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Teaching kids mindfulness techniques can be a way to incorporate self-awareness, self-regulation, and the senses. The winter months, can be a time when mindfulness is especially necessary. The winter mindfulness activities for kids listed below include tips for mindfulness in the classroom and creative mindfulness exercises with a winter theme. These mindfulness activities can be used as a support for so many occupational therapy goal areas. In fact, the benefits of mindfulness are many! Read on to learn more.
This post is part of our Winter Week here on The OT Toolbox. Each day this week, we’re sharing creative winter activities that can be used in occupational therapy plans, therapy home programs, the classroom, or home!
First, let’s talk about what is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of one’s actions and self in the moment. Mindfulness is an important part of self-regulation and the ability to regulate our senses, feelings, and body. It allows us to focus on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting “what’s happening” on the inside. These are our thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be aware of our body without responding rashly. In kids, mindfulness is important in the ability to pay attention and responding to input from the world around us. For kids, mindfulness is noticing their body and the things happening around them. It has a lot to do with impulse control. Just like any other skill, mindfulness is an ability that develops over time.
It’s easy to see how this skill relates to so many other areas that occupational therapists address: self-regulation, self-confidence, attention, social-emotional skills, coping skills, sensory processing, impulsivity and inhibition, and overall well being.
It’s a big part of treating the whole person!
How to Teach Mindfulness
There are ways to develop and refine self-awareness. The good thing to know that as occupational therapists, we are skilled in the areas that play into mindfulness: sensory processing (including interoception), coping strategies, self-awareness, and self-regulation.
It’s important to recognize that there is no one way to teach mindfulness. Each child is different and with different needs, strengths, and interests. The winter themed mindfulness activities below are just some strategies that teach the skill of self-awareness in a variety of ways. They all have one thing in common though…they are all winter themed!
Winter Mindfulness Activities for Kids
Sensory Snow Painting- If you live in an area with snow, bring some indoors and pull out the watercolors. We shared an activity when this website was just a baby site on painting snow with watercolors. Add some calm and quiet music as you paint to make it a mindful act. Slowly and deliberately attend to the watercolors as they mix together. Add slow breathing for a mindfulness activity that results in a sensory component.
Use what you’ve got! This post from Grow Wise Yoga shares tons of easy and creative ways to use everyday materials in winter themed indoor mindfulness activities. I love that there are suggestions to use craft pom poms, beads, clay, scarves, and other materials that promote fine and gross motor skills in the act of mindfulness, too!
Make a Winter Themed Sensory Bottle- Blue glitter, water, snowflake sparkles or beads…this sounds like a winter sensory bottle idea that would make a great mindfulness tool! In fact, kids can use a sensory bottle to calm down, focus on the moment, concentrate on breathing, and attend to the present moment. A sensory bottle is a mindfulness tool that can be used as a coping strategy and in self-regulation. Here are tips and suggestions for how to make a sensory bottle.
Attending to a sound or sounds can be a way to mindfully focus in a moment. We’ve shared auditory processing activities here on The OT Toolbox that can help with this skill. Some ideas include listening with concentration to a single sound as it moves around a room or changes in volume. Some tools that we’ve shared on our auditory processing page include DIY shaker bottles, bell dominos, DIY rhythmsticks and other tools.
Stretch and move- Intentional breathing combined with stretch as in yoga stretches can be a strategy to teach mindfulness.
Practice Guided Mindfulness- Counselor Kori has some great winter themed printable resources that guide mindfulness including a hot cocoa activity and craft, a snow globe activity and craft, and a snowman mindfulness activity. These can be used to teach mindfulness while exercising the ability to refocus with a centered breathing pattern.
Guided Meditation and Relaxation Script- Follow a guided script to recenter with meditation and mindfulness. Greenchild has some free guided meditation scripts for kids that you can follow within a theme during the winter or all year round.
Looking for more Winter Activities? Be sure to check out the other activities we’re sharing this week!