This semester at The Kiva Center, we’re focusing on wellness and resilience. In our most recent blog post we discussed 4 different dimensions of wellness: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. As parents, educators, mentors, etc., it is important for us to teach children skills to maintain wellness in all four aspects of their lives. In this blog we’re going to teach you about an activity we created to introduce wellness to our students.
We call this activity: Life Cycles of Wellness
We invented this game to help our students understand the breadth and scope of wellness, in other words, to introduce them to the four aspects of wellness.
On this wellness journey they moved through 4 different stations and collected beads which represented a life event that could either promote wellness or take away from it. This taught them the interconnected nature of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies, and how our choices can send us on an upward or downward spiral of wellness.
What are some of the aspects of wellness?
What are different ways to promote wellness? What are things that impede wellness?
How do healthy habits make you feel? How do unhealthy habits make you feel?
What are healthy and unhealthy habits that lead to wellness/dis-ease?
What practices/habits lead to your specific wellness?
Here's how it works:
To set up this game, you'll need the following materials:
Dimensions of wellness sheets (like the ones pictured below)
String for each participant (helpful to start with a bead tied to it)
8 different colors of beads and containers for each
Start by creating 4 different stations to represent each dimension of wellness: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. Each station should have two pieces of paper that direct the students’ wellness stories. For example, the emotional wellness station should have a list of upward spiral events and another one for downward spiral events. At each station put two bowls of differently colored beads and two dice (1 for each sheet). To make it easier for us to symbolize the difference between an upward and downward spiral event, we chose light and dark color beads. Like so, if a student’s story led them to the upward spiral sheet, they would get a yellow bead and those on the downward spiral sheet received a brown bead before rolling the dice and continuing their stories.
Each wellness sheet has 6 different events (corresponding with the numbers on a die) that will direct participants to the next part of their story. The pictures below show sheets we used. The different events include healthy responses that would send them on an upward spiral, and others that would put them into a downward spiral. You can download our sheets or create your own!
A participant starts their story as follows:
Receive your string (helpful to have a bead tied at one end so the beads don't fall off)
Pick your starting station and whether you will start with upward or downward spiral
Add the appropriately colored bead to indicate an upward or downward spiral event
Roll the appropriate dice for downward or upward spirals
Read the corresponding event
Reflect! Have you had a similar event happen in your life? How did it make you feel?
Move to the next part of your story, once you arrive go back to step 3 and repeat the process again. Continue for as many rounds as you like, we did ten rounds, but you can do more!
Tips for the facilitator:
Try modeling a turn before asking participants to start.
Establish a limit on the number of beads they will get. This way everyone has a concrete end that is easily measurable.
This activity can work for most age groups, but for younger kids, it is helpful to have a facilitator at each wellness station to help them read and direct them to their next station.
Encourage participants to remember their story so they can talk about it once they've finished.
Here is a sample turn based off of the emotional upward sheet provided.
Let’s pretend I start in an emotional upwards spiral, so I pick up a light green bead. Then, I rolled the die and got a 3. I accept my feelings and feel calm, so I’m directed to go to mental upwards. First, I reflect inwards and think about a time that I took care of my body and mind by listening to my feelings and acknowledging them instead of pretending they weren’t there. Now I feel ready to move on, so I head to the mental upwards sheet at that station, grab my next bead, roll the die, and continue my wellness journey!
This activity is a great starting point for introducing wellness to children because it uses educational play to grasp their attention and deepen learning. Once we lay the groundwork of wellness, we can take a closer look into each dimension.
Check out these resources for more tips on teaching wellness to kids!
Health Powered Kids - 60+ lesson plans and activities to promote healthy lifestyles.
8 dimensions of health and wellness - this article looks at 8 different dimensions of wellness and includes tips for introducing them to children.