25 Mindfulness Activities for Kindergarten
Mindful activities are significant for building self-awareness, concentration, emotional intelligence, coping skills, empathy and more! Learning these skills when kids are young sets them up for success throughout their lives, not just the immediate scenario you’re addressing.
1. Taking Deep Breaths
Practicing mindful mediation can be helpful, even in as young as preschool-aged children. Try having them focus on their breath going in and out of their nose while using calming music or nature sounds as background noise. This activity will help kids feel calm and be more aware of their thoughts and actions.
2. Stop and Wiggle
Get the kids to stop in their tracks when they feel anxious, excited, or frustrated. Ask them to breathe in deeply and then let it out slowly while shaking their arms and legs for a moment (like they’re making snow angels). This activity will help them calm down so that they can work through their feelings healthily.
3. Mindful Listening
Give each child their own mindfulness bell and ask them to ring it whenever they need some quiet time, or just want the class to be silent for a moment. Before you start your mindfulness lesson, let everyone practice ringing the bells so that they will know what sound it makes when someone needs time to reflect.
4. Mindful Thoughts
Ask the kids to sit in a circle and give each of them an object like a stone, stick, or ball (not too big). Let everyone hold this toy for one minute while they focus on sitting still and concentrating on their breathing. Here, it’s good to teach them that even in their thoughts, they need to be mindful of how they think about certain situations and people.
5. Jack be Nimble
Play games during your mindfulness sessions with the kids. One fun game is called “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” where you get them to walk around in a circle while they focus on their breathing and try not to bump into anyone or anything.
Take some time during mindfulness activities for kindergarteners each week to have the kids draw self-portraits. This art activity will help them get in touch with their emotions and teach them how to express themselves creatively! Kids can paint how they think of themselves and those around them while concentrating on an activity that stimulates the mind.
7. Dance Party
Turn on some soothing music for mindfulness activities for kindergarteners, like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or something relaxing from your favorite yoga playlist. Play games while the kids dance, like making them do a pose every time you change songs. This will help them be more aware of their surroundings and other people in their space while providing movement and stimulation.
8. Sensory Bottles
Sensory bottles for kindergarteners can be done in small groups or even individually! Fill a glass bottle with rice and add different objects from around your house to make patterns on top of it (like buttons, sequins, glitter and more). Let the kids shake the bottles until they’re calm or focused.
9. Mindfulness Rocks
Fill a jar with rocks that have different feelings on them like “calm,” “happiness,” “peaceful” and others. Each time kindergarteners feel a certain way, they can select a mindfulness rock from the jar and think about what it means. In doing this, you’re asking them to reflect on how they feel. Encourage them to think about how they’re feeling and how it could impact others around them.
Art is a great class project! Ask the kids to draw what mindfulness looks like to them and then hang their artwork on your wall after it dries. You could even have an art contest where each child gets a prize for drawings that speak the most to mindfulness and how important it is! Encourage them to think about what they’re drawing and why they feel that way.
11. Muscle Relaxation
Most of us, including kids, aren’t always aware of the muscles in our body and how they feel or move. Practice this with kids to teach them when to know their body is stressed or tense. This will teach them how to tense and relax their muscles while being mindful of themselves. Self-awareness is key to this activity.
12. Glitter Jars
Take a mason jar and try filling it with water, glitter, and other various objects. This is a great tool for those kids who need a physical outlet when overstimulated or upset. This is also a craft project you can do with them to keep them occupied. The finished product is something they’ll be proud of and gain confidence in building coping and mindfulness tools.
10 Ways to Help Students Who Worry
Mindfulness with middle schoolers: a piece of cake or labor of love? I’ve had loads of fun teaching mindfulness to elementary-aged students, but when I first threw out the idea to some of my middle schoolers, they looked at me like I had three heads. I knew that buy-in would be a little tougher with this age group (but totally worth the effort). Keep reading to find out how I hooked my students’ interest and the middle school mindfulness activities that my students actually enjoyed.
We know adolescents need mindfulness, but how do we get them engaged? How do we get buy-in? Elementary students jump at the chance to breathe like a butterfly or do a silly animal-themed yoga activity. But middle schoolers aren’t always the easiest to engage! One thing is reliable, though: adolescents love to know why. Why are we doing this? Why does this matter?
When introducing the concept of mindfulness, I begin by having my students create a problem list. What are their stressors? What are the things causing turmoil in their lives right now? I ask them to be as specific as possible. Is it just homework in general or one specific assignment? What about that assignment is troubling? Is it hard to complete a project that large? Is it hard to work in a group? We go on like this for a while. As you can imagine, this list is often long!
Students identify problems like interpersonal conflict, feeling stressed by schoolwork, being overwhelmed by responsibilities and extracurricular activities, feeling like they don’t fit it, and the list goes on.
Then, I challenge students to think of or find one solution that could help tackle all of the problems on the list. Students do a bit of research using iPads. We spend a lesson or session doing this task and the students report their findings which often range from silly things like quitting school to thoughtful responses like seeking therapy.
At this point, I introduce the concept of mindfulness, but I don’t just tell students what it is and tell them that it will help. I show them the research. I show them studies about how mindfulness improves memory and attention, lowers stress levels, increases happiness, and promotes social connections and altruism. Then I give them the studies to review and then give them space to research it on their own for a few minutes. When they are given the opportunity to review actual research and see facts and figures from studies, adolescents are much more like to buy in to the process because they can see the why behind it. When they can see studies that have been done with people their own ages who have benefitted from the practice, adolescents are more likely to be willing to give it a try themselves.
After I have some buy-in and have piqued their interest in this seemingly magical practice that can address a whole host of problems they have identified in their lives, we start small. Adolescents already feel like they’re on a stage in front of their peers at all times, so we don’t start with a tricky yoga sequence or a 30-minute guided meditation because that’s a sure way to discourage participation! We start with simple, 2-3 minute seated breathing exercises using tracing printables so that students can focus their attention on just what they’re doing and not worry about meeting eyes with others during the process.
As students gain comfort with short, simple exercises, we try longer activities and different types of mindfulness exercises. We also repeat activities. Students like to try again. They like to get better, practice, and feel like they’ve grown or accomplished something.
Much of mindfulness hinges on slowing and controlling breathing to truly tune in to the body. To introduce breathing exercises, I first model controlled breathing on my own in front of everyone. When we have the technology available, I also let students practice using iPads and headphones with the Calm app. There are some great free activities students can do on their own without feeling like they’re on a stage. I also give students printables to trace while they practice controlling their breathing using figure 8 breathing, rainbow breathing, and star breathing to get the hang of it. Many of my students end up taping these printables inside their notebooks to use throughout the day.