Teaching Impermanence

Unit Plan

Teaching Impermanence

About This Resource

Summary A unit plan for teaching children about the truth of impermanence.
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Rigpé Yeshé: Session on Impermanence

For children from 8 to 12 years old

Learning Objectives

Children reflect on change and impermanence and learn that accepting change can help us to let go of grasping and attachment, and so to suffer less.

Learning Evaluation

Check their understanding of change and impermanence, and how letting go can help

Materials & Preparation

  • YouTube videos (links below)
  • Story – Freddie the Leaf OR Teaching on Impermanence (links below)
  • Notebooks  
  • Coloured Sand for Mandalas

Session Plan

Welcome children at door

Welcome and greet the children individually at the door.

Play one of the following YouTube lifecycle videos as children enter the room:

Acorn to Oak

Flowers Blooming

Lotus Flower timelapse

Motivation, Meditation

Short Meditation Watching the Breath

A Story of Impermanence

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, by Leo Buscaglia

This story by Leo Buscaglia is a warm, wonderfully wise and strikingly simple story about a leaf named Freddie. How Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter’s snow, is an inspiring allegory illustrating the delicate balance between life and death.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a warm and thought-provoking story and both children and adults will be deeply touched by this inspiring book.

Listen to audio reading of this story

Contemplation on Impermanence

Play some relaxing music or nature sounds.

Guide the children in this contemplation:

Settle and relax your body and mind, be comfortable.

Close your eyes. Lie down, if you like.

Think of what mattered to you when you were a baby … when you started school … what is important to you now … what will be important to you when you are a grown up … then when you are old … Is there anything in your life that is not constantly changing? … Is there anything at all that is not constantly changing?


How much time do you spend getting things you don’t really need? … How much time do you spend worrying unnecessarily? … How much time do you spend waiting for things to happen?

How much time do you spend on really meaningful things?

How would you act differently if you really took impermanence to heart?


Let go of all thoughts and analysis and rest for a moment.

Now rest your mind

Options for Creative Integration

Nature Mandala

Go for a walk, choose a place to sit, notice everything around you, make a mandala using objects around you, then take a gallery walk to see each other’s art works.

You could also do a Nature Mandala together as a group and then reflect on its impermanent quality.

OR Sand Mandalas

Using sand mixed with coloured chalks, prepare a large design for children to ‘colour in’ together. You could play relaxing music or a mantra in the background while children are working on the mandala.

OR Impermanence Discussion
Small Group Discussion, each group with a mentor

What other sorts of things change? Are changes good or bad?

What has changed in you since you were born?

Why do things change?

What would it be like if things did not change at all?

Is there anything that does not change?

Is there a part of you that never changes, never dies? (refer to the unending nature of mind)

Feedback to larger group

OR Impermanence Role Play

Alien from planet where nothing ever changes, debates with earthlings which way is best: everything changing or nothing changing. Children take turns in different roles

Insight Books

Add the following “Words of Wisdom” to your notebook:

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.”
– Pema Chödrön 


Short Meditation & Dedication

Continuing throughout the day

Start to notice all the things that are changing in you (how you feel, look, sound, where you are…) and around you, during the day.




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