn back around to face the vampires. The vampires freeze. Anyone who is caught moving when the human turns around needs to go back to the far end of the room. A vampire who can reach the human side of the wall first while their back is turned away, turns into the next human. Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter)!
Eulogy To A Friend Or Family Member
A darker, more macabre activity that works best with groups of students who know each other well (and only for older kids please)… Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter)!
Have each student draw another’s name out of a hat to write a eulogy for (as they are all the undead). Now, at first you might think that this would be a real ‘downer’ of an activity, however, what you’ll find instead is that it will be very uplifting as each guest thinks of kind words to say in ‘remembrance’ of the other. Make sure to limit the eulogy to one minute (or less) depending on the number of the undead present.
The Grave Keeper
Choose one player to be the Grave Keeper. All the other players should lay on the floor as if they are dead. The Grave Keeper should keep an eye out for moving zombies. If they see someone move, they are out… Mwahahahahahaha (evil laughter)! The zombies’ goal is to stand up without being seen. The first zombie to rise from the dead becomes the next Grave Keeper.