Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise for Halloween Mindfulness

Pumpkin deep breathing exercise

This Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise is the very first visual breathing tool that we created here on the website. We now have many more deep breathing exercises designed to support self-regulation, mindfulness, and brain break needs. We’ve recently updated this Halloween mindfulness activity to include more information on WHY this pumpkin deep breathing strategy works. We’ve also updated the printable to include a pumpkin breathing poster and a pumpkin mindfulness coloring page! This printable deep breathing exercise is a great Halloween Mindfulness mindfulness activity.

You can get both below or access them in our Member’s Club.

Pumpkin Deep breathing exercise

Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

This Halloween activity is one that I came up with while thinking about our recent Halloween Occupational Therapy activities post. So often, we see kids who struggle with coping strategies and require tools to improve self regulation.

This can occur at school or at home. What if we could combine a child’s interest in all things Halloween with a deep breathing exercise that can be used as a coping strategy, or a calm down activity?

That’s where this pumpkin deep breathing exercise comes in.

This deep breathing exercise uses a pumpkin for a coping strategy for kids that is a calm down strategy this Halloween.

Halloween Mindfulness Activity

We’ve created many breathing exercises to calm down kids (and adults) here on the website, and this pumpkin themed mindfulness strategy is just one of the tools in the toolbox.

So often, parents and teachers ask for strategies to use as a coping mechanism. When kids have coping tools in their toolbox for addressing sensory needs, worries, and getting to that “just right” state of regulation, a self-reflective state can occur.

Addressing specific needs like sensory overload, worries or anxiety, fears, or nervousness can be as simple as having a set of sensory coping strategies on hand. One way to do this is using mindfulness and positive coping skills like this deep breathing exercises.

Using deep breathing exercises to support mindfulness and coping skills works for several reasons:

  • When kids are taught about how their body feels and reacts in certain situations, they can self-reflect on past responses.
  • They can better understand who they are and how their body reacts to stressful or sensory situations.
  • By better understanding their states of regulation, they can be mindful of things that may set them off, but better yet, know how to respond.
  • Having a coping strategy on hand can set them up for success in learning or social situations.

Practicing mindfulness activities and coping strategies can be powerful for kids!

Mindfulness is the ability and awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations as our body responds or reacts in thought, feeling, and sensations. Mindfulness is being present in the moment in any given situation with full awareness of inward and outward sensations. Practicing mindful awareness through deep breathing exercises is one way to notice how our body is reacting in a given moment and provides a tool to reset. Coping skills for kids may include deep breathing as just one strategy.

Here are some mindfulness videos on YouTube to help kids better understand what coping strategies and mindfulness in action looks and feels like.

Deep breathing acts as a coping tactic and a calming activity. It’s an easy coping strategy for kids because taking deep breaths with mindful breathing can be done anywhere and without any equipment.

Taking controlled breaths with deep breathing can give kids a sense of control that helps them rest and address self-regulation or emotional regulation when they are upset, worried, or feel a need to calm down.

Halloween Breathing Exercise

So now that we’ve covered deep breathing and why it’s a helpful coping strategy for kids, let’s talk about a fun Halloween themed coping strategy that kids will love to try.

The deep breathing printable activity uses a simple picture of a pumpkin, but you can use a real pumpkin, too.

Use a real pumpkin for more sensory benefits.

The small decorative gourds or pie pumpkins are perfect for this activity, because kids can hold the small pumpkin in their hands and feel the weight of the pumpkin as they complete the breathing strategy.

  1. Hold a small pumpkin in the palm of your hand.
  2. Use your pointer finger of your other hand to slowly trace up a ridge and breathe in.
  3. Then trace down another ridge and breathe out.
  4. Continue tracing the ridges of the pumpkin while deeply breathing in and out.

Take the breathing exercise a step further by trace the lines up toward the stem while taking a deep breath in. Hold the breath for a few seconds and then trace a line down another section of the pumpkin while slowly breathing out. Hold that breath for a few seconds. Repeat this process as you slowly trace up and down the sections of the pumpkin.

What’s happening with this pumpkin breathing exercise?

Several sensory systems are at work here when using a real pumpkin in this Halloween mindfulness strategy:

Heavy Work- The weight of the pumpkin on the arches of the palm of the hand= PROPRIOCEPTIVE sensory system.

Calming Tactile Cues- Engaging the tactile sensory system to trace the ridges of a smooth surface. Think about how some individuals like rubbing specific textures like a silky blanket or the calming strips of a fidget tool. Running a finger along the groove of a smooth pumpkin surface engages that calming tactile input.

Belly Breathing- Deep breaths combined with a visual focus offers proprioceptive input through the lungs and diaphragm. Engage belly breathing by taking in fully breaths to fully engage the lungs. Then hold the breath for a second or two before releasing the breath. When belly breathing is engaged, the lungs continue to expand for a moment and add further pressure throughout the ribcage and internal organs. This breath control evokes the interoceptive system.

Bilateral Coordination- When holding the pumpkin and tracing with a finger on the other hand, both sides of the body are at work in a coordinated manner, otherwise known as bilateral coordination. Holding the pumpkin with one hand and tracing with the other hand engages bilateral use of both sides of the body.

Whether you are using a pumpkin picture or real pumpkin, show kids how to use deep breathing as a coping tool by taking calming breaths while they trace the lines of the pumpkin.

Pumpkin deep breathing poster and coloring page
Pumpkin deep breathing poster and coloring page

Halloween Deep Breathing Poster

In this newest update to our calming breathing exercise, we created both a pumpkin deep breathing poster and a coloring page.

  1. The poster can be printed out and hung in a classroom, therapy clinic or home.

2. Use the deep breathing exercise as a brain break during the month of October.

3. It’s a great tool for using during Halloween parties as a therapist- approved activity that supports underlying needs, too.

4. Many times, children can become overstimulated during classroom Halloween parties, and the days leading up to Halloween. Use the pumpkin deep breathing visual as a tool for the whole classroom to organize their sensory systems and focus on the learning that still needs to happen.

5. This printable page is full color and makes a great addition to a calm down corner this time of year.

6. You can even add the pumpkin breathing poster to our Fall Sensory Stations, and include this in a hallway or therapy clinic this time of year.

7. One final way to use this pumpkin mindfulness exercise is during the actual trick or treating. Kids with sensory or self-regulation needs can become overstimulated during trick or treating on Halloween. There is a lot of sensory stimulation out there! From lights, to fog machines, children running in the streets, and lots of strangers in the neighborhood, trick-or-treating is an overloading environment for many kids and adults! Print off a copy of this pumpkin deep breathing tool and use it calm down, engage focused breathing strategies, and cope as needed!

Pumpkin Breathing Coloring Page

In the new download below, you’ll also find a page that is a pumpkin breathing coloring page. We know there are many benefits of coloring and one is the calming ability that coloring has.

Adding heavy work by coloring in pages can be a great way to calm the sensory system through heavy work in the hands.

Print off the coloring page and use it in several ways this time of year:

  • Color in at occupational therapy sessions
  • Use as a whole class activity
  • Kids can color in the breathing exercise page and use them as individual brain break tools
  • Hang the coloring page on a bulletin board for Halloween that explains sensory self-regulation strategies
  • Include in a Halloween party
Use a pumpkin as a deep breathing exercise for a coping strategy for kids.

This printable Halloween mindfulness activity supports coping needs.

Free Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

Want to get this free Pumpkin breathing exercise in both a color Poster format AND a coloring page? You’ve got it! Just enter your email address into the form below to access both printable pages.

This resource is also inside our Member’s Club. Members can log into their accounts and download the file directly without the need to enter an email address. The printable pages are located on our Pumpkin Therapy Theme page and our Mindfulness Toolbox.

Not a member of the Member’s Club yet? JOIN US HERE.

Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

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    Grab the Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit for more coloring, cutting, and eye-hand coordination activities with a Pumpkin theme! It includes:

    • 7 digital products that can be used any time of year- has a “pumpkins” theme
    • 5 pumpkin scissor skills cutting strips
    • Pumpkin scissor skills shapes- use in sensory bins, math, sorting, pattern activities
    • 2 pumpkin visual perception mazes with writing activity
    • Pumpkin “I Spy” sheet – color in the outline shapes to build pencil control and fine motor strength
    • Pumpkin Lacing cards – print, color, and hole punch to build bilateral coordination skills
    • 2 Pumpkin theme handwriting pages – single and double rule bold lined paper for handwriting practice

    Work on underlying fine motor and visual motor integration skills so you can help students excel in handwriting, learning, and motor skill development.

    You can grab this Pumpkin Fine Motor kit for just $6!

    Halloween Mindfulness Activities

    Use this printable pumpkin deep breathing exercise as a Halloween mindfulness activity. Other printable Halloween mindfulness activities include:

    Halloween Hand Breathing Technique

    We also have a new deep breathing exercise for the Fall or Halloween season. If using a printable to achieve Halloween coping skills isn’t ideal (sometimes you don’t have the printable version with you…or for some kids it might be hard for them to picture a pumpkin as they are coping with some self-regulation needs…), then having another tool in your toolbox is a must.

    We’ve come up with a Halloween Hand Breathing Technique to fit the bill!

    All you need is your hands and fingers to using this hand tracing breathing strategy.

    We talk a bit about using the Hand Breathing Technique for a self-reset to address coping skills, mindset, offset worries or anxiety, and as a deep breathing strategy.

    Check out our video over on YouTube, or you can see it below. If you can’t view the video due to blockers on your computer or device, check out our Pumpkin Hand Breathing Technique over on YouTube.

    To complete the Halloween Hand breathing technique, you can use the same pumpkin deep breathing strategy, but trace a pumpkin on the palm of your hand. We also included a pumpkin tracing task to create a motor plan for the pumpkin shape that is incorporated with deep breaths in and out.

    Have fun!

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Finger Strength Exercises

    finger strength activities

    Finger strength exercises need to be addressed on an occupational therapy blog, because let’s face it, we need our hands and fingers for so many tasks. Here, you’ll find finger strengthening activities and exercises that can be used along with finger games and hand strengthening activities to build stronger and more functional hands for use in daily activities.

    Our fingers are used for this activity and that activity. Just think about how much we use our hands and fingers throughout the day. Would you say it is morning, noon, and night? Probably so. We use our fingers for leisure, chores, personal needs, work, and many other tasks. Our hands AND fingers need to be strong and ready to go so that we can accomplish all of our to-do list tasks for the day, week, or month. 

    finger strength exercises

    Finger strengthening exercises can be integrated in play! When it comes to building stronger fingers, occupational therapy supports this need.

    Finger Strength Exercises

    Children need well-functioning hands and fingers with good overall strength and endurance too as they are constantly on the move with activity involvement throughout the day.

    They are playing with siblings or friends, attending school, taking care of their personal needs, and hopefully taking on a few chores too.

    Children know when things are easy for them and when they are difficult. They know whether their fingers are strong or weak. They know when they can or cannot open and close a container, button or unbutton a shirt, and when they need a little extra help to play with toys. They know if something is going to be fun and easy or if it’s going to be hard and dreaded with no way to achieve without help.

    This blog post will provide some fun and important finger strengthening exercises and activities that can be used to help a child build their finger strength and endurance whether it be in the clinic, classroom, or at home.

    Some exercises may be for the older kiddo population while some of the fun play-like activities or exercises are for the younger kiddos as we know they need a little more motivation to build their finger strength and endurance.

    As mentioned in a previous hand strengthening post, don’t forget that gross motor activities also help to build hand and finger strength too! That’s right, keep having children do animal walks, heavy work exercises, scooter board activities, therapy ball weight-bearing activities, and encourage them to continue playing on the playground equipment

    The reason to encourage gross motor coordination and whole body play is that children need that proximal stability and strength in order to foster distal mobility, including functional strength and use of the fingers.


    The finger strength exercises listed below can be used along with manual dexterity goals to support functional skills. One type of finger strengthening exercise that is rooted in play is the use of theraputty exercises.

    You can purchase (Amazon affiliate link) theraputty from various vendors, and use this finger strengthening tool in different ways that involves play.

    Some finger strength Therapy putty exercises:

    • finger pinch is simply taking small balls of therapy putty and pinching them into small flat pancakes, repeat multiple times with each hand
    • log pinch is rolling the therapy putty between the hands to create a putty log and placing on the table top, then take each finger to the thumb to pinch the putty as flat as possible, one finger at a time, repeat with all fingers each hand
    • pancake spread is taking a flat pancake pile of therapy putty and placing all fingertips of one hand into the putty to attempt to spread the fingers out as far as possible, repeat multiple times with each hand
    • pancake pull is taking a flat pancake pile of therapy putty and placing all fingertips of one hand into the putty to attempt to gradually pull the putty upward into a pyramid shape, repeat multiple times with each hand
    • thumb press is taking a ball of putty placed in the palm (near the base of the thumb) and then pressing the thumb deeply into the ball, multiple times with each hand

    Thumb Strength

    The main component of pinch and grip requires opposition of the thumb. The bulky “meat” of the thumb, also known as the thenar eminence is the bas of the thumb which provides the power behind the pinch, or where we see the real strength of a precision grasp.

    Strength in the thumb is explained in the dexterity of the thumb joints and the rotation of the CMC joint at the base of the thumb. We explain this in our blog post that focuses on a thumb wrap grasp.

    Squeeze ball exercises

    One tool to strengthen the thumb is by using a squeeze ball. In addition to the thumb strength is the arches of the hand and the hypothenar eminence, or the bulk of the hand at the base of the pinkie finger.

    Squeeze ball exercises offer a single squeeze that encourages a cupped position of the palm and fingers.

    Try these squeeze ball exercises:

    • power pinch is squeezing the ball and holding for a count of 5 or 10 repeatedly with each finger opposed to the thumb, one finger at a time, repeating multiple times
    • fingertip pinch is placing the squeeze ball between the fingertips opposed to the thumb and then squeezing and holding as long as possible with all fingertips working together, repeating multiple times with each hand

    Finger Grip Strengthener

    Another tool found in an occupational therapy bag is the finger grip strengthener. There are many types of these tools on the market, but one that is often used is the (Amazon affiliate link) digiflex. We have many other hand gripper workouts here on The OT Toolbox that can be used as finger strengtheners, too.

    Try these Digiflex exercises:

    • using the appropriate pound Digiflex tool, depress each button of the device using one finger at a time, repeat multiple times with each hand.
    • Tap the buttons of a Digiflex grip strengthener to a song

    Finger Stretcher Exercises

    A finger stretcher is a finger strengthening tool for flexing and extending the fingers. This is a great tool for finger isolation and individual joint isolation.

    • using the appropriate resistance level tool, place the device onto the fingertips and stretch each finger outward as far as possible, repeat multiple times with each hand
    • Use the finger stretcher to work on finger flexion or finger extension. Tap out letters to spell words. Or tap out words of a song or phrase.

    Rubber band exercises

    Rubber band exercises are another finger exercise tool.

    • wrap rubber bands around the fingers, including the thumb, and then stretch the fingers and thumb outward spreading them as far out as possible, repeat multiple times with each hand
    • wrap a rubber band around each finger opposed to the thumb and then stretch out the finger and thumb as far as possible, repeat multiple times with each finger and each hand
    • wrap a rubber band around a neighboring finger (two fingers max) and then spread the fingers apart (spreading left to right as far as possible), repeating multiple times 
    • Use rubber bands to stretch around blocks.

    Finger Exercises without equipment

    There are many finger strengthening exercises you can do without strengthening equipment or weights. The ideas listed below require just your own hands and body weight or simple items you probably already have in the home.

    When it comes to finger exercises, there are several aspects that will improve overall pinch strength and grip strength. These include:

    • Eccentric muscle contraction
    • Concentric muscle contraction
    • Isometric muscle contraction

    Isometric Finger exercises

    Isometric contractions refers to contraction of a muscle that does not produce joint motion. In other words, the joint does not move and the finger pushes against something as it is still and in one place.

    An isometric exercise provides force where the internal and external forces are in a state of equilibrium. For example, holding a pencil while writing requires isometric force of the fingers.

    • Place the fingertips of both hands together and push the palms of the hands together, repeat and hold multiple times.
    • Hook both thumbs together and attempt to pull apart, hook both index fingers together and pull apart, hook both middle fingers together and pull apart, hook both ring fingers together and pull apart, and hook pinky fingers together and pull apart, repeat multiple times
    • Place both hands together in a hook grasp. Hook all the fingers together, at one time, and attempt to pull apart, and then repeat.
    thumb war activity

    Thumb wars Activity

    One thumb strengthening activity that most of us are familiar with is a thumb war. Do you remember saying, “I declare a thumb war”? When you have a thumb wrestling battle with a friend, there are many strengthening opportunities happening.

    While we might not recognize the thumb war as a finger strengthening activity, there are several components here that build finger and hand strength:

    Holding the fingers in a grasped position with the thumb war partner is an isometric strengthening activity. The thumb is free to be mobile, allowing for full range of motion.

    When engaged in a thumb war, both participants experience strengthening resistance from various planes: flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction.

    • Play a few rounds of thumb wars with a partner, each hand should give it a try 

    Other Finger Strengthening Exercises include:

    Piano push 

    • slightly curl the fingers like playing the piano and then push against a wall or table top, repeat multiple times

     Spider finger walk

    • lie a hand towel flat on a tabletop surface and then place a weighted object on the end farthest away, use the fingers of both hands to spider walk the weighted object toward self, pulling and scrunching the towel up within the hands, repeat

    Crumple and roll tissue paper balls 

    • cut small squares of tissue paper and then crumple them into small balls using a pinch pattern and finger rotation, follow with rolling the ball out while pressing into a flat worm using a backward and forward rolling movement 

    Pinching water out of small sponge squares

    • wet small sponge squares and squeeze water out using the thumb opposed to each finger individually, repeat multiple times

    Water dropper

    • use a water dropper to squeeze water out into a container using the thumb opposed to each finger, individually, using both hands repeating multiple times

    Milk the latex glove 

    • this one is one that I found online where you fill a latex glove with water and use a pin to poke a small hole into the tip of each finger then a child will work on squeezing the water out of each finger, have the child finger pinch each finger of the glove to make it work more appropriate for total finger strengthening

    Pool noodle finger popper

    • cut pieces of a pool noodle and create small finger poppers and have individuals pinch to pop the finger popper and see how far they can make it soar, repeat

    Strawberry finger pickers– these mini tongs are a great size to engage the intrinsic muscles of the hands.

    • Use strawberry pickers with thumb opposed to each finger and attempt to pick up and sort various colored pom-pom balls into containers

    Household tools to promote finger strength when in use:

    • Seal Plastic Sandwich Bags – Pinching a plastic baggie closed to seal the bag is a great functional task. Pinch baggie to pinch it closed using the thumb opposed to each finger with each finger working individually, complete with both hands, and repeat. This is an activity that can be incorporated into lunch time or snack time.
    • Pinch clothes pins- Grab clothes pins from the dollar store for a low-cost finger strengthening tool. Pinch open and closed using the thumb opposed to each finger with each finger working individually. Here are more clothes pin exercises.
    • Pop bubble wrap- Oppose the bubbles of bubble wrap with a thumb and finger. Try to encourage the child to keep their thumb in a neutral position or slight joint flexion at the thumb IP joint.

    Use commercially available tools and games to promote finger strength:

    • Squeeze stretchy toys – pull apart for poses, stretches, and molding  
    • Oppose Mini Squishies-Squash and squeeze the squeezies with fingers opposed to the thumb, each hand, repeatedly 
    • Place beads onto a Light finger ball– This is a great activity because the wrist is placed into slight wrist extension which puts the extrinsic muscles and tendons into an ideal position to enable full strength and mobility of the intrinsic muscles. Pinch and pull individual caps on the ball (you can call it ‘snap the caps’) and attempt the pinch and pull with all fingers opposed to the thumb
    • Squeeze toys like a Kitty hairball poppers are great because the arches are positioned in an ideal position for strengthening while the fingers are opposed to the thumb.
    • Oppose Boinks with a wide opposition to work on graded precision skills. Kids love these because they can squeeze and release to see how far they fly across the room
    • Pop beads-This classic toy is a fine motor powerhouse. Push the beads together and pull them apart to create a necklace, chain, or bracelet. We love this set because it includes beads of different sizes and you can grade the activity to meet the needs of each individual.
    • Marble maze – play a marble maze from beginning to end
    • Build and destruct with Lego blocks- Pinch and pull the bricks while building simple towers or even buildings or objects with the use of picture cards
    • Build and destruct Cootie Bugs using the fun game to work on hand and finger strengthening. This one is a little tricky for younger kiddos as the legs must go in at a slight angle which may make them more appropriate for older kiddos. 
    • Velcro ball and catch- roll the ball from the top to the bottom of the mitt using a finger spider walk. Pulling a tennis ball or other smaller ball off the velcro is a great strengthening activity.
    • Use pop toobs to strengthen fingers by conecting the tubes.

    Want some fun resources for hand and finger warm-ups or strengthening? Take a look at these fun game boards Finger and Hand Exercises and Year-Round Play Dough.

    These resources include 10-12 no-prep game boards that you can print and play to practice finger isolation, left and right hand discrimination, overall fine motor coordination, finger dexterity, and build hand and finger strength.

    Grab them and immediately ramp up any warm-up routine. They are engaging for kids and are a great tool to use before any prewriting, handwriting, coloring, or cutting work. 

    Want to add more ideas and tools to your therapist toolkit for finger strengthening? Take a look at the other posts found right here at The OT Toolbox:

    Hand Strengthening Activities | The OT Toolbox

    Clay Fine Motor Strengthening Exercises | The OT Toolbox

    Intrinsic Hand Muscle Strengthening with Tongs | The OT Toolbox

    Slime Hand Strength Exercises | The OT Toolbox

    Hand and Finger Game Boards | The OT Toolbox

    Handwriting Warm-Up Exercises for Little Hands | The OT Toolbox

    Play Dough Hand Strength Astronaut Activity | The OT Toolbox

    Finger Aerobics | The OT Toolbox

    Hand Gripper Workout | The OT Toolbox

    Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

    Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

    Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

    Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.