Mindfulness is a critical self-regulation strategy for people of all ages. It can help us feel calm, focused, and in control. Learning to be mindful doesn’t have to be confined to the four walls of a building or classroom. In fact, there are numerous opportunities to practice mindful activities outside.
Here are a few outdoor mindful techniques to try:
Blow bubbles. A strategy for focusing on deep breathing, blowing bubbles is an interactive and fun way to practice mindfulness. You can find bubbles at your local dollar store, online, or make them yourself with dish soap. Before blowing the bubbles, talk about mindful breathing and focusing on your breath. This is one of the most foundational elements to mindfulness. When we calm our breathing, we can calm our minds.
Watch wildlife. Spend time watching wildlife in your backyard, a local park, or on a hike. Once you spot something, spend time actually watching the behavior of the animal. Binoculars help, but this is something you can do without them, too. Afterwards, talk about all the things you saw that you never noticed before.
Go barefoot in the yard. In a spot that is safe, like the backyard or a sandy beach, kick off your shoes and let your toes touch the ground.
Watch the clouds. Sit or lie down on the ground. Breathe in and out as you watch the clouds roll by. And of course, take note when a cloud looks like something else. This is a fun activity by itself!
Practice mindful breathing. Of course, mindful breathing is a technique you can practice anytime. Essentially, mindful breathing is focusing on our breath as we breathe in and out. One summer breathing activity is to imagine you have a dandelion in front of you. Slowly breathe in and breathe out. Grab these mindful breathing exercise cards or read up on more mindful breathing strategies to get started.
Play “I Spy” outside. This is an outdoor games that practices mindfulness through mindful observation. Have one person find a target item. They might say, “I spy something green.” Others in the group should look around and take turns guessing what item might be the target.
Take a walk. Put the electronics away and just go for a peaceful walk. Notice what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. These sensory sensations on the walk can be calming and mindful.
Read outside. Find a nice shady spot under a tree or on a park bench. Read a good book aloud or silently for a period of time. When practicing mindfulness, it’s important to focus on feeling calm and relaxed. Don’t pay too much attention to the academic portion of reading in this case. Read and just be!
Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Choose a list of outdoor items to look for. You might seek a plant, a butterfly, something that starts with an s, and a bird singing. The options for this are endless. Put together your list before you head out or grab these printable mindful scavenger hunts. Then, take time to find the items as you walk in the yard, field, around the block, or in a local park. Can’t find everything on your list? That’s okay, too! Part of mindfulness is learning to just be and avoiding the need for perfection. That’s a lesson in mindfulness just as well.
Practice yoga. Learn some yoga poses ahead of time and practice them outside. Some of the best postures for kids include warrior pose, tree pose, and downward dog. There are lots more!
Color with sidewalk chalk. Draw fun designs or positive messages with sidewalk chalk. If you’re not sure what to write, look up some positive quotes ahead of time.
Stack rocks. Find some different sized rocks. Stack them and try to see how high your rock tower can go. This activity works on mindfulness and balance. You can talk about what balance means in our lives.
Color on a clipboard. Grab some coloring pages and a clipboard. Then, find a cozy spot underneath a tree to sit and color mindfully. You can use these free printable mindfulness coloring pages to give it a try.
Have a picnic with mindful eating. Mindful eating is the practice of thinking about the sensory experience as you eat something. That means thinking about how it feels, smells, sounds, looks, and tastes while you are eating. If the weather is warm, try mindful eating with summer foods like ice cream, watermelon, or smores.
Smell flowers. If you happen to find a garden or some flowers growing, use them for mindful breathing practice. Slowly breathe in to smell the flowers. Think about what sensations you feel as you smell them.
Paint rocks and hide them. Rock painting can be extremely calming. To get started, find some smooth rocks (or you can purchase at a craft store). Use paint to design them with positive messages or interesting designs. Let them dry. Then, when you’re ready, head out to a hiking spot or walking path and hide them somewhere for someone else to find.
Build with sand. Use a sandbox or head to the beach for this outdoor mindful activity. Build some sandcastles or just feel the sand in your hands or a mindful experience.
Gardening. Taking care of plants and weeding is a mindful activity on its own. As a bonus, gardening works on lots of other skills like empathy and responsibility, too.
Journal write. Free writing outside on a sunny day can be extremely calming. Grab a journal and encourage writing time. Encourage kids to write about their feelings, respond to a prompt, write a story, or write about anything they choose. If you’re a Pathway 2 Success member (thank you!), grab the free Mindfulness Journal in the free resource library.
If you love these mindful activities but aren’t sure exactly how to teach mindfulness, I’ve got you covered with this set of mindfulness lessons and activities.
More Mindfulness Ideas: