A great way to encourage mindfulness in children is to help them to explore their 5 senses. Being mindful is all about being in the present moment. Exploration of the senses is a great way to practice this skill. Below we have some suggestions for how to practice mindfulness through the 5 senses while having lots of fun!
- What’s That Sound?–Gather a bunch of household objects and hide them in a bag or basket with a towel over them. Have the children close their eyes and focus on the sounds you are about to make with the object. Have them consider these questions as they listen. What sounds do they hear? Can they hear the sound better with their eyes closed or open? Were they able to focus on just the sound? If not, what thoughts or sounds were preventing them from being able to focus?
- Solo Sit–Have your children spread out around the house or yard and sit quietly for 30-60 seconds. You can add time on to the solo-sit each time they practice this activity. I love to do this on a hike in the woods and have the kids sit for 3-5 minutes. While they are sitting quietly, have them pay attention to the noises around them. Ask them these questions when they return. What sounds did you hear? Did you struggle to focus on listening for sounds? What were some loud sounds? What were some quiet sounds? How did you feel as you sat there silently?
- Musical Sound Hunt-Play a piece of classical music and see if your kids can listen for the different instruments. Can they hear the drums? The string instruments? Is the music fast or slow? How does the music make them feel? Maestro Classics or Squilt is a wonderful resource for this type of activity.
- Cloud Watching–Put a blanket on the grass and watch the clouds in the sky. What shapes do you see? How do they change? How does this activity make you feel?
- Mindful Eyes–Fill a jar with water and have the children gather around it. Drop a few drops of food coloring in the jar (be careful not shake the jar) and have them silently watch what happens to the food coloring as it disperses in the water. After a minute or two, have them share their observations.
- Glitter Jars–Glitter Jars are not only fun to make but they are a wonderful tool for children (and adults) to use when they are agitated and upset. Click Here to learn how to make your own Glitter Jar for your kids.
- Object Study–Gather a bunch of stones, shells, buttons or objects that are similar. Place them in a bag and have everybody pull one out. Encourage everyone to study their object in silence and if you see their eyes wondering, encourage them to focus back on their object. Have them think about these questions while they are studying their object. What does the object look like? Are there any special markings? What does it feel like? After a minute or two, have everyone put their objects back in the bag and shake them around. Place them all on the table and see if everyone can find the object that they studied.
- The Jellybean Game–We have done this with Beanboozeled but you may not want to be so cruel to your children (there are barf, dead fish and dog food beans in that game). Have the kids close their eyes and plug their noses and give them a jelly bean to taste. Can they taste what flavor it is with their nose plugged? Next give them the same flavor jelly bean with their nose unplugged. Can they taste the flavor now? Discuss with them how smell and taste go hand and hand.
- What’s that Smell?--Choose 4-6 objects with very unique smells. Blindfold your children and have them smell each item and have them identify them. Have them keep their guesses quiet and to themselves so that others won’t be influenced by their guesses.
- Can I Eat This?–Find 3 edible objects and 3 non edible objects from around the house. Blindfold the children and don’t let them touch the objects. Have them try to figure out which of the 6 objects are edible with just their sense of smell.
- Taste Exploration–Pick a small food for the children to taste (raisin, skittle, chocolate chip, marshmallow). Have them study the item as if they have NEVER seen it before. What do they see? What do they feel? Next have them close their eyes and smell the object. What does it smell like?
- Taste Imagination–Ask the children to pretend to hold an imaginary food like a lemon. Ask them to describe what it looks like and what it will smell like as you slice it into pieces. Pretend to give each child a piece of the lemon and have them imagine putting it to their lips. What happens as they imagine eating the lemon? Can they taste the sourness? Does their mouth pucker, water or their nose wrinkle? This exercise shows how powerful the mind and imagination can be.
Touch and Mindful Movement
- The Water Molecule Game–Turn each child in the room into a Water Molecule. Explain that as a water molecule they will go through three states of matter. The first is as a gas. When a water molecule is in its gas form, it bounces around quickly and solo. As the water molecule starts to get colder, it will slow down and move into a liquid form. This form gets closer to other water molecules and is fluid and slow. Now tell them that the temperature is getting even colder and they should get close together and FREEZE into a block of ice. Tell them the room is getting water and they are staring to MELT and have them ooze onto the floor in a fluid motion. Then heat up the room and have them bounce off the walls as s GAS again. Ask them how their bodies felt in each of the three states of matter? Which state did they prefer?
- The Flamingo Game–Have each child take a few deep breaths to calm down. Ask them to stand on one leg like a flamingo. If they lose their balance, have them try again. Suggest they pick a focal point out in front of them to focus on, this will help them keep their balance. Now ask them to stand with their feet, hip wide apart. How do they feel? How does this stance feel different than one leg? Now have them switch legs, is this side easier? Does it help to have a focal point?
- Finding Your Heartbeat–Teach your children how to find their pulse (either in their neck or on their wrist). Have them count the beats in 10 seconds. Put on music and have them dance around for a minute or two. Have them check their pulse again. How much faster is their heart beating? Now take 5 deep breaths in and out and have them check their pulse again. How long does it take to return to a calm heartbeat? Explain how powerful breathing can be for our bodies.