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 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.

    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!

    This rainbow breathing activity is a great mindfulness tool to use with other rainbow activities. You can even add some Rainbow Fruit Loop craft ideas for fine motor fun.

    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 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.

        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 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.

          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

            We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

            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.

            Big Life Journal for Growth Mindset

            Big Life Journal giveaway

            Today I’m excited to share a resource for growth mindset…a Big Life Journal! If there’s one thing that this year needs, it’s a positive outlook and a growth mindset. Our children especially, would benefit from resilience, coping skills, and coping with big life changes. The Big Life Journal does all those things!

            Big Life Journal for Growth Mindset

            Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

            Since we are talking all things growth mindset, and and resilience…and resilience seems to be a common topic this year, I thought I would run through some common terms when it comes to growth mindset and developing the skills of resilience in children.

            mindset definitions and other skills such as empathy, mindfulness, resilience,

            Growth Mindset Definitions

            Empathy– Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the feelings and perspective of others.

            Mindset– Our mindset is the way that we think about ourselves and the world around us. It’s the attitude that we have about ourselves and the world. It’s our mood and the way with think about problems or tasks that we need to accomplish. Mindset is a way of looking at the problems or situations in front of us. Addressing difficult tasks and mistakes is part of mindset. Executive functioning skills play a part in mindset.

            Growth Mindset– Growth mindset is the ability to confront challenges, view hard tasks as an oppourtunity and a process. Someone with a growth mindset believes they are not limited by their abilites or intelligence. When we use a growth mindset, we believe our abilities or our ability to learn new things can improve given effort.

            Fixed mindset– Fixed mindset is a limiting belief that impacts our ability to solve promblems, learn new skills, react to situations, and respond to daily situations. Fixed mindset can impact wellness and well-being, as well as learning and task completion.

            Mindfulness– Mindfulness is our ability to focus on our awareness and presence in any given moment. It’s our ability to acknowledge and accept our feelings, thoughts, body sensations and the world around us in any given task or activity.

            Resilience– resilence refers to one’s ability to have a mental toughness, and the ability to recover quickly from difficult tasks or situations. Resilience offers the ability to bounce back or respond and react in the event of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or stessful situations.

            Coping Skills– Coping skills are the specific steps one might take to react and respond to events, internal thouhgts, emotions, and daily tasks. It’s the strategies a person can use to consciousely solve personal or interpersonal problems. Coping skills can be physical methods, self-talk, sensory strategies, and other specific skills that allow for wellness and wellbeing.

            Self-talk– Self-talk is that internal dialogue that is constantly running in your mind. Self-talk can be a coping skill, and it can impact mindset. This internal dialogue is influenced by your subconscious thoughts as well as conscious thoughts.  Self-talk can be both positive and negative and has the ability to impact resilience and mindfulness.

            You can see how all of these terms are inter-related and how they all impact one another. When these skills are growing and developing children can accomplish tasks and not limit themselves in learning and developing as an indiviual.

            All of these mindset definitions can be strengthened, using tools and specific strategies. And, by working on these various areas, children (and ourselves) can respond to challenging situations (like distance learning, for example) that require us to pivot and change.

            Also connected to all of these areas are social emotional learning, executive functioning skills, and the emotional regulation part of executive functioning skills.

            Critical thinking plays a big part in development of mindset and the other growth areas listed above.

            So how to work on these areas to foster a growth mindset, positive self-talk, coping tools, and resilience in kids?

            Mindset strategies for kids

            Strategies for Mindset

            Specific strategies can help, along with a plan. Below are some strategies to address mindset and the other areas listed above.

            • Work on wellness and wellbeing- Check out these wellness strategies
            • Practice mindfulness
            • Help others
            • Focus on positive self-talk
            • Identify goals and work on those areas
            • Breaking down goals into smaller, achievable steps
            • Work on perspective
            • Create a toolbox of strategies
            • Foster a positive outlook
            • Practice working memory strategies and learn from mistakes
            • Focus on the present and mindfulness

            One method for working through these skills is with the Big Life Journal.

            Children can use the journal as a working tool to foster specific strategies and methods for developing persistnece, growth mindset, and a positive perspective. These stragies can be a powerful way to help kids accomplish tasks, believe in themselves, and grow and develop as a person.

            You can get a copy of the Big Life Journal here.

            Big Life Journal

            Want to add a Big Life Journal to your toolbox? Let’s get kids developing resilience, social emotional learning, and mindset.

            Check out the blog comments below for ideas to help kids to develop skills in empathy, resilience, mindset, self-talk, and mindfulness.

            This product was featured in our Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway Series. (Giveaway now closed.)

            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.

            Gross Motor Mindfulness Activities

            Gross motor mindfulness activities for children

            These gross motor mindfulness activities combine several sensory systems to improve mindfulness in kids. There are many reasons to add mindfulness activities to learning in the classroom or at home. Some of those benefits of mindfulness include improved attention and focus, emotional regulation, cognitive functioning, self awareness, and  listening skills. There are many other additional benefits of mindfulness, too. When we add gross motor movements and whole body movements to mindfulness activities with intention, resistive input through the proprioceptive system adds calming input. Likewise, movement in different planes adds calming or alerting input. 

            Gross motor mindfulness activities for kids

            These whole body mindfulness tasks can be included in brain breaks or within learning activities. 

            Gross motor Mindfulness Activities

            Using mindfulness along with whole body movements can be a good way to help kids re-center themselves so that they can focus inwardly and be more aware of  what’s happening in their body as well as the outward behaviors or actions that are happening in their environment in the classroom or home. 

            Reach and Breath- Kids can stand as tall as they can. They should start with both hands down at their sides. As they slowly reach up, they can take a deep breath in. When both hands touch above their head, they should pause and hold their breath for a moment. Then, they can slowly lower their hands to their sides as they breath out a long, slow breath. Raising their arms with their breathing encourages movement of the shoulder girdle and increases the capacity for breathing in. What while lowering their arms pushes out more air to encourage for expulsion of air from the lungs.

            Arm long breathing-This technique encourages use of the full lungs when breathing in and breathing out to expel all of the air in the lungs. Starting with the hand at the opposite shoulder, the child should slowly breathe in as they move their hand down their outstretched arm. When their hand reaches their other hand, they should pause for a moment, and then slowly start to move their hand back to the shoulder as they breathe out. 

            Yoga breaths- Encourage deep breathing and full body motions such as warrior or downward dog.

            Starfish Breaths- For this whole body movement and deep breathing activity, children can imagine their hand is a starfish. As they take a deep breath in and out, they can slowly open and close their hand so all fingers are extended and then pulled into a fist. At the same time, they can raise their hand up over their head as they breath in and down to the ground as they breathe out.

            Bend and stretch breathing– Students should reach both arms up overhead. As they bend forward at the hips, they can slowly breathe out through their mouth and reach down to touch their toe with their opposite hand. Students should then raise up at the hip with at the hips and reach their arm back overhead as they breathe in through their nose. Make this a group gross motor activity with a few adjustments.

            Watch the Target- Using a target that is paired with deep breathing and slow, gentle motions can be a gross motor mindfulness activity that allows kids to become aware of their body’s movements as well as the world around them. Make a DIY streamer like we did in the past using a dowel rod and ribbons. Party streamers taped to an unsharpened pencil would work for this activity too. Kids can hold the streamer with their arm extended and move slowly as they take deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouth. Try to pair upward motions with deep breaths in and downward motions with deep breaths out. 

            Each of these gross motor activities can be used to improve mindfulness and kids in the classroom or in home. 

            Gross motor activities to develop mindfulness

            More mindfulness activities

            Be sure to grab these deep breathing and gross motor activities. When possible, combine the deep breathing and mindful awareness to movement and whole-body activities to create a centering activity.

            Free pumpkin deep breathing activity

            Free spider web mindfulness activity

            Free clover deep breathing activity

            Free Thanksgiving mindfulness activity

            Free Christmas mindfulness activity

            Free Football mindfulness worksheet

            Dinosaur gross motor activity

            Heavy work movement activities

            heavy work movement activity cards
            Heavy Work Movement Cards- special deal!

            Use these heavy work cards to help with building body awareness, motor planning abilities, proprioceptive input, or a movement activity as a brain break to pay attention between learning activities.

            In the set of cards, you’ll find heavy work activities in the following themes:

            1. Trucks Heavy Work Activities

            2. Insects Heavy Work Activities

            3. Sea Animals Heavy Work Activities

            4. Farm Animals Heavy Work Activities

            5. Jungle Animals Heavy Work Activities

            6. Woodland Animals Heavy Work Activities

            7. Superheros Heavy Work Activities

            8. Sports Heavy Work Activities

            9. Monsters Heavy Work Activities

            10. Summer Heavy Work Activities

            11. Butterfly Life Cycle Heavy Work Activities

            Each activity page includes 8 movement and heavy work cards in that theme.

            These heavy work activities can be added to home programs, teletherapy activity plans, or used as brain breaks during learning and play.

            Click here for the Heavy Work Movement Activities

            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.