Empowering Students With Mindfulness Backgrounds: Fostering Ownership and Purpose

By designing mindfulness backgrounds, students can reflect on the significance of iPads in their classroom and help cultivate an educational mindset. Backgrounds are often underutilized and can serve as powerful tools for setting goals, providing reminders, and nurturing purposeful mindsets.

For my teachers, iPad backgrounds can be a constant frustration and in many cases distract from learning. Instead of fighting this or locking backgrounds we have tried to embrace it and offer purposeful ways for students to utilize their screens to set the stage for getting ready to learn. To begin with I have students create mindfulness backgrounds. This activity allows me to set the stage for the purpose of iPads in the school environment, reflect on how images can distract us or help motivate and the perception of family and community of why we have them.

Here are the steps I take to create Mindfulness Backgrounds with my students:

The Why & Brainstorm

  • We are creating mindfulness backgrounds to put us in a ready mindset for learning
  • Why don't we want to have a Fortnite or similar photos as a background?
  • It could distract us from our learning goals, others like family or community could perceive the iPad as just for games and not a tool for learning... etc
  • We don't have permission to use some of these photos
  • Let's Brainstorm environments that make us calm and have few distractions
  • Write student ideas on board: Beach, Space, Woods, Library, Field, Waterfalls.. etc

Find Background Photos

This is a great way to introduce copyright and creative commons to students at all levels. My district has a subscription to Britannica Image Quest but there are many free image libraries out there. For elementary we also like Kiddle (Kimages) and Pics4Learning.

  • Save multiple images to your Photos App


An iPad with an image search engine showing an image of stars in space with a save photo button

Start to Create Your Background in Keynote

This is the part where we create our background and imagine ourselves in the photo we found online. I like to have students create this from scratch instead of a template because it helps them practice the tools and gain transferable skills. For younger learners you can also use the template below that can make it easier if you share through Apple Classroom.

Adding Your Background Image

  • Have students Open Keynote - Tap "+" - Create New Theme - Tap Standard Basic White
  • Have students remove the "Presentation Subtitle" and "Author and Date" subtitle boxes by tapping once on each text box and selecting delete
  • Tap the Image icon at the top - Select Photo or Video - Tap your desired background image
  • Resize the image to cover the entire slide
  • If you want to use the Text Box you will need to arrange the photo and "move it to the back" by tapping the Image on the screen- Tap the Paint Brush - Tap Arrange Tab - Move Slider to Back



Adding Student Photo to Background

This is when students get to add themselves to the photo. Restate the why for creating this photo and have students brainstorm possible mindful poses to use when adding. For this session all you need is a solid color wall or green screen.

  • Partner students up to take photos of each other using the Camera App. It is best to model this and have students take their time
  • Students will then go back into Keynote to add the photo
  • Tap the Image Icon at the top
  • Tap Add Photo or Video
  • Tap Desired Student Photo
  • Tap on the Photo again in your Keynote presentation and Tap Remove background from the popup menu
  • Tap "Done" at the bottom of the image
  • Move the Image around and adjust size



Add a Mindful Description, Statement or Title

  • Double Tap on the Title Text Box to Edit
  • Add Text
  • Tap on the Paint Brush in the top left to change font, color, size, etc


GIF of Multiple different examples of text. Let's Go, Let's Work, You Got This, Growth Mindset, Be Silly Be Honest Be Kind

Save Your Image to the Photos App

The next part is probably the most difficult for younger students. You need to export the image and save to Photos. An alternative would be to hit the "Play" button in Keynote, which will put your image in full screen and then take a screenshot.

  • To export your new image tap the "Sharrow" (Square with an arrow pointing up)
  • Tap "Export and Send"
  • Tap "Images"
  • Leave all options alone and tap "Export" (Top Right Corner)
  • Tap "Save Image"

This will add this newly created image to your Photos app.


Add Your New Background!

Since we are done making our Mindfulness Background, it's time to add it to our iPad!

  • Open the Photos App
  • Find your Mindfulness Background
  • Tap the "Sharrow" (Square with the arrow pointing up)
  • Tap "Use As Wallpaper"
  • Adjust your image by pinching in or out
  • Tap "Add"
  • Set Background!


Now that you've created your mindfulness background, I hope you see the possibilities of how backgrounds can positively impact student mindsets and ownership. You can add various other elements like schedules, learning targets, and learning goals to make iPad backgrounds even more meaningful and engaging for students.

Please share any other ideas or ways you use iPad backgrounds to enhance student engagement and focus.

*The attached Template can be used to skip may creation steps for students in Keynote.


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