The Story of Bambi*
Preparations: Arrange for the children to lie down on a blanket, mat or pillow.
Instruct the children:
“I’d like you all to lie down comfortably on the floor. Make sure you each have room to stretch out without touching each other.”
Make sure every child has enough room.
“I’m going to read you the story of Bambi, the little deer. Listen carefully and do with your body just what Bambi does.”
Read quietly and slowly:
“Imagine you are a little deer named Bambi who lives in the forest. You’ve been out for a walk in the forest and now you are tired. You decide to take a rest in a shady corner beside the stream. You are lying down resting on the soft grass.
Introduce the breathing activity:
“You may close your eyes or keep them open. Bambi stretches his whole body, then rests. Let all your muscles relax. Fill your lungs with air, and slowly, very slowly, let the air go out… and again… breathe in and out… it feels good, it feels so nice here on the grass, breathes in… out… you feel refreshed and you are ready to continue along your way.”
Invite them to focus on their forehead muscles:
“Keep lying down and imagine that you are Bambi carrying continuing to make your way through the forest, breathing comfortably, looking up to see the birds whose chirping you hear; the sun is very strong and Bambi squints his eyes and wrinkles his forehead… he looks down again, away from the sun, and then his forehead unwrinkles…he breathes slowly he thinks he saw some fruit he likes hanging high up on the tree. He looks up again. He squints and wrinkles his forehead… and then he looks down and can straighten his eyes and forehead. Let’s do what Bambi is doing – wrinkle our foreheads, squint our eyes, and then let go. Up ahead he sees a fruit tree that he really likes… he keeps going and feels better now that his eyes and forehead feel relaxed. He breathes calmly and continues on his way.”
Draw attention to jaw and return to breathing:
“Bambi reaches the fruit tree, the fruit is big and Bambi opens his mouth as wide as he can, big and strong, and feels that his mouth and jaw muscles are really tight… and then he grabs the fruit… and shuts his mouth… enjoys feeling that his mouth muscles are relaxed… and he swallows the delicious fruit and breathes comfortably… Let’s do that with Bambi. Bambi then realizes that he is still hungry so he opens his mouth big and wide – his muscles are tight… he shuts his mouth on the great big fruit… swallows… and feels that his muscles are relaxed… he then breathes slowly, very slowly… lets the lower jaw and mouth open slightly… breathe… it feels good”
Focus on the shoulder and neck muscles:
“Bambi is walking in the forest. He really likes being here in the midst of all these trees. But in order to go on he needs to get through a patch of bushes and he has to bend his shoulders and neck so that he can make it through the narrow passage… He tenses his shoulders drawing them closer together, flexes his neck and goes through… then he’s out in the open and relaxes his shoulders and stretches his neck, and breathes…”
“Oh, but here he goes again, Bambi has to go under a branch… he scrunches his neck and shoulders… and makes it through… and again he can relax his neck and shoulders… he breathes happily, feels his forehead, mouth, cheeks, neck and shoulders: they all feel good, heavy and not tight… he breathes air into his lungs… and lets it out, slowly, slowly and comfortably.
Bring attention to the arm muscles:
“Bambi has eaten a lot of fruit and now he is thirsty. He goes over to a stream of water but it is covered with heavy rocks. Bambi has to move those rocks with his paws. Can you do that too? He clenches his paws, flexes his muscles – now tense your arms just like Bambi and then relax them, and again while Bambi flexes his paws and pushes the rocks away… and now his muscles are relaxed and at ease…”
“And again, flexes his paws… really tightly, and pushes the rocks away and the muscles are once again relaxed, but there is still one rock… he flexes again and pushes it away… He breathes slowly, very slowly and drinks to his heart’s content. His paws are relaxed and lie heavily at his side…”
Focus on the stomach muscles:
“But Bambi is still hungry. He tightens his stomach really hard and it feels as a hard as a rock. He feels how those delicious fruits are stuffed into his stomach, and now he has room to eat some more tasty fruit and leaves, so he relaxes his stomach, and feels more comfortable. He breathes deeply, looks around at the nice trees and breathes, slowly, slowly… he feels hungry again and tightens his stomach again to make room for the fruit that he is going to pick soon, his stomach is tight and strong now, even a hard blow to it couldn’t hurt a stomach as hard as that, and then Bambi relaxes and feels how pleasant his body feels and how relaxed and heavy his limbs feel.”
Draw attention to the leg muscles:
“Bambi is getting tired and decides to go back to his little corner in the shade next to the stream… he flexes his legs from top to bottom till his toes, and starts running… his muscles tighten up… he stops for a moment, releases his muscles and breathes slowly, slowly… and flexes his legs again and keeps going towards the river. When he gets there he stops and rests, relaxing his legs and letting his legs feel loose and heavy on the grass.”
Expand to total body relaxation:
“Now Bambi is lying on the grass, breathing slowly, slowly, releasing the muscles that worked so hard up till now – legs, arms, shoulders, mouth, and forehead. It is really pleasant to lie there like this, to breathe slowly, to let his muscles relax, and his body feels heavy and relaxed. Bambi is tired. He’s breathing slowly, slowly… air goes in… and out… he’s nodding off… and thinks what fun it is to live here in the forest…”
After a few moments ask the children to gradually open their eyes and sit up.
Optional: At the end of the activity you can ask the children if there is anyone who’d like to share their experiences with the others. Ask questions like:
- “How does your body feel after the activity?”
- “What thoughts or feelings did you have while you were doing the activity?”
* Adapted by Esther Bamberger and Naomi Baum