30 Mindfulness Activities for Kids
Mindfulness is the act of being aware of the present moment while having control of your emotions, feelings, thoughts, and body sensations. For children, learning to be aware of and regulate thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations can be challenging in certain settings. Self-awareness and self-control are two very important social-emotional skills that can be reinforced with young children to help with their well-being.
Some of the benefits of mindfulness activities are that they can help children focus and pay attention, recognize how their body feels and what they need, calmly react to stressful situations, and increase positive self image. Mindfulness is also extremely helpful for children with learning disabilities such as ADHD and Autism as it can increase focus and regulate emotional responses.
These 30 fun mindfulness activities can be added into your kids daily routine to help create positive mental health, increased self-control, and positive self-esteem. Young children thrive off of routine, so we recommend building various mindfulness activities into your day-to-day schedule and have fun while mastering these positive tools. We’ve broken them down by the 5 senses, since mindfulness requires you to tap into all of your 5 senses as you regulate all of your body.
Mindfulness Activities with Sight
- Glitter Jar - Fill a glass jar ¾ full with water, fill the rest with glue, food coloring and glitter. When feeling anxious, or needing a break, have your child shake the glitter jar and try to sit still and focus until all of the glitter has settled to the bottom.
- Sending Kind Thoughts - Have your children visualize 4 different people that are important to them. Have them close their eyes, visualize one person at a time, and quietly send them a kind thought.
- Color Your Feelings - Offer your kids various colors of crayons, markers, or paint and have them color what they are feeling. See if they choose various colors for different emotions they are having. Art is a great outlet for releasing big feelings.
- Cloud Shapes - Lay outside and look up at the sky. Try to identify shapes or objects in the clouds. This is a relaxing way to unwind and tap into the creative side of your brain.
- Pinwheel Breathing - Have your kids blow onto a pinwheel and observe how it spins depending on how much breath they use. They can observe how it may change direction, how it speeds up and slows down, and how they need to regulate their breath to find the right speed.
- Mindfulness Worksheets - If you have older children you can use many free printable worksheets found online to work on mindfulness. You can also have them complete each sentence on a sheet of paper: “Right now I hear...Right now I see...Right now I smell...Right now I feel...Right now I taste…”
- Do a Body Scan - Have your children lay down and then scan through their body from their head down to their toes and recognize how each part feels. As they pinpoint and focus on each part of their body encourage them to sink down and relax each muscle.
- Mirror Image - Have your children stand in front of you and try to imitate various movements that you make. Slowly move your arms, balance on different legs, stretch your muscles, or do yoga poses. They will focus on being able to move their bodies to match the poses you choose. Switch and let them be the leader.
- Create Calm Down Cards - Help your children make a set of calm down cards that can be kept close by when a reminder is needed. On each card have them color in a picture of activity choices that help them feel calm. Some suggestions are reading a book, taking deep breaths, asking for a hug, squeezing a stuffed animal, closing their eyes, getting a drink of water, coloring a picture, or doing some yoga.
Mindfulness Activities with Touch
- Heart Beat - Have children do jumping jacks or run laps for one full minute. Then have them stop, close their eyes, and place their hand on their chest. Have them feel how hard their heart is beating, and recognize how it changes as it slows down. Learning how their physical body feels as it regulates is a great technique to tap into.
- Muscle Relaxation - Have your children tense and release large muscle groups and set at a time. Start at your feet and work your way up the body flexing and releasing muscles. Children will be able to feel any stress or tension releasing as they work each muscle.
- Yoga Poses - Yoga is a great way to teach body awareness and control to children. As they hold their body in different poses they will have to focus on balance, control, and strength. Yoga encourages being quiet and calm while physically working your various muscles.
- Buddy Breathing - Have your children lay down, and place a stuffed animal on their chest/belly. Have them slowly take deep breaths in, hold for a few seconds, and then release. They can watch their stuffed buddy raise and lower as they learn to regulate their breathing.
- Take a Walk - Take a walk together, and find various items with different textures. Stop to find a smooth stone, a bumpy pinecone, a soft flower petal, rough bark, prickly grass, etc.
- Kinetic Sand - Kinetic Sand can have calming effects when played with. You can mold and shape kinetic sand, or softly watch it fall through your fingers in a magical way.
- Blow Bubbles - Bubbles are a great way to practice breathing exercises, and children get enjoyment out of popping them. Mindful breathing and self-regulation are needed to be able to produce bubbles, and gentle sensory engagement is used for popping them bubbles as they float back down.
Mindfulness Activities with Smell
- Cook or Bake Together - Try a cooking activity together in the kitchen. Have children smell the various ingredients, such as different spices, and see how they all come together. The warm smells that come from something baking in the oven can have a great calming effect.
- Blindfolded Smell Test - Blindfold your children and present them with various smells to try and identify. You can place extracts onto cotton balls, use flowers, dryer sheets, foods, or perfumes to give a variety of smells. Little ones will need to focus all of their attention on the smell, and see if they can identify what it is.
- What Can I Smell? - Take a walk, or travel to various places and ask your children to stop, close their eyes, and focus on what they can smell. Sometimes we do not recognize smells unless they are overpowering.
- What Smells Do I Like - Have your children list some of their favorite smells and how they make them feel. The smell of fresh baked cookies, the smell of an ocean breeze, the smell of Grandma’s house are all ideas of what might induce happy and calm thoughts. When a child feels stressed or anxious, they can close their eyes and imagine their favorite smells to help self-regulate.
Mindfulness Activities with Taste
- Mindful Eating - All kids love an activity that involves food! Offer kids a snack, but have them really focus on the flavors, textures, and feeling of the food as they slowly chew and swallow.
- Blindfolded Taste Test - Blindfold your child and offer them various foods to try. They will need to work to focus their attention on the flavors and textures as they try to identify different foods.
- No Chewing - Offer various foods to your child, and encourage them to hold it in their mouth, savoring the flavors, for as long as they can before they chew. This can be something that will melt, like a piece of chocolate or hard candy, or it can be something like a berry that will change flavors once chewed. This is a great activity for practicing self-control and focus.
- Get a Cold Drink of Water - Sometimes just getting a cool drink of water can help calm us down. Practice mindfulness with your children with a glass of water, and a few ice cubes if you wish. Have them focus on how the cold water feels as they drink it, how the ice cubes sound clinking in the glass and how the condensation looks as it drips down the cup.
Mindfulness Activities with Sound
- Breathing Activities - Find a comfortable spot to sit down, either inside or outside. Have your children close their eyes and slowly take deep breaths for one minute. Have them focus on any sounds they hear around them, and how their breathing feels.
- Take a Walk - Take a walk outside and focus on the various sounds you hear. Look for birds, animals, airplanes, leaves rustling, cars passing by, etc. See if you can recognize what is making a noise before visually being able to find it.
- Paint to Music - Put on different types of music and let your children paint. Have them recognize how different music makes them feel and how their painting technique may change based on various music.
- Guided Meditation - Pop on a guided meditation from YouTube or a Kids Podcast. This is especially helpful when winding down before bedtime as it walks children through how to slow down, relax, and practice basic mindfulness meditation.
- Mindful Listening - Have your children sit and close their eyes, take a bell or small instrument and make a soft single noise near them, and have them point to the direction of the sound. Gradually move further away from them, so they need to really focus on where the sound is coming from. This is a fun way to focus on the sense of hearing and can be done with children as young as preschoolers.
- Dragon Breathing - Have your children take a deep breath in, fill their belly, and hold it for a few seconds. Have them pretend to be a dragon and breathe out their fire on a long exhale. Do they hear a whooshing sound as they let their breath out? Deep breathing can be a powerful tool and this is a great way to make it fun.