Mindfulness is learning to be present in the moment. This practice can be a critical self-regulation strategy for children and teens (and adults too, of course). There are lots of benefits to practicing mindfulness including improved self-regulation skills, support managing emotions, and creating a sense of calm. So, it’s fair to say that this is a practice all learners should have access to.
Sometimes the idea of “being present in the moment” is a little too abstract for kids, though. Especially when introducing the idea of mindfulness, hands-on mindful tools can help learners grasp the concept. practice the skill, and ultimately start to feel calm.
Here are 20+ hands-on mindfulness tools for kids and teens:
Bubbles. Using bubbles can be one of the best ways to introduce mindfulness to kids and teens because they are hands-on and visual. You can use them to teach slow and mindful breathing, while later on encouraging kids to remember their “bubble breathing.”
Breathing Sphere. A breathing sphere or Hoberman ball is one of the most fun and interactive ways to talk about mindful breathing. It incorporates visuals and movement. Just expand the ball as you breathe in and shrink the ball as you breathe out.
Stones. Mindful stones or worry stones are sets of stones with words written on them. You can use these to have kids choose a stone that resonates with them, make a design with them, or just hold them in their hands.
Fidgets. There are a multitude of different fidgets to use, from fidget spinners and cubes to stress balls and flip chains. Try out different fidgets to see which work best for you and your learners.
Mindful Breathing Cards. Practicing mindful breathing is a lot easier when you have some strategies to try! Pizza breathing, hot cocoa breathing, and shape breathing are just a few. Use these mindful breathing cards to set the stage for success.
Timer. A simple timer is a helpful tool for mindfulness. Just set the timer and “do nothing” for a period of time. If this is challenging, allow coloring while the timer goes. A visual timer is one the best options because kids and teens can visually see how much time is left to go.
Magnifying Glass. Using a magnifying glass helps us to look a little bit closer at the fine details of things. You really can use it to look at anything. Practice describing what something looks like, what shapes it has, and the colors you see.
Breathe Boards. Use a breathe board to help kids and teens trace shapes as they breathe in and out. Grab these free printable breathe boards to get started.
Binoculars. Watching wildlife is extremely mindful, and there is often so many animals all around us every day! Use a pair of binoculars to help kids and teens notice things in the world around them.
Zen Garden. A zen garden helps practice mindfulness with soothing and repetitive patterns as you rake through the sand.
Digital Mindfulness Workbook. While mindfulness doesn’t have to be linked to technology, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes it’s a helpful tool to teach and practice these skills. This digital mindfulness workbook is interactive to help kids and teens practice breathing techniques, visualizations, and more.
Kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope gives a calming visual experience. Encourage kids and teens to think about the shapes and colors they see as they look through.
Coloring Pages. Coloring books or printed coloring pages are an excellent way to work on mindfulness and calm. Gather a variety of drawing utensils (my favorite are colored pencils or gel pens). Teach kids to breathe in and out as they color. What’s most important is to not worry about what’s right or wrong; just color and be. Grab these free mindfulness coloring pages to try.
Spirograph. A fun art tool can be turned into a mindful experience. Use a spirograph to repetitively make shapes and designs while breathing in and out. There is also a travel version that kids can take with them!
I Spy Books. I Spy books encourage kids to focus and find specific objects in the pages. This is mindfulness! Best of all, you can find several different types of I Spy books specifically tailored to your learner. As as nature lover, I chose this I Spy Animals book.
Liquid Timer. Simply put, a liquid timer is one of the most calming visual tools. Just turn it upside and watch as the liquid bubbles down. You can get these in a variety of colors and shapes.
Pinwheel. Another tool helpful for mindful breathing, use a pinwheel to help kids and teens gauge their breaths. Later on, you can remind kids and teens to practice their “pinwheel breathing.”
Mindfulness Game. Sometimes, a game is the best way to teach and practice new skills. Use a printable mindfulness board game to practice deep breathing, visualization, and more.
Glitter Jar. A glitter jar or sensory jar is a bottle with water and glitter inside. When shaken, the glitter jar can be soothing to watch. To make this experience even more hands-on, you can actually make your glitter jars together.
Kalimba. A smaller version of a mbira, a kalimba is a wooden soundboard with keys to play. The sound of a kalimba is immediately tranquil! Plus, it’s easy to play along.
Puzzles. What’s great about puzzles is you can alter the difficulty by choosing larger or smaller puzzles with different sized pieces. It’s usually best to make it a little bit of a challenge, but not too hard. This encourages focus but reduces frustration. Encourage kids and teens to complete the puzzle as they breathe in and out. Choose calming puzzle scenes or favorite topics- that’s up to you!
Positive Self-Talk Cards. Positive affirmations are always a helpful strategy to practice mindfulness. Just the phrases like “Today, I choose to think positive,” and “I am strong,” can help calm the body and mind. Use positive self-talk cards on a ring to practice the affirmations. Make up your own with your favorite affirmation phrases or get this printable positive self-talk set here.
Singing Bowls. For another calming auditory experience, try singing bowls! When hit, they produce sounds and vibrations to aid in relaxation.
Breathing Books. Literature is always a helpful way to teach new skills. Use books that talk about mindfulness and deep breathing strategies to set a positive tone for a mindful practice. One of my favorites is Breathing Makes It Better by Christopher Willard.
Calm Strips. I recently discovered these and I think they are incredible, especially for older kids. Just stick them onto a surface (like a binder or a desk) and kids can use them as they practice mindful breathing or even starting their work.
Fortune Tellers. Kids and teens often love crafts. They’re hands-on and allow for creativity. Use this mindfulness fortune teller set to get started. Bonus: If you’re already a Pathway 2 Success subscriber (thank you!), head over to the free resource library and try one out for free.
Do you have favorite mindful tools for kids and teens? Share them below!