Heart Deep Breathing Exercise

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

    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 as a self regulation strategy.

      Be sure to check out our other deep breathing exercises as well as 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. We explain a lot about how this works in our blog post on the Zones of Regulation.

      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 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.

        Growth Mindset

        mindset strategies

        Tools to support growth mindset can come in all shapes and sizes. From journals, to coping toolkits, to targeting self-awareness, putting growth mindset strategies into action supports self-regulation, learning, and everyday functioning! Understanding when and how to use growth mindset strategies is the beginning of self reflection. A lot of this has to do with metacognition!

        If there’s one thing that we all need, it’s a positive outlook and a growth mindset. Our children especially, would benefit from resilience, coping skills, and coping with big life changes. Supporting kids of all ages with growth mindset tools such as a growth mindset sorting activity can help to put those tools into action.

        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

        Let’s start with a definition of growth mindset and then break it down.

        A growth mindset refers to the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication, hard work, and learning. Individuals with a growth mindset perceive challenges as opportunities to learn and improve rather than as obstacles that define their capabilities. This concept, popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck, contrasts with a fixed mindset, where individuals believe their abilities are innate and unchangeable.

        Embracing a growth mindset fosters resilience, a love for learning, and a willingness to face challenges, making it a valuable perspective in various aspects of life, including education, career, and personal development.

        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 (Amazon affiliate link) 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. (Ages 7-10)

        And the resource for older kids: Big Life Journal for Teens and Tweens (Ages 11+)

        As well as the adult-version: Big Life Journal for Adults (Ages 18-99)

        Big Life Journal PRintables

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

        I love that the Big Life Journal is available as a printable PDF on the company’s website, making the printables easy to print off and use with your students or children.

        OT providers often support students and clients with mindset, and we know that Mindset is everything! The Big Life Journals help your child, tween/teen, or even YOU to develop the mindset of growth, resilience, gratitude, and positivity.

        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.

        Spider Mindfulness Exercise

        mindfulness exercise for kids with a spider theme

        This mindfulness exercise uses a spider activities theme, making it great for Halloween activities with kids that need a moment to stop and breathe. I wanted to create a spin on some of our popular mindfulness for kids activities and exercises from the past. (You can access these mindfulness worksheets below).

        mindfulness exercise for kids with a spider theme

        Mindfulness Exercise for Kids

        This mindfulness activity focuses on deep breathing. When children focus on a steady point, trace lines with their finger, and focus on deep breathing, it can help them to re-center and refocus other thoughts.

        There are many benefits of mindfulness strategies, and mindfulness tools like this one can be very helpful for children, especially during the unpredictable nature of a classroom Halloween party or during trick-or-treating.

        From addressing mood, regulation, and cognitive functioning, this Halloween activity can be a big help in classrooms or learning at home during the weeks leading up to Halloween.

        Other children may benefit from the mindfulness strategy as a coping tool or to address stress or worries this time of year.

        Still others can practice listening skills and auditory awareness as they complete the deep breathing exercise and focus on the lines of the spider web.

        Use this spider theme activity at Halloween time, or even in the midst of a Halloween party or trick-or-treating with children who need a moment to reset. Print off the deep breathing worksheet, slip it into a page protector, and you are ready to rock this Halloween!

        How to use this mindfulness worksheet

        To use the deep breathing worksheet, simply ask students to use their pointer finger to start anywhere on the edge of the spider web. They can then trace along the outside border of the web to meet each colored dot. When they “land” at a dot, they can read the directions and deeply breathe in or breathe out. Then, they can follow the along the spiderweb path to the next dot as they continue breathing in or out.

        This spider web deep breathing exercise would be a great addition to a spider web obstacle course!

        Click here to access this free mindfulness worksheet.

        Reminder, please do not share this worksheet with others. Instead, direct them to this website for access. Thank you!

        More mindfulness exercises

        Here are other mindfulness exercises for kids that you will want to grab:

        Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

        Thanksgiving Deep Breathing Activity

        Christmas Mindfulness Activity

        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.

        Pumpkin activity kit
        Pumpkin Fine Motor Kit

        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!

        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.

        Benefits of Mindfulness

        Benefits of mindfulness

        There are many benefits of mindfulness, and in particular to the practice of mindfulness for children. Mindfulness affects the brain development and mechanisms in a few different ways according to research. Some research has indicated that the brain is impacted structurally through mindfulness activities

        Benefits of mindfulness in children include positive attributes such as improved emotional regulation, attention, mood, cognitive function, and more.

        Benefits of Mindfulness

        Here are a few ways that mindfulness dresses functional skills and benefits of mindfulness:

        Mindfulness Improves Mood

        Part of mindfulness is the act of being aware of oneself, as well as an awareness of the surrounding environment. Having this awareness allows for a better understanding of things, situations, people, or events that impact mood.

        In fact, working on mindfulness techniques can change and impact mood overall, because mindful techniques and strategies change the brain by improving connectivity among some brain areas and changing tissue density in key regions.

        Through mindfulness techniques, those with mood disorders are able to better pay attention to the sensations and feelings they are experiencing, rather than fester in negative thoughts that can lead to a bad mood or changes in mood level (mood swings).

        Instead, mindfulness offers a chance to evaluative one’s thoughts in the present moment, with a consideration of sensory input. The practice of this self-evaluation offers a chance for the brain to “exercise” and strengthen the pathways involved in experiential self-reference.

        Mindfulness Helps with Emotional Regulation

        Researchers have found that mindfulness and emotion regulation are related and are correlated, based on four factors:

        • Awareness and attention to the presence (being present and aware in any given moment)
        • Having a sense of acceptance of one’s experience
        • Clarity and understanding about one’s internal experience
        • Ability to manage negative emotions (for emotion regulation)

        Mindfulness and Attention

        Research suggests that mindfulness meditation training improves attention. In fact, mindfulness has been found to improve aspects of attention, including the specific attentional processes of alerting, orienting, and executive attention.

        The alerting process allows us to maintain a state of vigilance or alertness. We see this process when we are alert and ready to attend or respond to relevant stimuli when they arise. The orienting aspect of attention is responsible for attending selectively to a location in space.

        The executive control aspect of attention is responsible for deciding between competing inputs. These three aspects of attention function independently, but are all critical for attention in general. Here is more information on attention and various aspects of attention.

        Mindfulness Helps with Rumination

        Rumination refers to the process of deeply thinking about something, or go over and over a thought in the mind. Rumination can be a detrimental process that is not only a counterproductive way to process situations or events, but can lead to overthinking in a way that has a potential for some people to experience aversive emotions such as depression, anxiety, fear, anger, or self-depreciation.

        One study found that mindfulness decreased depression that occurs from rumination and that specific aspects of mindfulness reduced depression. These include acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting.

        Mindfulness Improves Cognitive Functioning

        Research has found that mindfulness impacts cognitive function. There has been preliminary evidence suggesting that mindfulness can improve cognition specifically in the domains of focused attention, working memory capacity, and other executive functions.

        Participants were provided with mindfulness techniques such as attention to the breath, focused body-scans, yoga, walking meditations, meditation recordings of guided meditation, and journaling as mind-body practices.

        The study concluded that mindfulness based interventions show some evidence for improving cognitive impairment among breast cancer survivors.

        Mindfulness Helps with Focus

        One study has found that mediation practice improves focus. Having a mindful awareness in the present moment was found to reduce incidents of getting off-task in thinking.

        Mindfulness meditation allowed for a switch of attention from their internal thoughts to the external environment. When this switch happens, one is able to focus on their body, mind, and environment in the moment rather than other thoughts, worries, and stressors.

        One practical way to improve focus is to bring awareness to your breath each time you feel your mind wandering. This can be practiced during meditation. This practice actually strengthens the brain’s neural circuitry for focus. 

        Mindfulness Improves Gray matter density

        Interestingly, mindfulness has been found to improve grey matter density in the brain. Following an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, participants showed increases in gray matter concentration within the brain, including the hippocampus and cerebellum.

        Mindfulness techniques in this study included formal mindfulness training exercises including a body scan, mindful yoga, and sitting meditation. This included guided meditation, gentle stretching exercises and slow movements that are often coordinated with the breath, and awareness of the sensations of breathing, then evolve to include awareness of different modalities (such as sounds, sight, taste, other body sensations, thoughts and emotions).

        Also used were audio recordings for implementation of meditation strategies at home, and instructions to facilitate the integration of mindfulness into daily life during everyday activities such as eating, walking, washing the dishes, taking a shower etc. 

        Mindfulness Reduces Stress

        Mindfulness has been found to reduce stress as well. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an established program that includes various forms of mindfulness practice. These consist of formal and informal meditation practice, yoga, breath-focused attention, body scan-based attention, shifting attention across sensory modalities, open monitoring of moment-to-moment experience, walking meditation, and eating meditation.

        Mindfulness-based stress reduction is believed to have an impact on one’s emotional response to situations by modifying the brain’s cognitive–affective processes.

        Mindfulness improves Self-Awareness

        Mindfulness uses mental training in the form of awareness of the mind and body so that awareness of self is automatic. Practicing mindfulness is in itself, self-awareness in any given situation.

        By improving this skill, one can have the ability to effectively modulate one’s behavior, or experience self-regulation. Practicing mindful techniques strengthens self-awareness skills.

        Mindfulness Improves Self control

        One researcher described mindfulness as a strategy to helps us become more aware and accepting of emotional signals—which helps us to control our behavior. She says that the thought that mindfulness leads to less emotionality, or that mindful people experience less emotion is simply not true.

        In fact, mindfulness allows for improved emotion regulation through a present-moment awareness and acceptance of emotional experience. 

        Mindfulness as a Coping Strategy

        Mindfulness as a coping strategy for kids can impact sensory or emotional needs and help children regulate their body’s response to input, so that they can accomplish tasks, learn, and function in the home, classroom, or community.

        Mindfulness and Executive Functioning

        Studies have linked mindfulness with executive functioning skills, and it makes sense! Mindfulness is a strategy to increase attention, working memory, self-monitoring, emotion/mood, conflict attention and impulse control.

        And, by increasing an awareness and acceptance of various emotional states, those who meditate may excel at executive control because of their ability to attend to the emotions associated with making errors in any given situation. Fascinating!

        Mindfulness Improves Listening skills

        Mindfulness is centered around awareness and self-reflection. So, when we listen with intention, and really focus on the person talking to us, you can give your full attention to the person speaking.

        Mindful listening is a way of listening without judgment, criticism or interruption, and without letting your mind wander. It allows you to be aware of internal thoughts and reactions but listen with focus.

        Fostering these listening skills allows for better understanding and comprehension. 

        A final word on mindfulness benefits in children

        There is a lot of information here that defines mindfulness as a tool to improve various skillsets in kids. My hope is that this information on mindfulness can be a starting point to drive goals and therapy activities for children.

        For specific mindfulness activities for kids here on The OT Toolbox, try these ideas to gain all of the benefits of mindfulness:

        Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids

        Mindfulness Library

        Mindfulness YouTube Videos for Kids

        Pumpkin Deep Breathing Exercise

        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.

        Fun Mindfulness Activities

        Here, you will find fun mindfulness activities to help kids with creative mindfulness exercises that can help kids feel better, reduce stress, address anxiety, and have a greater awareness of their body and mind. Mindfulness activities for kids can be used as a self-regulation tool or a coping strategy. The sky’s the limit!

        Looking for more ways to teach mindfulness? Here are winter themed mindfulness activities that kids will love. 

        These FUN Mindfulness activities are helpful self-regulation tools for kids.


        Fun Mindfulness Activities

        First, let’s talk about what mindfulness means.

        Mindfulness activities for kids can help kids with attention coping, learning, self-regulation, and more!

        What is mindfulness?

        Mindfulness is the ability to bring your attention to the events happening in the moment. It allows us to carefully observe our thoughts and feeling, to develop a sense of self awareness.  Mindfulness can be done anywhere. It does not require special equipment. It can be as easy as sitting and thinking or visualizing a place in your mind.

        Who is mindfulness good for?

        Mindfulness is great for any age, including kids. School can be a very overwhelming experience with expectations, rules, noises, crowds. Being able to do fun mindfulness activities can be a good way for children to self-regulate, focus and feel better emotionally and physically. Learning how to self-regulate (being able to manage your own emotions) is an important skill to learn at a young age.

        Mindfulness is a helpful tool in addressing executive functioning skills needs in kids.


        Mindfulness activities for kids

        Listed below are some easy, beginning mindfulness activities to try with kids.
        Looking for more ideas? Here are some mindfulness videos on YouTube.

        Mindfulness Activity #1: Mindful Breathing- 

        Taking deep breaths is so important in relaxation it brings awareness to your body. There are many different ways to teach kids to take deep breaths and then blow out. Using a pinwheel, blowing bubbles, blowing out candles, picturing a balloon opening and closing with breath. Even having your child breath in while you count to 5 and then breath out.

        Mindfulness Activity #2: Body Scan- 

        Have your child lay on his/her back. Tell them to tense up all muscles from head to toe and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then have them release and relax, ask them how they feel. This exercise helps kids to recognize how their body is feeling in a tense vs. Calm state.

        Mindfulness Activity #3: Visualization or Guided Imagery–

        This is a relaxation technique that is used to promote positive mental images. You can find guided imagery scripts online, pertaining to many different subjects from nature to emotions. Start by having your child close their eyes, while seated or lying down. Slowly read the script and have them visualize the image in their minds, then have them draw a picture of that place and keep it in their desk or at home as a reference to a calm place for them.

        Mindfulness Activity #4: Take a Walk- 

        Being outside and taking a walk is a great way for your child to be present in the moment. Point out the different sounds heard from birds chirping to leaves rustling. Notice the smell of the fresh cut grass or flowers. Feel the different textures of sand and rocks. Notice the sun, wind and clouds. Bring a blanket and lay on the grass, look up at the trees, look at the clouds.   Walk over to a pound and listen for frogs, look for fish and throw rocks in to make a splash.

        Mindfulness Activity # 5: Stretching/Yoga- 

        Taking deep breaths and stretching can be a very calming and teaches you to be aware of how your body is feeling.  Turn the lights down, put on relaxing music and help guide your child through bedtime relaxation stretches for kids.

        Use these mindfulness strategies for kids as a coping strategy, to help with attention in the classroom, to impact learning, or to address self-regulation needs. What’s very cool is that each awareness activity could be themed to fit classroom or homeschool lessons, the curriculum, or seasons. Make these mindfulness activities fit the needs of your classroom, clients, and kids!

        Mindfulness is a coping strategy used in The Impulse Control Journal.

        The Impulse control journal is a printable journal for kids that helps them to identify goals, assess successes, and address areas of needs. The Impulse Control Journal is a printable packet of sheets that help kids with impulse control needs.

        Read more about The Impulse Control Journal HERE.

        The Impulse Control Journal has been totally revamped to include 79 pages of tools to address the habits, mindst, routines, and strategies to address impulse control in kids.

        More about the Impulse Control Journal:

        • 30 Drawing Journal Pages to reflect and pinpoint individual strategies
        • 28 Journal Lists so kids can write quick checklists regarding strengths, qualities, supports, areas of need, and insights
        • 8 Journaling worksheets to pinpoint coping skills, feelings, emotions, and strategies that work for the individual
        • Daily and Weekly tracking sheets for keeping track of tasks and goals
        • Mindset,Vision, and Habit pages for helping kids make an impact
        • Self-evaluation sheets to self-reflect and identify when inhibition is hard and what choices look like
        • Daily tracker pages so your child can keep track of their day
        • Task lists to monitor chores and daily tasks so it gets done everyday
        • Journal pages to help improve new habits
        • Charts and guides for monitoring impulse control so your child can improve their self-confidence
        • Strategy journal pages to help kids use self-reflection and self-regulation so they can succeed at home and in the classroom
        • Goal sheets for setting goals and working to meet those goals while improving persistence
        • Tools for improving mindset to help kids create a set of coping strategies that work for their needs
        This is a HUGE digital resource that you can print to use over and over again.  


        These fun mindfulness activities for kids can help kids in so many ways!
        About Christina:
        Christina Komaniecki is a school based Occupational Therapist. I graduated from Governors State University with a master’s in occupational therapy.   I have been working in the pediatric setting for almost 6 years and have worked in early intervention, outpatient pediatrics, inpatient pediatrics, day rehab, private clinic and schools. My passion is working with children and I love to see them learn new things and grow. I love my two little girls, family, yoga and going on long walks.