5 Mindfulness Activities for You and Your Kids This Winter
Winter is almost here. Whether you are celebrating any of the season’s holidays or not, the busy world outside can still be daunting. Companies inundate you and your kids with a nonstop array of advertisements and push you to buy…Buy…BUY! Schools go on break or close for snow days. Family members come to visit. Normal routines can be completely thrown out of whack.
With this in mind, I wanted to put together a fun list of activities you can do with your children this winter to keep your family grounded in the present moment and help navigate all this excitement.
1) Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
In this season of gifts and giving, it’s the perfect time to talk about Gratitude. The Gratitude Scavenger Hunt brings awareness and attention to the obvious things, the little things and even some hidden treasures around your home.
You can simply follow the list and name the items or get creative! Some kids like to take their list out on their own, fill in the blanks and talk about each item once they’ve made their way through the entire thing. Other children love taking pictures with you of each item they find to refer back to later or show other relatives.
2) Gratitude Tree
My Dad recently sent me this picture of my nephew’s “Tree of Thanks.” Grandpa proudly displays it in his kitchen.
As with the scavenger hunt, there are also quite a few ways to make a Gratitude Tree, depending on how crafty you want to get. Here’s a simple version:
Cut some brown construction paper into the shape of a tree.
Cut some different color pieces into the leaves.
Use markers or crayons to have your children write different things they are thankful for on each leaf.
Glue or tape each leaf to the tree.
You can back the tree with more construction paper, poster board or perhaps an open wall.
If you are feeling artsy, I’ve seen people use actual tree branches in a jar or vase full of pebbles and hang the cut-out leaves from them like ornaments using string or yarn.
3) Hot Cocoa Breath
This is one of my favorites!
I don’t know if it’s the fond memories of my childhood or the fact that it is one of the most calming breathwork techniques out there but it absolutely warms my heart and stills my mind every time.
It’s a great exercise for you and your kids, especially if the anxiety or energy levels are high. In fact, it’s also called “Calm Down Cocoa.”
Hold your hands in front of you like you are holding a cup of hot cocoa.
Breath in through your nose as if you are smelling the cocoa.
Slow count of 1…2…3…4
Breath out through your mouth like you are cooling the hot cocoa.
Slow count of 1…2…3…4
Repeat 3 times or until you start to feel settled.
If you’d like to bring in the senses, consider using an actual cup of hot cocoa for a special treat, savoring the aromas and feeling the warmth on your hands. We did this on Halloween at the Boys and Girls Club with apple cider. It was a hit!
4) The Snow Globe
Also known as The Glitter Jar or Mind in a Jar, this is an amazing activity for explaining how the mind works and the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
What DO YOU NEED?
A mason jar (though you could even use a water bottle)
3 colors of glitter
*Since it’s Winter, consider picking seasonal colors.
What to do:
Fill the jar to the top with water.
Explain that the jar is like a mind. Each color of glitter will represent something different that goes into the mind.
Have your kids pick one color to represent their thoughts. I like to ask the kids that I work with to give me examples of thoughts they have throughout the day so they can further understand how a thought differs from a feeling.
Next, I have them pick a color to represent their feelings. Again, what are some examples of feelings they may have? Where do they feel their feelings in the body?
Lastly, we put in the final color to represent their behaviors or immediate urges. What might be an example of a behavior?
Close the jar.
With the jar still, this is when the mind is pretty settled. We can see clearly.
At this point, I like to take the children through the day.
~Maybe they get to eat their favorite breakfast. They are happy! Shake the jar!
~Or maybe they have to share their room with a relative and they don’t want to. Oh no! Shake the jar!
*Ask them for examples of different things that happen during the day. What do they think? What do they feel? How do they act? Shake the jar for each answer!
As we see the jar swirling with glitter, this is a good time to bring it all together. We are not able to see clearly into the jar because everything - our thoughts, our feelings, and our impulses are all getting in the way.
So ask, “what can we do to see clearly again?” Or “how can we settle this mind?”
Be still. Breathe together as the glitter settles.
This is the time to discuss again that the jar is like our minds. The glitter doesn’t go anywhere. It simply stills. Our thoughts, our feelings and behaviors are still with us but now we can see clearly. We can use our breath to calm our mind. We don’t rush it. We breathe. And when our mind settles, we can choose how to act.
Some families keep these jars around their homes and use them when things start to get worked up to remind everyone to take a moment to breathe and calm down before moving forward. Especially in a time when the family might be filling the house with more kids that are sharing spaces and vying for attention, this is a wonderful interactive tool to captivate their minds and strengthen their awareness.
5) Bear Breath
Bear breath is a classic technique designed to help your kids (and YOU!) sleep. Here’s how I like to take children through the exercise:
It’s winter! What animal is known for sleeping all winter long? A bear!
Imagine a bear hibernating. (I like to imagine my childhood hero - Winnie the Pooh!) Cozy and covered in warm fur. Safe and sound inside its cave. All snuggled up for the Winter.
Take a deep breath in through your nose while I count. 1…2…3…4.
Pause for 1…2…3.
Breath out through your mouth 1…2…3…4.
Pause for 1…2…3.
Enjoy this list and try everything out! I would love to hear how any of these techniques work for you so feel free to leave a comment. And of course, have a wonderful winter!