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The raisin exercise dispels all previous concepts we may be harboring about

[mindfulness]. It immediately places it in the realm of the ordinary, the everyday,


the world you already know but are now going to know differently. Eating one
raisin very, very slowly allows you to drop right into the knowing in ways that
are effortless, totally natural, and entirely beyond words and thinking. Such an
exercise delivers wakefulness immediately. There is in this moment only tasting.
—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindful Eating:
The Raisin Exercise
Level: Lower Elementary (K-2)
Timeframe: 20-30 minutes
Concepts: • Attention
• Healthy Eating
• Mindfulness
Big Ideas For This Lesson
Like breathing, eating is something that we do every day and rarely give our full attention. By
guiding students through a mindful eating exercise, however, you are providing them with a direct
experience of mindfulness and an opportunity to practice each time they sit down to eat. While
the lesson may seem silly to some, (listening to a raisin – you are kidding, right?), students often
remember this as their favorite and most helpful lesson throughout the year. You will see many
“aha” moments if you suspend your disbelief and embrace the “silly” aspects of the exercise.

In addition to being a great way to learn and reinforce the practice of mindfulness, mindful eating
also encourages healthy eating habits by asking students to slow down, notice their food, and take
time eating. While this is a great stress-reliever for most students, it can be particularly helpful for
any students struggling with anxiety around food, eating, and body image issues.1,2 Mindful eating is
not a diet; rather, it is about developing a healthy relationship to eating through awareness, non-
judgment, and responsible choices.

Essential Vocabulary Materials


Awareness • Enough raisins (or small food item) for every student to
Five Senses eat two.
Mindful Eating • Copy of raisin exercise script (below).
Scan
• Mindful Eating Themed Read-Aloud (Optional):
No Ordinary Apple: A Story About Eating Mindfully
by Sara Marlowe
Or any books that deal with children and food, such as:
Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

© 2016 Empowering Education, Inc.


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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

Preparation
1. Determine an efficient and sanitary strategy for handing out two raisins to each student (e.g.,
napkins, student helpers, and hand sanitizer).

2. Review script and practice exercise on your own before teaching

Teaching Script
BUILDING BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE & CONCEPT MODELING (I DO)

Teaching Note: The best introduction to most mindfulness exercises is direct experience.
This is particularly true for mindful eating. Dive right into the experience to begin and
then check for understanding at the end of the lesson. If your class is clearly not ready for
mindfulness take a moment to practice mindful breathing or another effective transition
before starting

Hand out two raisins to each student and instruct them not to eat the raisins until they are
told to do so.

Instruct students to eat the first raisin as they would normally eat a raisin. No other prompting
is needed here.

Demonstrate eating the raisin yourself.

After students have finished eating the first raisin, tell them,

We are going to practice mindful eating with the second raisin. This is going to be very
different from how you normally eat food, so listen closely to the directions.

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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

GUIDED PRACTICE (WE DO)

Use the following Eating the Raisin Script1 to guide students through mindfully eating the
raisin. You may also opt to play the Eating the Raisin Exercise1 recording; however, students
tend to connect best to personal instruction.

However you choose to guide them, the key is to direct awareness and attention to all five senses.

a. “Place your second raisin in your hand. Imagine that you are a scientist discovering a
raisin for the first time. Better yet, imagine you are an alien from another planet and
have just landed on Earth! This raisin is the first thing you find, so we are going to
explore it using all of our senses. “
b. “First we will use our sense of sight. Lift the raisin up so that you can see it clearly.
Focus all of your attention on really seeing the raisin. Scan it with your vision,
exploring every little ridge, bump, and surface.”
c. “Hold it in your fingers and notice how many colors you can see.”

d. “Notice all of the different shapes. Hold it up to the light and notice any lighter or
darker spots.”
e. “Next, we will use our sense of touch. Close your eyes and explore the raisin using
just your sense of touch. What textures do you notice? Is it hard or soft? Smooth or
rough? Really take your time and focus your attention on feeling the texture of
the raisin.”
f. “You may notice thoughts arising, like, ‘This is weird,’ or ‘Why are we doing this?’ or
even, ‘I hate raisins!’ These thoughts are normal. See if you can simply notice these
thoughts, let them go, and then bring all of your attention back to the raisin. You
may notice your emotions and thoughts changing as you are able to focus more
attention on the raisin.”
g. “Now we will explore it with our sense of smell. Have you ever smelled a raisin?
Move the raisin beneath your nose and very gently notice any smells. What does
it smell like? Does it remind you of anything? Focus your awareness on the smell of
the raisin and let all other thoughts go.”
h. “Next, we will explore the raisin with our sense of hearing. You might laugh and
think raisins do not make any noises, but have you ever listened to a raisin? Bring
the raisin to one ear, close your eyes, get really quiet, and then use all of your
attention to listen to the raisin. Gently squeeze it, roll it around, and try to notice if
there is any sound coming from the raisin.”

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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

i. “Finally, we will explore the raisin with our sense of taste! Very slowly place the raisin
on your tongue without chewing it. Close your eyes and your mouth and let the
raisin rest on your tongue. Focus all of your attention on any tastes or textures
you can notice with your tongue. Roll the raisin around in your mouth and then
very slowly take just one bite. What do you notice? Pay attention to the details.
Take another bite. Then another.”
j. “Notice when your brain tells you it is time to swallow and then see if you can use
your senses to notice how it feels to swallow a raisin. Imagine the raisin moving
down your throat and into your belly.”
k. “You may even take a moment to reflect on the long journey this raisin took to get
to your belly. The grape seed that grew into a plant. The farmer who picked the
grapes and dried them in the sun. The truck driver who drove your raisin across the
country to the grocery store. The store clerk who put it on the shelf. Your teacher
who bought the raisin and brought it to you. And finally, the journey it took from
your hand, to your mouth, to your stomach, where it is now giving you the same
energy it took from the sun as it grew. How often do we really think about where
our food comes from?”
l. “Take a moment to notice how it feels to eat mindfully. Notice any sensations in
your body and any changes in your thoughts or emotions. Give yourself a pat on
the back for trying something new!”

REINFORCING LESSON CONCEPTS (YOU DO)

Once you have finished the exercise, facilitate a class reflection, small group reflections, or
journal session using the following questions:

• What did you notice?


• What differences did you notice between eating the first raisin and then eating the
second raisin?
• Were you surprised by anything?
• Did you notice any thoughts or emotions arise? Were you able to let go of your
thoughts and just explore the raisin?
• What did this feel like?

Finally, end by drawing the connection between mindful eating and other forms of
mindfulness. All mindfulness is a practice in paying attention, so we can really be mindful
of anything! Encourage students to practice mindful eating on their own - whether they
choose to eat a whole meal mindfully or just a few bites.

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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

EVIDENCE OF CONCEPT ATTAINMENT

Reflect on it Journal it

• What did you notice? Have students complete the Mindful


• What differences did you notice Eating: SEL Journal Page for this lesson.
between eating the first raisin and then
eating the second raisin?
• Were you surprised by anything?
• Did you notice any thoughts or
emotions arise? Were you able to let
go of your thoughts and just explore
the raisin?
• What did this feel like?
• How is mindful eating similar to other
forms of mindfulness we have learned?
• What did this teach you about
mindfulness?

EXTENSIONS

Classroom School-wide

• Turn snack time into mindful eating time. • Post reminders about how to eat
• When you eat lunch with your students, mindfully in the cafeteria.
take a few minutes to “eat mindfully” • Connect mindful eating with any other
with them. units on healthy eating and food,
particularly those that support the Health
• Consider mindful eating as a coping
Standards for your grade level.
strategy for escalated students. Keep
some raisins on hand for students to • Examine the school-wide lunch schedule.
use in the take-a-break-space. Is there enough time provided for
students to eat mindfully?
• Teach students the song, Dirt Made
My Lunch3 and use it for transitions or
brain breaks!

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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

REFERENCES

1. Clark, G. (2015). Mindfully Eating a Raisin. Retrieved August 5, 2015, from


http://www.mbsrtraining.com/mindfully-eating-a-raisin-exercise/

2. Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010). A mindfulness-based stress reduction workbook.


New Harbinger Publications

3. Banana Slug String Band. (2015, January 25). Dirt Made My Lunch. Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySzSVu1eERo

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MINDFUL EATING | GRADES K-2

Mindful Eating
You used your 5 senses to mindfully eat the raisin!
Write a describing word for each sense.

Images from:
http://calraisins.org/raisins-and-your-health/health-benefits-raisin/
http://mathieu.agopian.info/presentations/2015_06_djangocon_europe/
http://freedesignfile.com/tag/mouth/http://science-all.com/eyes-clipart.html
http://www.freepik.com/free-icon/five-fingers-silhouette_747400.htm
http://www.easyeartraining.com/

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