I just finished up my first experience teaching yoga to kids! I taught yoga to two groups of kids twice a week for a summer camp. Their ages ranged from 6 to 12, and each class was thirty minutes which was the perfect amount of time for these groups. I did a lot of preparation in the beginning because I had never taught yoga to kids before, and after a lot of trial and error, I found the games that worked for this group and wanted to share them here!
The biggest thing I learned about teaching yoga to kids (and I'm sure this applies to teaching kids almost anything) is: Create a plan and be ready to throw that plan out the window. The easiest way to have a smooth flowing class is to observe and listen to what the kids need in that moment, and that may not always be what your original plan is. But that's okay! The main purpose is to introduce yoga to kids and let them have a fun time. You may get a chance to do your class plan another day.
The kids I taught were very interested in being active. They had a lot of energy and needed to get it out. They weren't taking this yoga class by choice (which may happen when teaching kids at some places), so I learned how to incorporate aspects of yoga into games that would peak their interest.
Now, onto the fun and games!
1. Warrior Freeze Tag
Just like Freeze Tag, but if you get tagged, you freeze in a Warrior II Pose while you wait for your fellow warriors to unfreeze you. I usually picked two or three taggers to help move the game along and keep everyone active.
2. Yoga Infection
A popular game kids like to play today is another tagging game called Infection. The premise is that once you get tagged by a tagger, you also become a tagger. And this goes on until everyone has been tagged. For a yogic twist, anyone that gets tagged has to hold Tree Pose for 5 seconds, and then they can run around and try tagging others.
3. Yoga 4 Corners
Establish four corners that kids can run to, picking a yoga pose for each corner. One person will be the guesser who stands in the middle with eyes closed. The other kids have ten seconds to run to a corner and get into the assigned pose. The guesser will call out a random corner and those that are in the chosen corner are out and will come to the middle to do butterfly pose around the guesser. The game continues until one person is left standing! When it comes down to four kids left, it helps to add the rule that each person must be at their own corner from then on so they all don't group up.
4. Shark Boat Challenge
This is a fun game for those that want to work on balancing (or core)! Have the kids all form a line. One person will be the shark and will come forward, facing away from everyone. The shark will intermittently look back at the line throughout the game, and when the shark looks back, those in line have to balance on one leg (you can pick a pose, or do boat pose for older kids). If the shark catches someone not balancing or if they've fallen over, they become seaweed! The seaweed takes a seat in their spot and are now allowed to try to distract those balancing around them without touching anyone or leaving their spot.
5. Sleeping Lion
This was the favorite amongst my kids! Everyone sits in a close circle. One person will do child's pose in the middle of the circle and they are the Sleeping Lion. The Sleeping Lion has a toy (we used a hat). The teacher goes around the circle and picks someone to steal the toy from the Sleeping Lion by hiding it behind their back. Once the toy is hidden, everyone wakes up the lion by doing Lion's Breath. The Lion now has three guesses as to who has their toy. To add a challenge to the game, those in the circle can try to secretly pass the toy around without getting caught. The one who has the hat gets to be the next Sleeping Lion.
These are the top five games that my kids enjoyed playing. There are many games out and available to try with kids! Researching is a good place to start, and then try making them your own! Your kids may even have some fun game ideas as well!