Ghost Deep Breathing Exercise

Today I have a fun mindfulness exercise for kids…a ghost deep breathing exercise! This deep breathing exercise is great for Halloween or adding to a ghost theme in therapy, the classroom, or home during the month of October, when self-regulation can use the fun of Halloween and ghosts with major calming benefits. You can grab this free mindfulness printable below!

This ghost themed activity is a powerful self-regulation activity for kids this time of year!

ghost deep breathing exercise for self-regulation for kids with a ghost theme

Ghost Deep Breathing Exercise

If you’ve been reading The OT Toolbox for long, you may have seen our pumpkin deep breathing exercise printable and our spider web deep breathing exercise. Both are fun ways to add a holiday theme to self-regulation needs.

Today’s Ghost Breathing Exercise is another fun Halloween themed therapy tool to use with kids!

For more mindfulness exercises, you can check out the other deep breathing exercises here on the site.

I love this deep breathing tool because it has a fun ghostly “woooo-hoooo” addition where kids can add their own fun and non-spooky ghost noises as they slowly breathe out.

Add this resource to ghost themed therapy activities or calming exercises all during the month of October. It may even be a good way to get excited ghosts and goblins to calm down before a big Halloween party!

More ghost activities

This self-regulation tool is a great addition to these other ghost activities that build skills:

  • Ghost sensory bin (make bread ties into ghosts for fine motor sensory play!)
  • Ghost craft– This simple ghost craft develops scissor skills, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and more.
  • Ghost Catch Game– All you need is a recycled milk carton and an old sock for bilateral coordination, crossing midline, gross motor skills, eye-hand coordination, core strength, and more.
  • Ghost Cookies– Baking with kids is such an awesome way to develop executive functioning skills. These ghost cookies are spooky fun!

Free Deep Breathing Exercise

You can print off this ghost deep breathing printable and use it in therapy sessions all month long!

Enter your email address into the form below to access this freebie.

Free Ghost Deep Breathing Exercise

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

    Don’t miss this pumpkin activity kit for fine motor skill work all month long!

    Pumpkin activity kit
    Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit

    Emotional Intelligence

    Emotional Intelligence activities for kids

    Emotional intelligence in children is a skill that takes practice, example, and more practice to develop. For all of us, emotional intelligence can be an ongoing skill that impacts social emotional skills, relationships, and functioning in day to day tasks. Here we are

    For those of us raising children and working with children it is clear that they need more than ‘book smarts’ to navigate the rather complex world that they are growing up in. For a long time the intelligence quotient or Emotional IQ was the only benchmark for measuring children’s potential and predicting how well they would achieve.

    In more recent times people studying development and psychology realized that there were other skills necessary for achieving success in the world. One of these sets of skills has become known as Emotional Intelligence.

    Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and understand your emotions and those around you with empathy and perspective. These emotional intelligence activities for kids develop Emotional IQ through play.

    What is Emotional Intelligence?

    Emotional intelligence is described as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and to understand the emotions of those around you. The concept of emotional intelligence also known as emotional quotient or EQ developed in the 1990’s and has gained widespread acceptance in recent years.

    Instrumental in the development of the theory and models of emotional intelligence is Daniel Goleman a psychologist and author. Goleman and emotional intelligence may be terms that you’ve heard connected, where he describes four main domains that make up Emotional Intelligence.

    These domains are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. What do each of these emotional intelligence domains mean?

    • Self-awareness – Self-awareness is having conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings. This results in being able to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness in kids plays a role in emotional control, mindset, habits, and executive functioning skills.
    • Self-management – Self-management is being able to control and manage your emotions in a healthy way. Self-management for kids involves self-regulation, mindset, habits, and self-control. Co-regulation plays a role in this aspect as well.
    • Social awareness – Social awareness is the ability to pick up the emotions of other people and to understand what they are feeling. This can be a challenge for children of all needs.
    • Relationship management – Relationship management is the ability to build relationships with others through positive interpersonal communication skills (Segal, 2020). Children develop relationship management skills through example by watching others in their lives, by interacting with peers and adults, and through play.

    The domains are further broken down into twelve competencies and learnable skills that are relevant to the specific domain. (Matlock, 2017)

    At the bottom of this post, you can find hands-on activities for children that develop each area of these emotional intelligence skills.

    Emotional intelligence and emotional leadership

    Emotional leadership is a term developed by Goleman and others, and refers to leadership in groups, impacted by one’s emotional intelligence. When you take a look at the domains of EI, you can see how they play into the functioning of a group.

    Occupational therapists know a thing or two about group management and group leadership. At it’s infancy, occupational therapy played a major role in group therapy and mental health. While this domain of occupational therapy intervention is no longer primary area of intervention, there are still many OTs working in the mental health arena and especially in the group treatment intervention.

    Emotional leadership is an important part of group occupational therapy sessions, as the participants are interacting with others in the group and developing specific individualized goal areas but also group goal areas. Groups in therapy have a leader, often the therapist, but sometimes the therapist presents as a facilitator but one that keeps the group on track as the group interacts with other participants.

    In this way, participants can develop emotional leadership skills and skills that can be used outside of the group setting as a development of emotional intelligence and emotional learning.

    It is clear that a lot of work has been done on developing an understanding of emotional intelligence and the components that make up this construct. But how important is emotional intelligence in the lives and development of our children?

    Is Emotional Intelligence Important?

    Cognitive behavioral therapy recognizes that feelings or emotions can influence thoughts. When emotions run high they can alter the way our brains work and this can have a negative effect on our cognitive abilities. Our feelings can influence the decisions we make and how we interact with other people. It makes sense that having a greater understanding of our emotions will help guide how we interact with others.

    Improving our emotional intelligence makes it easier to resolve conflicts, manage our stress and interact appropriately with those around us (Segal, 2020). And children will definitely benefit from developing these skills. Children’s learning is influence by their emotional state so managing emotions in a positive way allows children to be receptive learners at school.

    Emotional intelligence includes the ability to name emotions. The act of naming emotions tends to diffuse their intensity and lessens the negative impact they may have on our cognitive abilities. The psychologist Dan Siegel refers to this as ‘name it to tame it’ (Schwartz, 2015). The value of recognizing feelings and emotions is evident but how does emotional intelligence develop.

    Development of Emotional Intelligence

    When asked how emotional intelligence develops in a recent interview Daniel Goleman stated that “emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages. These messages repeat over and over to form the core of a child’s emotional outlook and capabilities.” (Scholastic, viewed 2021)

    As adults interacting with children it becomes important to ensure that we are able to recognise and manage our own emotions. Once we are able to do this we can become valuable role models for children and we can provide opportunities for them to see emotional intelligence in action. Recognizing and discussing emotions with children lays a foundation for their self-regulation.

    The development of emotional intelligence begins in infancy, through interactions with caregivers, and continues as children are socialized across their school years alongside parents, peers, and teachers. Emotional intelligence is gained through both informal experiences (observations and conversations) and through and formal instruction (being taught emotion vocabulary, learning self-regulation strategies).

    How emotional intelligence is taught depends on age, but unlike learning other skills such as math and science or English language arts, there is no age at which it is too early or too late to develop your emotional quotient. The parts of the brain needed to develop emotional intelligence are active from birth and will continue to develop throughout life.

    As with many developmental tasks it seems that the first few years of life the brain is at its most receptive to learning key skills. And emotional intelligence is one of these important skills. (Brackett, Cipriano, 2015

    This resource on executive functioning skills and emotional regulation shares more information on the role executive functioning skills play on emotional IQ.

     How to Teach Emotional intelligence?

    An essential part of developing emotional intelligence is being able to talk about feelings. This skill set is often termed emotional literacy and it is something that we are able to teach young children.

    We can teach children to read and understand emotions and to respond appropriately to their own emotions and the emotions of others. Goleman explains that you can teach young children about the most basic emotions, such as happiness and anger and when they get older touch on more complicated feelings, such as jealousy, pride, and guilt (Scholastic, viewed 2021)

    It is important to remember to include a range of emotions both positive and negative when talking about feelings.

    Although it is not always comfortable talking about negative emotions it is important that children recognize and accept the wide range of emotions that they are likely to experience during their lives.  We can incorporate opportunities to promote emotional intelligence in our everyday lives. 

    Emotional intelligence activities for therapy, the classroom, ad home to help children develop emotional intelligence skills for functioning.

    Emotional Intelligence Activities

    What does promoting Emotional Intelligence look like in a therapy session?

    As an occupational therapist (and a parent!) it can be overwhelming to think about the number of developmental needs that fall within your domain of influence. My therapy approach has always been aligned with building confidence and self-awareness in the children that I treat so in that way emotional intelligence has been fostered through incidental learning and interactions.

    In more recent times I have used tools and resources that focus specifically on building skills that will enhance emotional intelligence – empathy, self- regulation, communication skills – depending on what the individual child needs. 

    In my therapy session the first few minutes are spent getting a gauge of where the child is at and what their mood is like. By spending a few minutes engaging one on one with the child I am able to assess their level of attention, level of arousal and motivation at the time. I also have a mood meter on my wall and the kids love moving the arrow to the colour that corresponds to how they are feeling that day – low energy, just right energy, slightly high energy or off the chart energy levels.

    With a reluctant child I might get the ball rolling by sharing how I am feeling that day and using the mood meter to plot my energy levels. I also have a feeling chart called ‘How does your jellybean feel today?” adapted from a book by Susan Jelleberg (Jellybean Jamboree).

    This introduces the idea of naming emotions and of expanding our vocabulary related to emotions. In this way I feel I am working on the self-awareness component of emotional intelligence. 

    The next step is ensuring that the child is in a good space to learn and this means aiming for a calm-alert level of arousal. The Zones of Regulation offer a number of tools to help children reach that just right space. Some children need activities to lift their energy and some children need activities to lower their energy levels. I find deep pressure or proprioceptive activities work like a charm and I also use breathing activities frequently in my therapy sessions.

    In this way we tackle some of the self-management aspects of emotional intelligence. 

    Social management is a tricky one for young children to pick you. Learning that the people around them do not always think and feel the same is them is an on-going process. There are some lovely activities to encourage empathy in children and to help them become aware of other people’s feelings.

    Finally relationship management is encouraged through appropriate interactions between myself and the child during the therapy session. For some children this means learning how to deal with losing a game or competition, learning how to take turns or share or learning to give and receive complements.  

    So within the confines of a short therapy session, while working on other specific OT goals, it is very possible to facilitate and encourage a child’s emotional intelligence. An understanding of emotional intelligence and is various elements means that it is also possible to encourage its growth in the classroom and in our homes.

    And it is with this well-developed emotional intelligence that I believe our children will be able to successfully navigate the world they are growing up in and find meaning in their lives. 

    For further information on some of the component skills and activities related to emotional intelligence have a look at the following links. There are numerous resources on the OT Toolbox that deal with developing different components of emotional intelligence.  

    Self-Awareness Activities for Kids

    To develop self-awareness it is important to be able to understand what you are feeling. Children can participate in some of the following activities in increase their awareness of emotions.

    These self-awareness activities promote social emotional development through the awareness and process of practicing identification of emotions:

    Penguin emotions game– Use this penguin theme emotions activity to support emotional intelligence in kids.

    Social emotional learning– This social emotional skills worksheet supports the development of emotional intelligence by allowing children to draw in facial expressions that match various emotional states.

    Social emotional learning 2– This comprehensive resource on social emotional learning supports development of emotional intelligence by offering resources and information on how children develop emotional skills and ways to support that development.

    Spring matching emotions slide deck game– This Spring themed emotions activity supports the development of emotional skills by offering practice and matching of facial expressions.

    Self-Management Activities for Kids

    To develop self-management skills you need to move beyond identifying emotions and figure out strategies that will help to regulate these emotions and subsequent behaviours. 

    This Zones of regulation toolbox offers a collection of activities and resources designed to promote self-regulation and self-management skills for kids.

    Breath control is an important skill for kids to achieve in developing and refining self-management skills.

    Deep breathing exercise cards are a powerful tool to use in building and developing self-management skills for kids. Print off these cards and use them over and over again to meet the interests and needs of a whole classroom or clinic of children.

    Proprioception activities are heavy work movement activities that provide children with a sense of awareness when it comes to how their body moves through space or in a given situation.

    Social Awareness Activities

    To develop social awareness you will need to understand other people’s emotions effectively. These hands-on social awareness activities are strategies that children can use to develop emotional intelligence in social situations.

    Empathy for others- Developing empathy requires practice and awareness. This Quick as cricket activity for Empathy helps children to understand the perspectives of others through a classic children’s book. The hands-on accompaniment activity gives kids a chance to practice their empathy skills and put them to work in social situations or through the social interaction with others.

    Try these friendship activities to work on specific skills in developing social awareness, relationships skills, and interpersonal skills in children.

    Through books, families can look at the pictures and come back to specific concepts again and again. And, adding hands-on, multi-sensory play experiences brings those concepts home.

    In the resource, Exploring Books Through Play, you’ll do just that.

    This digital, E-BOOK is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship. In Exploring Books through Play, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

    Click here to get your copy of Exploring Books Through Play.

    Relationship Management Activities

    To develop relationship management skills you will need to know how to develop and maintain good relationships with other people. These relationship management activities are strategies to work on emotional intelligence during interactions and relationships with others. 

    These Social skills interventions are therapy activities designed to promote relationships with others through hands-on activities that give kids practice to support relationship skills with others.

    This resource on Executive functioning in school is helpful in addressing relationships with peers, mentors, and teachers.

    To work on emotional development requires many executive functioning skills, including impulse control, working memory, mindset, attention, planning, self-talk, inhibition, and more. To address these skills in kids, using a fun, hands-on approach to talking about these skills through lists, drawing, and goal-setting is key. You’ll find the exact tools to address these needs in the printable, Impulse Control Journal.

    Impulse Control Journal the OT Toolbox

    The Impulse Control Journal…a printable resource for helping kids strategize executive functioning skill development. When saying “calm down” just isn’t enough…

    When a child is easily “triggered” and seems to melt down at any sign of loud noises or excitement…

    When you need help or a starting point to teach kids self-regulation strategies…

    When you are struggling to motivate or redirect a child without causing a meltdown…

    When you’re struggling to help kids explore their emotions, develop self-regulation and coping skills, manage and reflect on their emotions, identify their emotions, and more as they grow…

    Grab the Impulse Control Journal to build organizational strategies, planning, prioritization, habits, and mindset in kids.

    Contributor to The OT Toolbox: Janet Potterton is an occupational therapist working predominantly in school-based settings and I love, love, love my job. I have two children (if you don’t count my husband!), two dogs, one cat, two guinea pigs and one fish. When I am not with my family or at work I try to spend time in nature. The beach is my happy place.

    Unicorn Yoga

    Unicorn Yoga

    If you’ve got a little one who is a big fan of unicorns, than this Unicorn Yoga is a sure win. I’ve had this unicorn craft on the site for years and wanted to add a few other unicorn activities to go with the craft. That’s where these stretches and gross motor exercises come into play.

    Unicorn Yoga

    Unicorn Yoga

    Just in time for Unicorn Day (yep, that’s actually a thing! Unicorn Day is on April 9th), these unicorn yoga exercises are a great addition to your therapy toolbox.

    The exercises are a free slide deck that can be used in teletherapy, or as a brain break activity to incorporate into a functional sensory diet or self-regulation strategy.

    Kids that love all things unicorns will find these unicorn yoga poses a fun way to incorporate their interests into a meaningful and motivating sensory and gross motor exercise.

    In each slide deck, kids can follow along with the unicorn yoga pose to challenge core strength, stability, strengthening, motor planning, crossing midline.

    Other benefits of yoga exercises for kids include:

    • mindfulness
    • proprioceptive input
    • vestibular input
    • calming input
    • self-regulation.

    Unicorn fitness was never so much fun…or cute!

    Also included in this slide deck is a deep breathing activity. The unicorn image shows children how to take in deep breaths for the sensory and regulating benefits. Kids can use these deep breathing strategies while completing each unicorn yoga pose throughout the slide deck.

    Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

    To incorporate these slides into your therapy practice, you’ll access the slides via the form below. Then, you can pull up the slide deck onto your Google drive. Go through each yoga pose with children in your virtual therapy sessions, at home, or in the classroom. Kids can copy the positioning with your verbal cues, and correct any body positioning, depending on spatial awareness and body awareness needs.

    Parents, teachers, and therapists may want to follow along with the cute unicorns on each slide, too!

    Want to add this free therapy slide deck to your toolbox? Enter your email address below and the exercises will be delivered to your inbox.

    NOTE: Please consider using a personal email address rather than a work or school district email. Due to recent changes with network security measures, the email delivering the resource may be blocked by your work institution.

    FREE Unicorn Yoga Slide Deck

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      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

      Rainbow Breathing

      rainbow exercises deep breathing printable

      Adding to our deep breathing exercises here on the site, is this rainbow breathing activity for kids. It’s a breathing exercise that kids can use in a rainbow theme in therapy sessions, or as a coping tool to help kids with self-regulation, mindfulness, and focus. Print off this rainbow breathing printable and add it to your deep breathing activities!

      Free rainbow breathing deep breathing exercise for kids

      Rainbow Breathing Activity

      Kids will love this printable rainbow breathing activity. It makes a great poster for a therapy room, classroom, of homeschool room, too, especially this time of year.

      There are many benefits to breath control in breathing exercise as coping tools, and there is a reason why we are seeing more need for these types of resources.

      To use this free deep breathing printable, ask kids to start at the white dot on one side of the rainbow. They can slowly trace along the colors of the rainbow as they take a deep breath.

      Then, when they reach the other side of the rainbow, they can begin at another white dot where they can trace along another color in the rainbow. Ask kids to trace in rainbow order.

      Rainbow meditation

      You can extend this rainbow breathing activity by incorporating rainbow meditation into this mindfulness activity.

      Ask children breathe deeply, they can focus on the breaths that they are taking in and noting how their body slows down to an alert and ready state. Rainbow meditation exercises involve using the colors of the rainbow ask children focus on each color along with mindful thoughts.

      For each color, ask the child to focus on the color of the rainbow as they breathe in or breathe out. They can think about an object that is that color in nature or in their environment.

      To help the child focus on the benefits of guided meditation with this rainbow activity, ask the child to visualize the rainbow colors flowing through them with each deep breath.

      Red-They can take a deep breath in as they trace along the red band of the rainbow. Ask them to think about red things as they visualize red flowing through their body. Some things that are red might be hot and warm. Can they “feel” warmth flowing through their body? They can picture the color coming in through their nose and flowing through their body.

      Orange- As the child traces along the orange band of the rainbow, the child can picture orange objects. They can breathe deeply out through their mouth as they picture orange colors of the rainbow flowing through their arms and legs and then out through their mouth. Things that are orange might be warm and energy. Can they “feel” warmth and safety flowing through their body?

      Yellow- Ask the child to trace along the yellow band of the rainbow. They should be taking a deep breath in through their nose again. Ask the child to picture yellow items. Can they visualize the flow of yellow as it courses through their body? Yellow things might be bright and sunny. Do they feel alert and awake?

      Green- Next, kids can trace along the green band of the rainbow. As they do, ask the child to breathe out through their mouth. They can then picture green things and imagine the green of the rainbow is flowing through their body. Green can be bright, soothing, and energetic. Do they feel that flowing through their body?

      Blue- The next color in the rainbow is blue. Ask the child to trace along the rainbow band and breathe in through their nose. Blue might be calming, or peaceful thoughts. Can they feel calm colors flowing through their body? What are some blue things they can picture?

      Purple- Finally, ask the child to trace along the purple band as they breath out through their mouth. Ask them to picture purple flowing through their body. Purple can mean creative and awareness. Can they picture any purple objects?

      Free Rainbow Breathing Printable

      Want to add this printable exercise sheet to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address into the form below and you’ll be on your way.

      Rainbow Breathing

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        More breathing exercises you’ll love:

        Heart deep breathing exercise

        Pencil deep breathing exercise

        Clover deep breathing exercise

        Heart Deep Breathing Exercise

        heart deep breathing exercise printable

        This quick deep breathing exercise has a heart theme, and it’s a fun mindfulness exercise for kids. You may have seen our other deep breathing exercises here on the site. These are all themed activities that encourage deep, mindful breathing as a coping strategy, and they are based on themes that kids can recognize and relate to. This heart activity acts as a coping tool that fits perfectly with our occupational therapy Valentine’s Day activities.

        Deep breathing heart activity for kids to use in mindfulness exercises or deep breathing exercises as a coping strategy.

        Heart Deep Breathing Exercise

        I love this quick mindfulness activity, because it is based on a shape that everyone knows. Use the picture and the arrows to take deep breaths in and out as you trace along the outer edge of the heart image.

        Kids can use this heart breathing activity as a mindfulness strategy or as a sensory coping tool to help with self-regulation and coping skills.


        Sometimes, coping strategies are needed when out and about or when a coping toolbox is not available.

        Having a set of strategies to reset is helpful. That’s where this mindfulness tool comes into play. There are a couple of ways to use this heart deep breathing exercise without the actual image.

        Start by teaching kids about breath control.

        Then, try this strategy to use deep breathing when the need comes up, no matter where the child is, and what specific coping tools they have available. For this activity, all they’ll need is their hands.

        Because a heart shape is such a well-know image, kids can use the heart shape and picture a heart in their mind. Then, show them how to draw a heart on the palm of their hand using their pointer finger of the other hand.

        They can practice taking deep breaths in and out as they trace the imaginary heart on their palm.

        This is a deep breathing tool that goes anywhere they do!

        Another idea is to draw a heart on paper. When they trace around the heart, show kids how to take deep breaths in and out.

        Just use the printable version as a visual example, with the arrows and pause points. They can then use the coping strategy any time.

        Free Breathing Exercise Printable

        Want to print this off and use it as a poster or visual reminder for deep breathing exercises? Enter your email address in the form below and you’ll receive a printable PDF of this heart shaped deep breathing activity.

        Free Heart Deep Breathing Exercise

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          Want more heart activities?

          Want to add more Valentine’s Day activities and movement tools to your skill-building?

          he Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit is here! This printable kit is 25 pages of hands-on activity sheets designed to build skills in pinch and grasp strength, endurance, eye-hand coordination, precision, dexterity, pencil control, handwriting, scissor skills, coloring, and more.

          When you grab the Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Kit now, you’ll get a free BONUS activity: 1-10 clip cards so you can challenge hand strength and endurance with a counting eye-hand coordination activity.

          Valentines Day fine motor kit

          Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

          Pencil theme deep breathing

          pencil theme deep breathing exercise

          Today, I’m continuing with our pencil theme with another deep breathing exercise. This pencil themed breathing activity is a fun way to incorporate mindfulness or self-regulation strategies into a therapy theme. In occupational therapy interventions, OTs often times work with kids on the occupation of handwriting. It’s a necessary “job” of students and an important part of a child’s participation in education. I think the OTs out there will appreciate this pencil deep breathing activity in therapy sessions!

          Pencil Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

          This deep breathing exercise goes well with other deep breathing exercises we’ve shared here on the site. Here is information on breath control, including deep breathing exercises. You’ll find information on deep breathing as a coping strategy impacts self-regulation as well as achieving that alert-calm state that enables us to focus and attend.

          In the classroom, this is so important!

          Want to add this pencil deep breathing activity to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email into the form below and the PDF will be mailed to your inbox.

          You can also direct your students to this blog post and pull up the image below. Kids can follow the arrows in the image below. Then, they can use a pencil with the same deep breathing strategies no matter where they are.

          Pencil theme deep breathing exercise.

          Free Polar Bear Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

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            Here are more deep breathing/mindfulness resources you will love:

            Join the pencil grasp challenge!

            Want to know how to fix a problem with pencil grasps? Need help knowing where to start when it comes to immature pencil grasps or a child hating to write because their hand hurts? The Pencil Grasp Challenge in open for you! In this free, 5 day email series, you’ll gain information, resources, specific activities designed to promote a functional, efficient pencil grasp.

            The pencil grasp challenge is a free, 5 day mini course and challenge. During the course of five days, I’ll be teaching everything you need to know about the skills that make up a functional pencil grasp. You’ll learn what’s going on behind the inefficient and just plain terrible pencil grasps you see everyday in the classroom, clinic, or home. Along with loads of information, you’ll gain quick, daily activities that you can do today with a kiddo you know and love. These are easy activities that use items you probably already have in your home right now.

            Are you in??

            Besides learning and gaining a handful (pun intended) of fun ideas to make quick wins in pencil grasp work, you’ll gain:

            • 5 days of information related to pencil grasp, so you know how to help kids fix an immature pencil grasp.
            • Specific activities designed to build a functional pencil grasp.
            • Free printable handouts that you can use to share with your team or with a parent/fellow teachers.
            • You’ll get access to printable challenge sheets, and a few other fun surprises.
            • And, possibly the best of all, you’ll get access to a secret challengers Facebook group, where you can share wins, chat about all things pencil grasp, and join a community of other therapists, parents and teachers working on pencil grasp issues.

            Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

            free pencil grasp challenge

            Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

            Breath Control

            breath control

            In this blog post, you’ll learn about breath control as a coping tool. By consciously breathing using deep breaths and engaging the diaphragm, controlled breathing is a strategy for regulation and helping kids reach a calm and alert state so they can focus. Let’s discuss breath control and deep breathing as a tool for children!

            Breath control strategies for children to use deep breathing as a self regulation strategy.

            As an occupational therapist working with children, there have been many times that I have told myself to ‘Just Breathe’. It’s always been something that has helped me to center myself and helped me to deal calmly with the situation at hand. Despite gathering a fair amount of experience over the past 20 years I found myself using this phrase more than ever before as we were all thrown into a whole new pandemic world
            last year. And it helped me on a number of levels.

            I started talking to the children that I work with about breathing and I started incorporating breathing exercises into our therapy sessions. This wasn’t entirely new but somehow it took on a new meaning while facing so many changes and so much uncertainty. And the kids LOVED it. What a simple effective way to help calm and focus children (and adults!) Just breathe!

            What is Breath Control?

            Before we explored how to breathe I chatted to my young clients about why it is important to breathe. Apart from the obvious (we need to stay alive!) we spoke about how breathing can help you feel calmer, can help you focus and concentrate and can help you prepare for a challenge or new activity.

            Breath control uses conscious breathing, or an awareness of using deep breaths as a strategy for regulation. Engaging the diaphragm for full, “belly breaths” allow for controlled breathing and is helpful in allowing children to reach a calm and alert state so they can focus.

            Breathing exercises have been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which tones down the bodies fight or flight response to stress. In the therapy setting it is essential for clients to be in a calm-alert state in order for therapy to be effective. Deep breathing, mindful breathing , and deep breathing exercises help to achieve this state.

            Breath Control for Kids

            I found that clients from the age of five years were able to engage in these conversations about breathing and feeling calm. Therapists, teachers and parents can use this as an opportunity to connect with children and can use breathing exercises to begin to understand how to help children with self-regulation. Read more about additional information on the benefits of breathing in children. For research on the benefits of deep breathing as a self-regulation strategy, check out this Clover Deep Breathing Activity.

            How to improve breath control

            Once we had covered the importance of breathing we started to look at how we should breathe if we wanted to reap the benefits of this self-regulation tool.

            The challenge was to encourage children to slow down when they engaged in this activity! Not an easy task when the majority of my caseload are little bundles of energy who do things at 100 miles an hour.

            But we worked on it and practiced together discovering that it was really important to to fill your lungs up when you breathe in and empty them out when you breathe out.

            We also practiced breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth.

            Breath Control Analogies

            It was helpful to give few different analogies and use illustrations while we were developing our breathing technique. Try these strategies for breath control:

            Breathe like you are inflating and deflating balloons.

            Breathe like you are smelling flowers and blowing dandelions.

            Breathe like you are buzzing bees.

            Try Take Five Breathing and use your hand as a prompt take five deep breaths.

            Pumpkin Deep Breathing Activity

            Clover Deep Breathing Exercise

            Snowman Deep Breathing Activity

            Penguin Deep Breathing Exercise

            Polar Bear Deep Breathing Exercise

            Football Theme Deep Breathing

            Each child seemed to find technique that they were comfortable with and breathing exercises became one of warm up activities at the beginning of each session.

            We added this to our breathing exercises toolbox and the box continues to grow as the children make up their own breathing activities or as I come across more breathing resources online.

            Breath Control Anywhere

            The beauty of breathing exercises is that you can breathe anywhere! No special equipment or apparatus needed.

            With practice and encouragement children can incorporate these simple exercises into their everyday lives e.g. before they do homework, before an event they perceive as stressful, before bedtime.

            As adults we can model the use of breathing exercises and reap the rewards from them as well.

            Tips for breath control

            Tips for Breath Control

            Use these tips to teach breath control to help with controlled breathing, full breath intake, and diaphragmic breathing.

            • Explain why controlled breathing is important.
            • Breathe slowly.
            • Fill your lungs up and empty them out.
            • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
            • Use illustrations and visual cues.
            • Practice together and encourage children to use the breathing exercises on their own.

            I know that if you make breathing exercises part of your child’s daily routine you will see improvements in their focus and attention and improvements in their ability to self-regulate. So go for it and just breathe.

            Polar Bear Self-Regulation Activity

            Polar bear theme deep breathing exercise for kids

            Back by popular demand, this polar bear themed self-regulation activity is designed to be used with other polar bear activities here on The OT Toolbox. Add this deep breathing activity to others in your toolkit and work on self-regulation skills with deep breathing exercises. You can print this free resource off and use it all winter long.

            Be sure to check out our Winter Fine Motor Kit for more polar bear activities and other arctic animal themes.

            Polar bear self regulation activity has a polar bear theme deep breathing exercise for kids

            Polar Bear Self Regulation Activity

            This deep breathing activity is an idea originally created on this website, (and you’ll now find copies on other sites, unfortunately without giving credit for their replications). At any rate, this is a fun way to offer self-regulation strategies to cope with big emotions, sensory needs, and calming strategies through deep breaths in and out.

            Deep breathing adds heavy work through the mouth and nose, adding calming proprioceptive input that can calm.

            Holding a deep breath in full lungs or empty lungs offers an opportunity to integrate interoception and talk about how the body feels with that deep breathing.

            These are mindfulness strategies at work! There are many benefits of mindfulness work and deep breathing exercises are one way to incorporate those techniques.

            Here are additional winter mindfulness activities.

            More polar bear activities

            Try these hands-on activities with a polar bear theme:

            Polar bear math activity– This doubles as a polar bear craft with fine motor benefits. We used the polar bear crafts as math manipulatives, combining fine motor and math.

            Polar bear science– This is an OLD activity here on the website, but a classic! Learn about how polar bears stay warm in the arctic temperatures. You’ll love the polar bear craft here, too.

            Polar Bear Gross Motor Activity– This is an indoor gross motor activity that challenges balance, coordination, strength, and mobility. All you need is some space and a few blankets.

            Polar Bear Activities– Here you’ll find polar bear books, a polar bear themed snack, and much more. Fun stuff to add to your polar bear theme!

            Polar Bear Sensory Craft– We made homemade puffy paint and turned it into a polar bear craft with tactile sensory benefits.

            Grab the Winter Fine Motor Kit, with 100 pages of done-for-you therapy activities, including polar bear themes. Grab it now before January 9th and you get a bonus of 3 fine motor slide deck activities.

            Click here to get the Winter Fine Motor Kit.

            winter fine motor kit

            Polar Bear Deep Breathing Exercise

            Use this polar bear deep breathing exercise in print out version or use on a tablet screen while working on these deep breathing exercises. It’s a great way to use the strategies while on the go as well.

            Want to grab your copy of this printable deep breathing activity to add to your therapy toolbox? Enter your email address below and grab the printable.

            Free Polar Bear Theme Deep Breathing Exercise

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              Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to