Self Awareness Games

self-awareness games

In this blog post, we’re covering all things self awareness games. We have previously covered aspects of self-reflection, and these self-awareness games are the perfect fit if you are looking for activities to support this social and emotional development skill. Self-awareness plays a major role in self-regulation skills and knowing when and how to implement self regulation strategies that support the individual’s needs.

self-awareness games

“Do you want to be happier, have more influence, be a better decision-maker, and be a more effective leader? Self-awareness, then, is the most important muscle you need to develop. It’s what will keep you on target to be the best version of yourself and the best leader you can be.” I love this excerpt from the Better Up website. It seems like a great sales pitch for self awareness, and makes me want to get in on it! Can you imagine if this was a product to buy, a pill to take, or something that did not require effort and constant adjustment?

Self-Awareness Games

While there is no magic potion for building self awareness, there are some great Self Awareness Games out there to make building this skill more fun. Children and their adult counterparts are more likely to start and stick with something if it is motivating and fun.

Occupational therapy practitioners use tools such as games and play to facilitate the skills needed for functional tasks and independence. Self-awareness games can specifically target the social emotional skills needed for self-reflection, growth mindset, and other aspects of development.

Before we get into the games, let’s cover what self-awareness means.

what is self awareness and what are the benefits?

Self-awareness is more than just and awareness of your your own person. It’s also more than body awareness, or being physically aware of where your body is located in space. However, we might think about self-awareness as an internal mirror.

Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund proposed this definition: “Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards.”

Only 10-15% of the population have self awareness. This Self Awareness Test can give you insight into what it means to be self aware.

Self-awareness is an emotional intelligence skill. It’s a skill that facilitates self-regulation.

There are several benefits to having self awareness:

  • It gives us the power to influence outcomes
  • Self awareness helps us to become better decision-makers
  • Awareness of ourselves gives us more self-confidence — so, as a result, we communicate with clarity and intention
  • It allows us to understand things from multiple perspective, and frees us from our assumptions and biases
  • It helps us build better relationships
  • It gives us a greater ability to regulate our emotions
  • It empowers us to participate in co-regulation
  • It decreases stress, and can make us happier

what to look for when developing self awareness

Self awareness or enlightenment goes beyond just knowing if you are a nice person or not. There are several categories that take part in being aware. These include:

  • Being aware of your inner self (feelings, thoughts, voices) A fun feelings check in activity is great for this.
  • Awareness of your world view or how life exists and why we are here
  • Awareness of your personal beliefs
  • Awareness of your inner conflicts
  • Awareness of your life values
  • Being aware of stress and negativity triggers
  • Understanding your own personal limitations
  • Identifying self sabotage
  • Understanding your “inner parents” (what part of your parents do you carry with you)
  • Being clear on thoughts about your goals and future

This sounds like a lot of work and self reflection. It is. Let’s explore some Self Awareness Games that might make this process a little less painful.

All About Me activities supports children in understanding what makes them “tick”. For the younger kids, starting with all about me activities is a great place to start developing an awareness of what makes each person an individual. All About Me preschool activities has some ideas to get you started. You can also use this All About Me PDF for older kids.

self awareness games – store bought

Sometimes you just want to click on a website and order a game rather than trying to make it yourself. This is fine and there are certainly plenty of self awareness games to choose from.

Amazon affiliate links are included below. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  • The {AND} game self love edition (affiliate link) – “Discover yourself with selfcare and reflection cards, designed to help you discover your true self; With 199 questions and prompts, it encourages you to explore your feelings, beliefs, and experiences, helping you gain a deeper understanding of who you are”. This game is more appropriate for young adults than children.
  • Head Rush (affiliate link)- Head Rush requires quick self reflection, and less hesitation, encouraging more revealing answers. Perfect for building rapport and starting meaningful conversations that encourage players to reflect on their feelings, memories, desires and overall self. Appropriate for kids, teens and adults
  • The Ultimate CBT game (affiliate link)- 15 games suitable for 7-14 year-olds, based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and covering all ABCD model parts. Self-Regulation with Fun – Help them identify their feelings while providing skills to cope with their emotions in a relaxed atmosphere using mindfulness techniques, coping thoughts, breathing techniques, problem solving, etc.
  • What do you Stand For Card Game (affiliate link)- this game is based on a book series. This card game spotlights ten top character traits: Caring, Citizenship, Cooperation, Fairness, Forgiveness, Honesty, Relationships, Respect, Responsibility, and Safety. 
  • Wood Rock Stacking Game (affiliate link)- This game has wooden rocks that need to be stacked. The person who knocks it over loses. There are several versions of this card set, each with a different skills game. Adding a simple game is another way to introduce talking and reflections cards.
  • Sussed (affiliate link)- a wacky “Would you Rather” card game – A great icebreaker and educational activity for improving social skills – no matter how old you are! Practice empathy, speaking & listening skills and self-awareness in just 15 minutes of play.

Other ideas include modifying games you already have. You can adapt ready made games with stickers, prompts, etc. You can add reflections and questions to store bought games like Jenga, Don’t Break the Ice, checkers, Memory, etc. We shared some ideas in our blog post on learning with games you already own.

DIY self awareness games

These self awareness games for students can be used in schools, homes, clinics, or any location. Because they are the homemade variety, the cost is low as well.

  • Journaling – while not a game, a great way to practice self awareness. This is a classic “go to” of therapists everywhere. There are some middle school journal prompt ideas that have been developed.
  • Puppet show – Get a few of your child’s favorite stuffed animals and put on a puppet show. Act out a past situation of exactly what happened. This could be your child getting angry at their sibling, feeling scared of the dark or being super excited on Christmas Eve. Acting out situations is a great way to explore emotions and think about alternative ways of expressing them.
  • Pass the Ball – write conversation starter questions on each wedge of a ball. Throw the ball and answer the question that pops up on top
  • The Mirror Game – This game is played by two people who sit facing each other. One person starts by making a facial expression (e.g., raising their eyebrows), and the other person must mimic their emotion. The goal is to match the face as closely as possible. This game helps improve self-awareness by teaching people to pay attention to their facial expressions and body language.
  • APPs and games – if you are into using technology as a learning tool, there are some great apps and games out there. We have some free apps for occupational therapy that can support these areas.

more self reflection ideas

While working on oneself can be challenging, everyone has growth potential. Buy or make a self awareness game to work on this important skill.

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

New Year Printable

Free printable for New Years

Today, I have a fun New Year printable for you: A New Year’s maze worksheet! What are you and your learners doing to prepare for next year?  As a writing prompt and lesson starter, we are including a free downloadable New Year Maze to help out. This printable end-of-year activity for students is great for reflecting on the past year, helping students set goals for the new year, AND developing a growth mindset for a new year!

Free New Years printable for kids

NEW YEAR Printable

As the new year approaches, there should be time for self-reflection on the accomplishments and lessons learned this year.  

That’s where this New Years printable comes into play: reviewing the past year, and looking toward the upcoming year, all with a growth mindset.

Not all lessons will be positive, nor should they be.  People learn and grow through making mistakes. Growth mindset, as highlighted in our recent post on supporting growth mindset mistakes, is a great tool for understanding the concept of learning and growing. 

Another resource, the Big Life Journal is a great resource for goal planning and growth mindset.


The New Year Maze is a printable New Year’s worksheet kids will love. The printable is a three part task that can be used in therapy, at home, or as a therapy home program over the holiday break.

Included on this New Years printable are three aspects:

  1. Write a memory from this year.
  2. Complete the maze.
  3. Then write a new goal for this year. 

Because the New Year’s printable is a tool for therapy and building skills, it focuses on various aspects of development: visual motor skills, visual perception, and handwriting all in a functional maze activity.

The free printable has three different versions. 

  1. The first is a color version of the New Year Maze highlighting the writing line for learners with visual perceptual challenges during writing tasks
  2. The other two versions are printer-friendly in black and white, with single rule lines
  3. Printer-friendly with wide rule writing lines. containing two different styles of lines

This printable New Year’s maze can be used with different levels or to address various skills in therapy…so print off copies for your therapy caseload or classroom.

Use the New Year’s maze worksheet to:

  • Lowest level learners can dictate what they would like written, and/or draw pictures
  • Middle level learners can write one or two words about their memories and goal, or copy from a model
  • Higher level learners can write an idea about a New Years goal, then use this as a writing prompt for a longer paper. This turns into a multilevel activity to use during many sessions.  They can also draw about their ideas, or copy the designs
  • Put learner’s page into a sheet protector to reference later in the school year and again at the end of December
  • Make this part of a larger lesson plan including gross motor, sensory, social, executive function, or other fine motor skills.  This New Year Activities post is full of great ideas to expand your treatment sessions
  • Talk about memories, describe what makes them great or terrible, and what they learned from it.  Share your own memories of the year to make yourself relatable
  • Enlarging the font may be necessary to beginning handwriting students who need bigger space to write
  • More or less prompting may be needed to grade the activity to make it easier or harder
  • Executive function – observe how your learners handle this open ended task.  Some skills to watch for are: following directions, attention to task, attention to detail, focus, sequencing, planning, task completion, neatness, impulse control, compliance, behavior, and work tolerance are all important skills to learn
  • If your learners are struggling, deconstruct the task to determine what area is causing them difficulty.  Visual perception, handwriting, thought processing, executive function, fine motor skills, strength, or 27 other possibilities could be causing frustration or shutdown

New Years Printable for Setting Goals with Kids

You can use this New Year’s printable in therapy to work on specific goals with kids and set objectives for the upcoming year.

Writing goals and setting objectives is at the heart of individual education planning (IEP).  While this is tedious, it is necessary and effective.  While encouraging learners to set their own goals, consider how you formulate the goals used in their IEP.  SMART goals are key to successful goal planning.  Are your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound?  If not, they may fail.  

Here is a post on breaking down goals to get you started.  Learners might need a tool such as this goal ladder to help them understand and formulate SMART goals.  

As you work with your learners to set great goals on this New Years Maze, think of the reason they may have failed in the past.  Perhaps their goal was not:

  • specific enough (I will eat less junk food), 
  • measurable (how much is less junk food), 
  • attainable (can you really cut back on junk food), 
  • relevant (is eating junk food causing you a problem), and 
  • timebound (how long do you give yourself to eat less snacks?)

As you think about your own goals, is the type of goal, or an element of it, holding you back?  Challenge yourself to write a really SMART goal this year and see if you can make progress.  It could be difficult, or very easy (I will eat three pieces of chocolate every day).

Growth Mindset for the New Year

When we work with kids using this New Year’s printable activity, we can talk about their cup being half empty, half full, or bubbling over.

This goes back to growth mindset and personal beliefs. Learners of all ages and stages have different feelings and beliefs about their skills. 

  • Some believe they are just terrible at everything and their cup is still draining. 
  • Others feel they are amazingly perfect, and their cup is bubbling over with enthusiasm. 
  • The third group are the realists.  They understand we are never perfect, there is always room for self improvement. 

Unless your learners are truly perfect, you might have to gently squash a couple of bubbles, and point out things they can improve, or a new skill while pondering their New Year’s Maze assignment.  This is the essence of learning and change.

As I think about the upcoming year, I challenge myself to set personal objectives. This year was a gratitude jar.  I wrote down all of the great things that happened, the moments that made me thankful, and the shining stars in my life.  I will read this in the new year to reflect on what went right this year.

Free New Year’s Printable Maze Worksheet

Want a copy of this New Year’s worksheet (that builds skills in many areas?) Enter your email address into the form below. Or, if you are a member of The OT Toolbox Member’s Club, access this printable New Year’s activity in our New Years Therapy Theme (Level 2 members) or in our freebie dashboard under Handwriting Tools (Level 1 & 2 members).

Free New Year’s Printable: Maze Worksheet

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

    What you Need to Know about Interoception

    interoception sensory information

    Interoception is a sensory term you may not have heard of before…but you have certainly felt or been impacted by the processing of our interoceptive sense! Internal feelings of hunger, fatigue, thirst, body temperature, digestion, and other internal systems offer a certain “feeling”, right? This is your interoception sensory system at work! Here, we’re covering everything you need to know about this complex sense, and taking a detailed look at how interoception impacts function.

    Interoception sensory input impact regulation, modulation, and function.

    Interoception The 8th sense

    Did you know that the five senses we were taught in school is not actually a complete list of a human’s senses? In fact, there are 7 or 8 senses that humans experience, depending on who you ask.

    Understanding our many senses helps us comprehend how we and others experience the world around us. For the sense we are highlighting today, it is how we understand what is going on inside of us. Check out this post on the OT Toolbox regarding Multisensory Learning: Emotion Activities.

    Definition of the interoception sense

    Interoception is the sense of oneself; it is the ability to understand the body’s physical signals that tell you when you are hungry or full, thirsty or quenched, hot or cold, scared or calm, etc.

    Interoception refers to the body’s ability to identify and process internal actions of the organs and systems inside the body. This lesser-known sensory system helps you understand and feel what’s going on inside your body. You can then make essential decisions about eating when you are hungry, drinking when you are thirsty, going into the restroom when you need to toilet, and other physical actions.

    There are nerves throughout the body that send these signals to the brain to help regulate the body, and promote homeostasis. 

    Some of these signals require a conscious act, like drinking water when we are thirsty, while others are non-conscious, like sweating when we are hot.

    Interoception comes into play when we consciously realize, “Oh, I am sweating because I feel hot, I should take off my jacket to cool down.” 

    Information on interoception, this blog post covers the definition of interoception, and interoception sensory strategies.

    How Does Interoception Impact Function? 

    Interoception can be thought of as a mind-body connection. Having a strong interoceptive sense would mean that you have a strong sense of the physical self, and what you need to promote comfort at any given time.

    Being able to confidently act on your body’s needs, makes everything a bit easier. You are likely able to make it to the bathroom before an accident, eat food before you feel light-headed, and stop eating before you feel sick. 

    But what about individuals who are not able to accurately process the bodies internal signals? They may find it more challenging to be potty trained, have a healthy diet, or emotionally regulate. 

    The ability to understand and respond to our body’s needs is a huge factor in our independence. If we don’t quite know what our bodies need, it makes everyday activities much more challenging, and focus on school or work tasks may dwindle. 

    Interoception even has to do with how our body moves, the action of bones in the skeleton, bone growth (growing pains have a lot of “pain” that is felt internally for kiddos who are rapidly growing! Be sure to check out this related blog on bone names to help tach kids about this concept.

    Functionally, interoception impacts so many areas of everyday tasks:

    • Eating
    • Drinking
    • Sleep
    • Toileting
    • Getting dressed (putting on temperature-appropriate clothing, or taking off clothing before becoming overheated)
    • So many more considerations!

    Interoception and Emotion 

    Interoception has a strong connection to emotional processing because of the physical way that we experience emotions. Our muscles clench when we are angry, quiver when we are scared, and relax when we are calm.

    Likewise, the stomach may feel upset when we are nervous, and one might get a headache from frustration. People with good interoception can relate these physical feelings to emotions. 

    If a person sensory processing differences, the signals from the body may not be accurately represented or relayed to the brain. They may be muddied or confusing, leading to a misunderstanding of what the body is trying to tell the brain. Because of this, a tickle may feel like pain, or a person may not know why they are experiencing discomfort. 

    Without interoception, labelling emotions is then a bit more challenging, as well as understanding how to remedy undesired feelings.

    Children may act out in aggression, cry or scream uncontrollably, or show other signs of sensory dysregulation, potentially due to a lack of interoception

    If you know a child who has multiple characteristics of reduced interoception, like potty accidents, over/under eating, and emotional dysregulation, they may benefit from therapeutic intervention to improve their body awareness. 

    The interoception system plays a part in feelings and emotions, too.

    When we feel anxious or worried, we might feel a tenseness about us. Our heart rate might speed up, and we feel that anxiety coursing through our systems.

    But for the child with difficulty expressing these feelings, they can’t tell us what they are feeling on the inside. They don’t have the words to identify specific interoceptive feelings they are having.

    Others might not recognize a racing heart. They might not realize that physical implication of anxiety or worry because they can’t actually feel their racing heart (when it is very much racing).

    When one feels anxious about a situation or an idea, we can help them to focus on their heart beat. We can help them take deep breaths to calm down. This focus on how their body is responding can help their internal state match the environment.

    Other ways to help with interoceptive identification include habit and routines to help us feel organized. When we know what to expect, we feel a lot more organized. The body is able to modulate better.

    As we increase the challenge, we have to also increase our supports. We can use some external organizational strategies (deep breaths, awareness, mindfulness, heavy work, routines) to help compensate for the lack of internal ability to organize ourselves.

    When we are disorganized, this is where we can fall apart. We have to be mindful ahead of time, and be accommodating and accepting of immature nervous systems, whether this is with our children, our spouse, or ourselves.

    Tips for Improving Interoception 

    There are all sorts of activities you can do with children to help increase their interoception skills. Below you will find tips for improving interoception, including mindfulness, and children’s books on topics like emotions, potty training, and problem solving. 

    • Modelling how you understand your bodies signals may also help – be sure to emphasize how you are feeling, and what you will do about it! 
    • Mindfulness – the act of intentionally connecting to oneself and/or the world around them. This can help an individual get “out of their head” and feel more grounded in the present moment. By doing so, it may improve self-awareness and a positive mood. Mindfulness is not just great for improving interoception – see this article for more information
      • This video guides a progressive muscle relaxation. Intentionally contracting and releasing muscles brings more awareness to the physical body, and deepens the connection that we feel to it.   
      • Here we have another video that guides mindfulness, in the form of a “body scan”. It also adds a great piece of education for children on what it means to understand their bodies signals, and why it is important. 
      • The OT Toolbox has this great list of more active ways to explore mindfulness through gross motor play
    • Focus on awareness- So often, parents, children, clients, educators, and even professionals are not aware of ALL of the ways that the interoceptive sense impacts everyday functioning, learning, and daily participation in everything one does throughout the day. Educate, educate, educate! Then, bring that awareness to a full circle with activities that take the concept of interoception in daily tasks home. For example, you can cover how sleep is impacted by interoception and incorporate a few of our hibernation activities. Without interoception, animals that hibernate would not instinctively know to fill up on foods before winter and to keep eating even when they may feel full. Then that sleep that allows them to slumber through the winter is in effect. It’s all related!
    • Try calm down toys Use a variety of supports in the form of play to support regulation needs. This can offer heavy work, regulating movement, or calming input.

    Books to Improve Interoception

    Below are Amazon affiliate links to resources and books on interoception and internal states.

    • We Listen to Our Bodies is a book that follows a young girl as she feels emotions through her day. The physical representations of emotions are highlighted in ways that are familiar to young children.
    • For a similar read pick up this book, that follows a boy and his day full of feelings at the zoo! 
    • Time to Pee by Mo Williams is a great book that helps kids understand how to respond when they have that ‘funny feeling’ in their tummies. 
    • I Feel… activity books have been praised by therapists for their ability to make learning mindfulness fun! The activity book linked here focuses on sickness in the body and what it feels like to be sick in different ways. 
    • The OT Toolbox has a great resource called the Sensory Lifestyle Handbook to tie sensory processing together
    • For more children’s books on mindfulness to elicit peace and calm, check out this resource:
    Sensory lifestyle handbook- How to create a sensory diet

    While interoception is new and lesser known, it is an important sense to have.

    Sydney Thorson, OTR/L, is a new occupational therapist working in school-based therapy. Her
    background is in Human Development and Family Studies, and she is passionate about
    providing individualized and meaningful treatment for each child and their family. Sydney is also
    a children’s author and illustrator and is always working on new and exciting projects.