Observing our surroundings through one or more of our senses helps focus our attention on the present, calming our minds and anchoring our bodies.
A Mindful Activity Jar gives kids a go-to when they’re looking for something fun to do. Decorating the jar and determining what activities go inside challenges them to think about the kinds of projects, hobbies and games they truly enjoy.
In the beginning of any new year, we hear a lot about resolutions and goal setting. But what is the purpose of these resolutions and promises we make to ourselves? That’s where intention setting comes in.
“I’m feeling flappy,” my five-year-old says, looking up at me. Flappy is our word for feeling restless, or out of sorts, or just not quite right. Whenever that happens, we start by talking about why, but what works better, every time, is hugging him hard, or, failing that, dance parties.
When we notice our breath, we can begin to slow our heart rate and anchor ourselves in the present moment. Using a Rainbow Breathing Wand is a wonderfully visual way to help us notice and regulate our breathing. Here are instructions for making your own Rainbow Breathing Wand plus a guided practice with Mindful Littles Founder Tanuka Gordon.
Using a lightly weighted eye pillow is a wonderful way to release anxiety by stimulating the vagus nerve and slowing the heart rate. Here’s how to make your own eye pillow, either for yourself or as part of a Peace Kit for someone else, plus a simple sleep meditation to help you relax and rest.
While free play outdoors is always a good option for kids, making outdoor time mindful offers additional benefits, like easing anxiety and boosting feelings of calm. This simple Clothing Cut Out project is an engaging activity to do with kids that combines art and the outdoors while helping them tap into mindfulness through their sense of sight.
With a quarantine in progress across many parts of the world, now is a perfect opportunity to encourage kids to be of service at home (they might disagree, but stay with me here).
How To Do It
This activity directs us to use our sense of sight to uncover what might not be readily seen. Step outside — or if the weather’s not exactly cooperating, you can try this indoors. Taking a picture of each find is a great way to tally up how many hearts you see.
Encourage your little one to look high and low, behind and under different objects: does the bark on that tree grow in a cool pattern? What’s under that pile of leaves?
If snow currently blankets your world, it might be more challenging to find heart shapes. Instead, create treasures for each other to find. Gather sticks of different lengths and lay them out in a heart or use one to draw a heart in the snow. Paint flat rocks with colorful hearts to leave around the neighborhood for others to find or if it’s a clear day, search out heart-shaped cloud formations.
The Power of Observation
When kids turn on their powers of observation, they often come up with delightful insights and share a perspective we might miss. On a recent treasure hunt with my 7-year-old daughter she showed me how simply changing your perspective reveals the unexpected.
A dormant vine clinging to the side of our house didn’t seem like much at first, but when my daughter noticed the way a thin branch curved and looped, she adjusted her point of view until it blended with the rest of the leafless plant to look like a heart (see the photo above for a sample of our finds and a hand-made creation).
Now, when we step outside, we see “found hearts” all around us and point out new ones when we walk the dog or play in the park. Noticing new hearts as the seasons change is especially exciting and motivating. Enjoy your heart-shaped hunt!
The Science Behind the Smiles
Besides enjoying the benefits of fresh air, being outdoors together is a great time to be in the moment with your child and notice the ways nature helps us use our senses to connect with the environment.