Written by Jess Judd and narrated by Chanel Tsang
For our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, the part of the world that is below the equator, it is autumn. Here’s a special autumn relaxation story for you! Let the beautiful colours of autumn leaves fill your imagination as we toss and make leaf angels in them! You will need a lot of room for this one, so make sure there is enough space around you before you begin.
A relaxation story for children aged 5 - 12.
Good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening. Welcome to Peace Out, stories for calming down and relaxation. I wonder where in the world you are right now. In some places in the world it is nighttime, however in other places children are getting out of bed and ready for school. Even the seasons are different in different parts of the world.
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of the world above the equator. It includes places like North America, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, most of Asia, and the northern parts of Africa and South America. For those places, it is spring right now. The flowers are blooming, and the days are getting hotter and longer. It is autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, the half of the world below the equator, in places like the southern parts of Africa and Asia, Antarctica, Australia, most of South America, and New Zealand. The days are getting colder and shorter. The leaves on the trees have been slowly changing colour from green, to yellow and brown, and then falling to the ground.
I’m in Canada, so I’m really enjoying our spring weather right now, but one of my favourite things to do in autumn is playing in piles of leaves. Today we're going to take a trip to the park and play in the leaves. We're going to do things a little differently today. I want you to stand up nice and tall if you can. You will need a little bit of space around you so if you are listening in your classroom or your bedroom make sure that you're not too close to other people or furniture. Make sure that your feet are right below your shoulders. Stand tall and strong. Relax your arms by your sides. Close your eyes. Roll your shoulders back, and lift up your chin so that it is parallel to the floor.
As I do the Calm Down Countdown, try breathing in as I say each number, breathing out in between.
We're at the park now. Can you feel the warmth of the sun? Tilt your head up to the sky and imagine the warm sun shining on your face. Now tilt your head down. See those leaves at your feet? They look really crunchy. Can you try crunching them with your toes? Wiggle your toes and then scrunch them together to crunch up the leaves. Crunch, crunch, crunch.
Uh oh, the wind is blowing. I think it's going to blow some more leaves down off the trees. Take your hands from your sides and sweep them upwards, like the wind through the trees. Now keep them stretching right up high, reaching towards the sky. You look a little bit like a tree. Stretch your fingers out and keep reaching.
Now take a deep breath in…..and as you let your breath out, bend your knees slightly and fold your arms and body down at the waist, like you’re folding your entire body in half. Let your tummy rest on your thighs and your head and arms hang down. Let’s just hang here for a moment, feel gravity pulling at the weight of your head toward the ground. You can swing back and forth a little if you want, just don’t lose your balance!
If you’re swinging, slowly come to a stop. Use your imagination to see all the autumn leaves at your feet. There are golden yellows, bright oranges, bold reds, and earthy browns. The colours are so warm and bright. Reach your hands down to the ground, or as low as you can go. Can you pick up some of those crunchy leaves? Pretend to grab some in your hands. And now, slowly roll your body up starting at your waist, moving up vertebrae by vertebrae until your back is straight and you’re standing tall and strong again. Once you're standing straight again you can fling those leaves into the air! Imagine the riot of colour and rustling sound that the leaves make as they shower to the ground.
Let's do it once more. Sweep your arms right up to the sky, stretching as far up as you can go. Take a deep breath in, bend your knees slightly and fold your body down and pick up some leaves. Hold on tight to those leaves! Now slowly roll your body back up…and once you're standing up straight fling those leaves up into the air again. Beautiful!
Now, have you ever made a snow angel before? Why don’t we try and make a leaf angel? Slowly lower yourself down to the ground and then lay on your back.
Close your eyes. Take a big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. One more time, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Bring both knees up and squeeze them to your chest. Take a deep breath in, and then let it out as you slowly stretch your legs out onto the ground and lower your arms down to your sides.
Ready to make a leaf angel? Stretch out your legs and arms so that you look like a star. Start moving your arms and legs now, making your leaf angel! Try breathing in as your arms and legs point straight and breathe out as you move them out to the sides.
As you continue to make leaf angels at your own pace, I wanted to ask if you knew why leaves change colour in autumn? The trees that have leaves that will drop off are called deciduous trees. Leaves are in charge of making food for the trees. The leaves have a chemical called chlorophyll, which absorbs the sunlight in the spring and summer and turns it into tree food. Chlorophyll is what also gives the leaves its green colour.
However, when autumn begins, the temperature begins to drop and the days become shorter, which means less sunlight. The chlorophyll begins to break down and the leaves lose its green colour. The other pigments which were also there to begin with, such as yellow, orange, red, and brown, start to show.
Alright, I think everyone is finished by now. Look at those leaf angels! Brilliant!
Let’s stretch out one last time, this time leave your legs out so that your feet are further apart than your shoulders. Take your hands and bring them to your sides, palms facing up. You can wiggle your shoulders under you to make this a little more comfortable if you need to. Take a deep breath in and as you let it out, feel your entire body relax, loosen, and sink further into the ground.
I hope you enjoyed our time at the park today. Do you have a park near your home? Or a playground at school? Maybe today, or on the weekend, you can go out and play at the park or on the playground. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe you can go jumping in piles of leaves and make a real leaf angel. Or if you are in the Northern Hemisphere maybe you could go looking for new flowers or plants that are starting to grow. Wherever you are, I hope you have a chance to see and touch and smell the trees and plants all around you. Trees are amazing. They clean the air, they provide us shade, and they’re home to so many animals, birds, and insects.
I’ll leave you with the first line from one of my favourite nature poems, Trees by Joyce Kilmar.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Until next time, peace out, and peace within.
This episode of Peace Out was narrated by me, Chanel Tsang, and written by Jess Judd. You can listen to Jess’ other stories or hear her narrate over at the Story Time podcast. Thank you, Jess! Thanks also to Rob Griffiths, for producing Peace Out.
Next week is our final episode of Peace Out, Season One. If you’d like to listen to our past episodes, you can find them at bedtime.fm/peaceout or on itunes, googleplay, and stitcher. Thanks again for listening!
Did you enjoy this story? Why not take a look at some of our other children‘s relaxational and mindfulness stories?