Lesson plan

One Thing at a Time

In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of doing one thing at a time and listen to the book *What Does It Mean to Be Present?*. Then, they will experience the inefficiency of multitasking by doing three things at once.
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Students understand the benefits of doing one thing at a time rather than multitasking.

(10 minutes)
  • Join the class in a circle, either seated on a rug or in chairs.
  • Act out a scene where you attempt to do three things at once, such as cleaning the board, checking emails, and looking at papers.
  • Ask the students to notice what you are doing, and how you are doing it.
  • Ask them to watch you again. However, this time, complete each task one at a time with full focus and attention.
  • Ask the class what they noticed. How was the second time different from the first?
  • Ask if they think it's better to complete three things at once, or one thing at a time, and have them explain their answers.
(15 minutes)
  • Show students the book What Does it Mean to be Present? by Rana DiOrio.
  • Read the story to them, and pause periodically to check for comprehension.
  • After reading the book, ask, "What do you think it means to be present?"
  • Write, "What it means to be present" on the board. Then, write the ideas (and images) students share.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain to students that, as a class, they will participate in a mindful walking exercise to practice doing one thing at a time and bringing full attention to the present moment.
  • Ask them to stand with still bodies in the circle, and to take a few breaths deep into their bellies. Have them imagine they are filling their bellies with air, like balloons.
  • Have students slowly raise their right arm and feel the air across their skin. (Demonstrate how to do this.) Ask them to also feel the weight of their arm as it moves up and down slowly. (You can also guide them to use anchor words by saying "lifting...lowering" in their minds.)
  • Guide them to do the same thing with their left arm, right foot, and then left foot.
  • Explain that they will now walk in a circle, stepping one foot at a time in one direction.
  • Guide them to turn to the right and to slowly lift their right foot. (Model this for them.)
  • Ask the learners to feel their foot as it lifts, then as it lowers. Tell them to imagine that they are mice walking as quietly and as slowly as they can.
  • Continue guiding them to walk like this for 2–3 minutes. Then, you may switch directions.
  • Tell the class to pause and face the center of the circle.
  • Ask, "What did you notice when walking with mindfulness and focusing on one thing at a time? How does this connect to the story?"
(40 minutes)
  • Tell the class that they will be working at three different stations to practice some of the things that were mentioned in the story.
  • Explain and show students the three stations:
    1. Appreciation Station: Students will draw pictures of things they appreciate. Read through the instructions of the Doing One Thing at a Time worksheet, and model how to complete the activity.
    2. Matching Game: Place three matching games out for three groups of students. Demonstrate how they can patiently wait for their turn by practicing belly breathing, feeling your feet in your shoes, or some other form of mindfulness.
    3. Mindful Walking: Model how they can practice mindful walking (similar to the mindful walking exercise you just completed as a class). Focus on being in the present.
  • Explain that they will have 10 minutes at each station.
  • Separate the class into three groups, and dismiss them to begin working at their stations.
  • Announce each time the 10 minutes are up and they need to rotate stations.


  • Ask advanced students to lead the mindful walking station.
  • If students finish early, have them create their own book about what it means to be present, including writing and drawings.

Support: Work one-on-one with some students at the stations.

(5 minutes)
  • Observe students as they collaborate at the stations, and check their understanding of being in the present.
  • Collect and review their Doing One Thing at a Time worksheets.
(10 minutes)
  • Bring the class back together in a circle.
  • Ask, "What are some of your takeaways from today's lesson? What will you try to remember moving forward?"
  • Ask them what it means to be present. How does being present help us in class, in school, or with friends and family?
  • Tell students to practice mindful walking again today (focusing on one thing, like the feeling of their toes touching the ground).
  • Ask, "When is another time we can practice mindfulness, or focusing on one thing at a time?" Explain that we can practice mindfulness and being present at any time!

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