19 Mindfulness Activities for Kids in a Classroom Setting
1. Stillness Challenge
How do you get a classroom full of energetic and excited little kids? It’s easy to think that it is impossible, but the truth is that it is possible. You can start with a stillness challenge for the elementary kids. Be sure that getting the whole classroom to sit in a lotus position calmly is not easy but start small.
You can decide to turn off the lights and play some calming sounds. Also, having them sit down for 30 minutes of blissful stillness can be frustrating so try to set a time for every two to three minutes. You can do this repeatedly until the kids are perfectly still.
2. Mindfulness in Eating
Yes, this works too! First, choose the edible- a piece of candy or raising can work perfectly. Next, have the kids sit down and give them some candy. The idea here is to have the kids close their eyes and calmly sit down while holding the piece of candy in their mouths.
For two to three minutes, have the kids focus on the sensory experience of the candy in their mouth- the taste and feel of the candy. If their thoughts happen to drill away, they should easily bring them back to the “candy moment.” This activity enhances the capacity for stillness and focus.
3. Mindful Sensory Challenge
First, have the children sit still and together take a few deep breaths with them. After the deep breaths, first, have them concentrate on what they hear – including the slightest sounds – for 30 seconds.
Secondly, have the children concentrate on what they can smell for 30 seconds. For another 30 seconds, have them focus on what they can feel. Lastly, have them open their eyes and, for 30 seconds, have them intensely focus on what they can see.
4. Sounds Challenge
The sound challenge is both fun and relaxing mindfulness activity for kids. Have the kids sit silently and calmly in the classroom. Using a Tibetan sounding bowl, a bell, or a tuning fork, have the children listen as you make sounds with the item. The sounds you make should be fading sounds.
The kids should listen carefully and only listen to the sounds you are making with the tool of your choice. Make fading sounds with the device and have kids bow their heads if they can no longer hear the sound.
Mindfulness Activities for Middle School Kids
5. Write Down on a Journal
According to the American Psychological Association, 5.8 out of 10 teenagers are most stressed throughout the school. Therefore introducing activities like keeping a journal in a classroom setup is crucial to keep these numbers down.
6. Mindfulness in Dancing
This is a good activity in both the classroom setup or at home. Dancing is not only fun for middle schoolers, but it also helps them develop and cultivate positivity while dancing. You can have them dance for as long as you have time, but the idea is to dance through a single song.
However, mindfulness dancing is not just dancing; it also involves focusing on the rhythm as you close your eyes. It also involves feeling your body’s movements and how the body naturally adapts to the rhythm. So you can guide them through what you want them to do before you put up some music for them to dance to.
7. Mindful Cooking
Cooking has been a source of therapy for many people dealing with stress and trying to cope with depression. Have the teenager choose a recipe that they would enjoy preparing and cooking.
8. Mindfulness in walking
Surprisingly, everyday activity such as walking can become a form of therapy too. Find a peaceful and quiet location where you can have your middle school students have a brisk walk.
9. Mindfulness Breathing
Mindfulness in breathing is one of the most chosen activities for managing stress and relaxing. It is an excellent activity for a middle school student who is anxious and stressed out.
Find a calm, quiet place for your teen students. Then, have the students lie down on the floor, placing both of their hands down or one hand on their tummies to feel the breathing. Have them count ‘one’ as they take a deep breath.
5 Fun Mindfulness Interventions, Techniques, and Worksheets for Adults
There are several ways to engage in mindfulness on an individual level, including worksheets, techniques, and different exercises.
If the idea of participating in group mindfulness exercises is anxiety-provoking or stressful for yourself or your clients, then diving into mindfulness practice alone can be the best way to proceed.
1. The Observer Meditation
- Take a comfortable seated position, and listen to the script.
- Let yourself settle into your body and your mind.
- Try to let go of thoughts and clear the mind of its usual considerations.
- Focus your attention first to the room you’re sitting in. Picture yourself from the outside as you sit, exactly as an outsider might. Next, shift your attention inwards into your skin. Try and feel your skin as you are sitting in the chair.
- Try to envision the shape that your skin is making as you sit in contact with the chair, shifting your awareness toward any physical sensations you are experiencing. As you feel each one, acknowledge its existence before letting your consciousness let go of it and move on naturally.
If you find any emotions coming up, recognize them and create space for them. Then bring your attention back to your observing self—your feelings and thoughts are there, but you are separate from them, noticing them. This is the “Observer you”.
This exercise can be continued for as long as desired and there are many stages you can work through that will help you practice being an observer of yourself. It is not an easy exercise at first because we are often habitually inclined to react to and over-identify with our feelings.
The goal of evoking the Observing Self is to enter a separate mode which allows you to step back from yourself and your experiences. Simultaneously, however, you are connecting with a deeper constant self that is unaffected by dynamic emotions.
2. Five Senses Exercise
This exercise is called “five senses,” and provides guidelines on practicing mindfulness quickly in nearly any situation. All that is needed is to notice something you are experiencing with each of the five senses.
Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your pants, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the smooth surface of a table you are resting your hands on.
Take a moment to listen, and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the chirp of a bird, the hum of the refrigerator, or the faint sounds of traffic from a nearby road.
Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps the breeze is carrying a whiff of pine trees if you’re outside, or the smell of a fast-food restaurant across the street.
Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, at this moment. You can take a sip of a drink, chew a piece of gum, eat something, notice the current taste in your mouth, or even open your mouth to search the air for a taste.
This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring you to a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two, or don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan or fill out a worksheet, the five senses exercise can help you or your clients bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.
3. The 3-Step Mindfulness Exercise
You can find another great exercise if you are strapped for time in this 3-Step Mindfulness Worksheet. In this exercise, there are only three steps:
4. Mindful Walking Down The Street Technique
One core process that can be influenced by mindfulness practice is our ability to observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without reacting to fix them, hide them, or solve them. This awareness creates room for choice between impulses, and action which can help develop coping skills and positive behavioral change.
5. The 3-Minute Breathing Space
With meditations and the body scan, thoughts often pop up, and keeping a quiet and clear head can be a challenge. This last exercise can be the perfect technique for those with busy lives and minds. The exercise is broken into three sections, one per minute, and works as follows:
Keeping a quiet mind can be rather challenging, and thoughts will often pop up. The idea is not to block them, but rather to let them come into your mind and then disappear again. Try to just observe them.
All the exercises mentioned above can be used for the benefit of yourself, individual clients, and even in group settings. They are beneficial to all client groups; however, some will be better suited than others, so a method of open-minded trial and error can often be necessary.
Introducing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (or DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is mainly used to treat individuals with borderline personality disorders.
The Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy-Mindfulness
In one study, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy-Mindfulness (DBTM) training was added to general psychiatric treatment to test its effectiveness. A module on mindfulness was developed to help clients achieve the “wise mind,” and focused on two sets of skills—the “what” skills and the “how” skills (Soler et al., 2012).
What are the “What” skills?
These skills allow the client to be aware of what is happening to them and of their part in their own experience. Becoming aware of their own thoughts and grounded in the present forms the foundation for the next set of “how” skills.
How Do the “How” Skills Work?
Individuals in this study who received DBTM training, in addition to the usual treatment, had enhanced benefits compared to the group who received only the usual psychiatric treatment: the more minutes an individual spent practicing mindfulness, the greater the improvements in psychiatric symptoms (Soler et al., 2012).
5-10 Minute Mindfulness Activities for Children
#1 Mindful Breathing
- Students can stand or sit for this activity.
- Ask students to put both hands on their belly.
- Students should close their eyes, or look down to their hands.
- Guide students in taking three slow deep breaths in and out to see if they can feel their hands being moved.
- You may like to count “1, 2, 3” for each breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out, pausing slightly at the end of each exhale.
- Encourage students to think about how the breath feels, answering the following questions silently, in their mind.
– What is moving your hands? Is it the air filling your lungs?
– Can you feel the air moving in through your nose?
– Can you feel it moving out through your nose?
– Does the air feel a little colder on the way in and warmer on the way out?
– Can you hear your breath?
– What does it sound like?
#2 Pinwheel Breathing
Providing students with an object to focus on is a great way to encourage concentration during mindfulness lessons. Use pinwheels in conjunction with the mindful breathing exercise above, making the pinwheel spin with every exhale.
#3 Belly Buddies
#4 Shark Fin
Coined by former Mindful Schools co-founder Laurie Gossman and Mr Musumeci’s Grade 5 class of the book “Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress” fame, the Shark Fin is a fantastic tool that you can use during any quick moment in your day. It will help to calm your class, or individual students, when their minds and bodies may be fighting against them.
#5 Breathing Colours
This activity is similar to the first mindful breathing activity, however it uses visualising colours as a means to increase focus and awareness. You may like to download our printable Breathing Colours Guided Meditation Script.
#6 Breathing Hands
#7 Back-to-Back Breathing
#8 Body Scan
This is a fantastic activity that students can “take home” with them. It can be particularly useful to do a body scan to help relax before sleep. Download our printable Body Scan Guided Meditation Script to use with your class.
- Students lay on the floor, with their eyes closed if they are comfortable (or they may prefer tolook at the ceiling).
- Encourage students to pay attention to their feet for 5 or 10 seconds.
Questions to ask during a body scan:
– How does this body part feel?
– Is it cold or warm?
– Does it feel tight or relaxed?
– Is all or part of that body part touching the floor?
– Or clothing?
– What does that feel like?
- Move on to their toes, then ankles, then calves and knees. Continue body part by body part until you reach the head.
- Question how each part of the body feels to bring students’ awareness to their body in the moment.
- If there is tightness or stress, imagine breathing the stress out of that part of the body with each exhale.
Practising Active Mindfulness
Mindful breathing is arguably the most important skill you can teach your students when it comes to mindfulness. However, being able to incorporate into everyday activities the calm and focused state of mind that the breathing activities practise can be viewed as a more tangible end-goal.
The following ‘active’ practices help to hone the skill of mindful action. Some students who struggle with the ‘still’ mindfulness activities may be more likely to feel successful during active practices.
#9 Mindful Eats
This is a great activity to bring attention to how mindlessly we sometimes eat! Whether sitting in front of the tv, chatting to friends at lunch, or scrolling through something on the internet or social media, we often “switch off” when eating because it is such a familiar action.
Mindful eating can combat over-eating, it helps bring our attention to the flavours and tastes of different foods and helps us to realise what effects different foods have on how our bodies feel.
Students need something small to eat for this activity. Often a square of chocolate is a fun “challenge”, although you could provide a piece of fruit or any food item that you feel will work with your class. Be sure to take any allergies into consideration!
#10 Mindful Steps
- This activity is best completed outdoors and if suitable, students may like to walk barefoot.
- Give students a clear boundary for where they can walk during this activity.
- Each student selects a small area where they can walk in a line for about 5 or 6 steps and back then back to where they started without getting into another person’s way.
- Begin this practice with three deep breaths, or the Shark Fin activity (#4 above).
- Take 5 or 6 steps in one direction, turn slowly and then take 5 or 6 steps back to where you started.
- While walking, students bring their awareness to their breath and their body.
– What does the ground feel like under your feet?
– Which part of your foot touches the ground first when you take a step?
– Does your body feel heavy or light today?
– Are you slouching when you walk?
– Or, is your back up quite straight?
– Try not to change the way you walk, but instead just notice how your body naturally moves.
#11 Mindful Sounds
For this mindfulness activity, you will need something that makes a bell sound. There are some great meditation apps that have recorded bell, meditation cymbal and singing bowl sounds, however, if you can have one of these small instruments in real life, the sound is much better!
#12 Spidey Senses
Karen Young from Hey Sigmund has a beautiful collection of mindfulness activities for kids on her blog. Spidey Senses is a fun way to frame this traditional mindfulness exercise. Our five senses poster and graphic organiser can be useful resources for teaching the senses to younger students.
#13 Gratitude Practice
- Students use a notebook or a folder and paper to make a Gratitude Journal.
- Practise gratitude journaling at a regular time each day, perhaps first thing in the morning, after lunch or just before the end of the day.
- Take five minutes to think of something that you feel grateful for today. Here are some topics or ideas you can use to guide your students:
– Something that someone else did for you that day.
– A person in your life that you appreciate.
– An activity or hobby you are grateful to be able to do.
– A positive quality of someone that can sometimes be hard to get along with.
– A skill or ability you have.
– A part of your body you are grateful for and why.
– An item that you love.
– Something that made you laugh.
– What you have learned from something that was hard.
Another beautiful idea is for each student to put their day’s thanks into their own Gratitude Jar, or to create a Gratitude Tree where each day’s thanks is written onto a ‘leaf’. This could either be on a notice-board or be hanging on a string from the limb of a real plant or tree branch. (Mayuri Gonzales, Little Flower Yoga)
#14 Glitter Bottle