Promote Mindfulness with a Classroom Zen Den

By Leah Eslinger Shaw

Classrooms sure have changed over the years! Flexible seating has replaced rows of desks, makerspaces have made their way into libraries and classrooms alike, and block areas have been rebranded for STEAM. I think one of the most exciting changes is creating safe and supportive spaces for mindfulness.

In this post, we’ll be looking at some suggestions for creating a "Zen Den" within the classroom. Whether you’re looking to update your classroom, considering how to incorporate mindfulness into an already busy day, or are just a bit curious-read on!

Your Zen Den can serve a multitude of purposes. It can be a place for cooling down, giving a child a break on a tough day, or providing a safe haven for children seeking quiet, alone time. You might want to think some questions through before you set this up:

  1. Will you introduce the materials or let children discover the area on their own?

  2. Develop some rules and guidelines as a class?

  3. Delineate certain times for Zen Den use?

Those will vary widely from classroom to classroom, and there is no right or wrong way.

With many available products and DIY options, there is no limit to what your Zen Den can look like or the purpose it can serve within your classroom.

Let’s take a look at considerations for creating your very own Zen Den:

Designate a Mindfulness Space

The most important consideration here is the noise level. Perhaps not next to the block area. Other than that, you don’t need much space-a corner of the room will do just fine! If that’s not an option, section off an area that’s already pretty quiet like your classroom library.

Consider these options for adding a mindfulness space:

  1. Special and unique classroom rugs

  2. A teepee or tent

  3. Privacy Cube

  4. Nature's Retreat

Keep the colors neutral, the materials natural, and the volume (relatively) quiet, and you’re good to go!

Include Some Seating Options

The only things to keep in mind would be comfort and personal space. In a busy classroom, many children will appreciate the invitation to have some space to themselves.

  1. Yoga Mats

  2. Meditation cushions (read: pillows)

Add Mindfulness Materials

  1. Include natural materials - smooth river rocks, real or faux plants, or a rain stick. Nature has an inherently calming effect on children and adults alike.

  2. The weight, size, and texture of Mindfulness Pebbles make them a beautiful addition to any classroom. They can also be used more pointedly for practicing relaxation, breathing techniques, and yoga.

  3. Books - maybe include some yoga or mindfulness items.

Add Some Pizzazz

Ok, so maybe pizzazz and Zen Den don’t sound like they go together, but these extra touches can go a long way in creating an inviting new space.

  1. Twinkle lights

  2. Sheer curtains

  3. Silkscape Scarves

If this feels overwhelming, don’t fret. Keep these two things in mind to maintain your inner peace:

Something is better than nothing! No time or space right now? Try just one or two of the suggestions to enhance an existing space already in your classroom or add something as simple as a plant in your library area. Pick just one or two things to draw student attention to or place new material in the classroom library. No need for an ‘all or nothing’ approach here.

There is no wrong way to do this. You can’t mess it up.

Now take a deep breath, and let’s get started…

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Since graduating from Juniata College in 2008, Leah has worked as a Learning Support Teacher, Life Skills Support Teacher, Instructional Coach, and is currently teaching 6th Grade ELA and Social Studies at Shippensburg Area Middle School. When not busy teaching or scouring Pinterest for teaching ideas, Leah enjoys reading, baking healthy treats, and practicing yoga. She currently resides in Greencastle, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.

The opinions, representations, and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of Becker’s School Supplies as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.