Review by Diane Darrow, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014
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Smiling Mind

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Quick and easy meditation practice for busy classroom lives

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
8-12 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Integrates daily meditation into a classroom routine and lets kids to choose when and where they want to practice.

Cons: Creating an account requires a student or parent email address, and it's not possible to disable the social network options.

Bottom Line: This easy-to-follow meditation program can help reduce stress and support social and emotional learning.

With regular use, kids can develop ways to refocus, cope with confrontations, and develop empathy. When students need a few minutes away from an escalating problem, offer Smiling Mind as a conflict resolution choice. Sitting with this app for five minutes provides time to stop, breathe, calm down, and handle problems more effectively. Young adults can learn to manage school-related stress. Take time to meditate with the app before class, or before an exam. Smiling Mind will nicely compliment any social and emotional learning program. The developer's website is full of additional activities and resources kids and adults will both find valuable.

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Smiling Mind is a great introduction to meditation. Simply locate a comfortable spot, plug in earphones, and press play. Since kids practice privately, there's no need to worry about leading meditation circles full of nervous giggles. The app offers a chance to feel comfortable with meditation alone first. Each lesson is a sequential step towards learning how to meditate. A soothing Australian voice guides you through calming breathing exercises and visualizations. Each audio track lasts between five and 15 minutes. As kids move forward, they unlock badges and a history of progress is recorded. Informed by youth psychologists, each age range is sensitive to developmental needs. While a narrated “bubble journey” shows the younger set how to breathe, young adults have access to suicide prevention resources. The program only runs for 10 weeks, but there are plenty of extension activities.

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Through Smiling Mind’s guided meditation exercises, kids gain strategies to help them cope with stress and stay calm. With continued practice, this skill can last a lifetime. Although the app is self-guided, it's important to take time to reflect on individual progress and discuss the emotional impact of daily practice. The account set-up procedures require additional time. Smiling Mind is an Australian program; therefore, birth dates are entered with the day first and then month. Emails are required for every account including those of parents or guardians for the 7–11 year old group. It's assumed that kids age 12-15 already have their own email accounts. Facebook and Twitter are fully integrated and can't be disabled. Although the app nicely targets the developmental needs of a wide age range, the social network sharing and account requirements make it best suited for ages 13 and up.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Kids will find this app easy to use. The design reflects the same sense of clarity and focus it intends to promote. The accent of the meditation guide is Australian, but his voice is calming and easy to understand.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
5

Through regular guided practice, kids can learn strategies to calm their minds, focus, and stay in the moment. Mindfulness skills learned can carry over into daily life.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

As the length of each session increases, a history of progress and emotions is recorded. Kids earn a badge after completing a meditation exercise. No closed captioning is included. The one voice choice is available only in English.


Common Sense Reviewer
Diane Darrow Researcher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Leah K. , Other
Other
Cobb County School District
Marietta, GA
3
Great tool to teach meditation!

As a teaching tool in a course that deals with stress and consciousness, Smiling Mind is great. It definitely has potential for use with students who have emotional and behavioral disorders too as a means of calming and refocusing their minds on something more positive. In terms of applications in a regular classroom with other academic subjects, I am not sure that it has much application.

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