My name is Kirsten Carroll and I am the author of The Colour Breather, a story about mindfulness for primary school children. I am a primary and secondary French and Spanish teacher, teaching in a high school and three primaries in North Manchester.
I wrote the book during lockdown in 2020, when the disruption that children were facing educationally, socially and mentally was becoming all too apparent. The Colour Breather is about Alfie, a young boy with a baby brother that he is finding increasingly frustrating! He takes his toys, changes the TV channel and pushes him over. Although mum is always busy around the house and working on her laptop, she always finds time to help Alfie feel better. When she comes up with the idea of ‘colour breathing’ – choosing a colour and imagining all Alfie’s feelings blowing out as that colour – they discover that Alfie has an incredible special gift. One that can help him deal with all the situations in which he feels frustrated, anxious or upset. And Alfie can’t wait to show dad!
The book covers many of the different issues that families have faced during the unprecedented times of the last 18 months, such as children being at home for prolonged periods, parents working from home and children being socially isolated.
‘Colour Breathing’ is an easy technique that children can try when they are struggling with feeling upset or anxious.
Here are my top 5 tips for activities you could try with your class after you have read the book together:
- Take the opportunity for children to talk about what things may make them feel upset, angry or anxious. You could do this as a whole-class discussion, in small groups, or if they are not a confident group, pupils could write an idea on a sticky note and place it on the board to keep it confidential.
- Ask the children to pick their favourite colour, then draw objects of this colour. For red, Alfie thought about tomatoes, pepperoni, his football kit and his fire engine. This could be done as an art lesson or even in ICT.
- Using a collection of different materials, ask the children to make a rainbow. Glitter, pipe cleaners, ribbon, straws or even just paint would work well!
- Make a ‘Colour Breather’! Use cardboard to make a tube that the children can blow into. Attach long ribbons of different coloured tissue paper to the bottom of the tube. When the children blow into the tube the tissue paper should ‘dance and dip and bob and weave’ just like Alfie’s breath!
- As part of your daily routine, put on some calming music and ask children to close their eyes. Explain that you are going to count breath with them. As they breath out on 1 they should relax the muscles in their face. On 2 they relax their neck and shoulders. On 3 they relax their tummy. Guide them through the technique as follows: ‘Breathe in 1…and breathe out. Breathe in 2…and breathe out. Breathe in 3…and breathe out.’ Don’t forget to remind them to keep their eyes closed, and to imagine their breath coming out as a colour, just like Alfie! This could be useful after break or lunch time to calm children down ready to start their learning again.
I hope you enjoy The Colour Breather!
With many thanks to Kirsten Carroll for writing this blog for us and sharing her activity ideas all linked to her brand new book.
You can purchase Kirsten’s book within our Mental Health and Mindfulness Book Pack.