Winona Mindfulness – SOAR, Mindfulness Announcements and Winona Wish

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2017

When: 2015- Present

Target Age/Grades: K-8


  1. Increase self-regulation to improve student achievement.
  2. Increase awareness of emotional well-being amongst staff, students and community.


SOAR (Self-Regulation through Outdoor Activities and Resources):

In 2015 Dana Kingdon and Laura Murray started a pilot project with a small group of grade 1 students based on Stuart Shankar’s training around self-regulation.  SOAR provides students with an outdoor education experience that builds self-regulation skills in a positive and safe outdoor learning environment leading to increased academic achievement.  SOAR continues to expand.  During the 2016/17 school year, all students in grades K-1 participated in SOAR one day a week, and next year it will be expanded to grades K-3.  This initiative was made possible through a number of funding grants, including the TD grant, Trillium grant, Shell grant and Toyota grant.

Mindfulness Announcements:

Students celebrate mindfulness in their classrooms each morning through a variety of approaches, such as calming music, videos, visualization, core breathing, writing, colouring, reading, mindful movement, playdough, etc.

Winona Wish:

Winona Wish is a whole school approach to increasing mindfulness.

“First we need to think about ourselves, then how each student can help him/herself, then how everyone in a school can think about one another!  We need to be mindful about ourselves, the people around us and work together as a family!”

All classes were asked the question of how to build community at Winona and make it a better school and the grade 7/8 Student Leadership Group helped to organize the feedback.

Winona Wish consists of monthly character assemblies, Spirit Days, recognition certificates once a week in each class for students who demonstrate kindness and good character, and monthly cross-grade community building.  In the first community team building exercise, students watched a video to inspire random acts of kindness and painted rocks to create a school wide rock path to bring students together.

Groups of students also make wishes to be posted in the front foyer and work hard to make realistic wishes come true and make Winona feel more like family/home.

“What can you do today to make a difference?”

  • Make a new friend: say hi to someone new/ask others to join in games outside
  • Say hi or hello to someone in the hall/give someone a compliment or kind note
  • Tell someone why the world is a better place because they are in it
  • “Pay it forward” – do something nice for others without expecting something in return
  • Cheering up a friend
  • Standing up for a friend who is being bullied
  • Giving a compliment and asking someone you don’t know “how is your day”
  • Pick up garbage, help someone on the playground
  • Hold the door and smile


Teacher feedback on the positive impact of morning mindfulness:

  • “Very effective for both the children and educators”.
  • “The kids truly get what the parts of the brain are doing and use the lingo constantly with each other to both encourage and solve problems”.
  • “Kids seem to really relate to characters in books and what they SHOULD have done instead!”
  • “At first it was hard to get everyone focussed…now most are focussed on their breathing. Helps most engage in learning activity in a calmer way”.
  • “Some students have actually verbalized that they used their deep breathing to calm themselves down when confronted with difficult situations. I see a difference in the days that we can’t do our cooling down and breathing after Nutrition Breaks.  Kids are too wired and can’t focus on lessons or work.”
  • “Noticeable difference in volume of collaboration that occurred after mindfulness activity. It was a much calmer and engaged discussion in groups.  (This was reported by the students themselves and observed by me).  Students reported feeling like they were more focused on the assigned tasks”.

For more information contact:

Dana Kingdon – dkingdon@hwdsb.on.ca

Laura Murray – llmurray@hwdsb.on.ca


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