As many of us adults have learned over the past year, mental health should never be taken lightly and should be prioritized. The same is true for our kids. With our toddler granddaughter, we’ve discovered mindfulness activities for children works well for her.
She’s two, so talking doesn’t always work on her. In addition to normal toddler meltdowns, she’s also having to adjust to having a baby sister with cancer.
That’s a heavy weight for adults, and we’ve noticed some of that weight on her as well.
Therefore, we thought that we could teach her a few mindfulness activities to help her cope on the hard days.
Whether at our house or home with mom and dad, we can all work together to help her through these activities.
Personalized Calm Down Jar
Not only is a calm down jar (or sensory bottle in this case) a great mindfulness activity, but it’s also easy to make at home.
I used my Cricut Joy™ for this craft so that my granddaughter could help along the way. It made the process much simpler and quicker with a toddler in tow.
Personalized Calm Down Jar Supplies:
- jar or bottle with lid (we opted for a plastic bottle since she is a toddler)
- clear glue (white glue works too but your mixture inside the bottle will be opaque)
- glitter (we used a unicorn shaped glitter confetti)
- Cricut Joy™ Smart Vinyl™ (we used Holographic Crystals – Permanent, Party Pink)
- Cricut Stencil Vinyl (I had this on hand, but Cricut Joy™ StrongGrip Transfer Tape work with this machine)
- hot glue gun + glue sticks
The sensory bottles are easy to assemble. The toughest part for us was just choosing a font and image that Riley liked.
I wanted an easy to read font so she could also work on learning how to spell her name, and she simply wanted a unicorn head.
Thankfully, Cricut Design Space had all we needed.
We used DTC Sweet Berry font from Cricut Access and a unicorn head from the Unicorn Squad image set.
We put everything together on my phone and then easily cut the design out on the Circut Joy. No mat needed!
After weeding the design, I used the Stencil Vinyl to keep everything in place, then Riley helped me adhere it to the bottle.
Then she took the outside part we removed the design from and stuck it on another bottle. She loved them both!
Now she has one for our house and one for hers.
Finally, fill the bottle with half hot water, then added your glitter, and, lastly the glue.
If your contents move too slow, add more water. Too fast, add more glue. Find the balance that works best for your child.
Once you’re happy with the contents and their movements, use hot glue to seal the top on and you’re done!
How to Use a Calm Down Jar for Mindfulness
Once you complete the Calm Down Jar there are a variety of ways professionals use them for helping kids calm down.
With Riley, because of her age, we used a simple script that she could understand:
The jar is like our mind and the glitter is different thoughts swirling around in it. And that’s okay!
Having emotions is normal.
When we swirl the bottle, everything inside races around; much like thoughts in our head.
Watch as the glitter settles to the bottom. Breathe in and out.
As the glitter settles, and we watch and breathe deeply, we can also begin to feel our mind settle. Just like the calm inside the bottle, our mind can be more steady and we can work through our emotions calmly.
This is another simple, but tangible, item that kids can use for mindfulness breathing.
- Cricut papers (ours had a geometric design on front and solid back so it worked great)
- LightGrip Machine Mat
- bamboo skewers
- pinwheel SVG (we used #M409ED from the 3D Pinwheel image set on Cricut Access)
Again, the steps are easy for this project as well.
Soak your bamboo skewers as you cut, weed, and prepare the pinwheels. This helps the thumbtack easier to push in, as well as helps keep the skewer from splitting.
Begin the process in Cricut Design Space with a pinwheel SVG. You can easily make a variety of designs, but Riley wanted one. So we used one and cut 4 of them.
Assembly got easier with each pinwheel as I got my system down. I put a pilot hole into each skewer before assembling the pinwheels to help guide the tack in.
For the paper pinwheel, I used the thumbtack as my pivot point. I folded in the first side and stuck the tack through it, held it in place and went to the next side, until the thumbtack was through all four sides.
Then, grabbing the skewer, I then guided the tack into the pilot hole until I could feel the tack just getting to the other side.
I applied a bit of hot glue over the back area of the skewer just to ensure the tack didn’t scratch or grab anything. (We also should have put a small bead between the pinwheel and skewer to help it move easier, but forgot! I’ll have to add one later.)
How to Use a Pinwheel for Mindfulness
This exercise allows your child to feel the effects of breathing.
Relax your body and blow on your pinwheel with a long, deep breath. How do you feel?
Next, try short, quick breaths. How do you feel? Is it different than before?
Finally, use normal breaths. How do you feel?
Which breathing made you feel calm? Remember this when you need to feel calm.
You may be seeing a pattern here. That’s because deep breathing exercises switch on a part of our nervous system that then helps us relax and refocus.
Much of mindfulness calls us to ground ourselves, calm down, and refocus.
Rainbow breathing gives your child a tangible object where they can visualize their breathing technique.
Download and print the rainbow breathing sheet or make one of your own to use for this exercise.
How to Use Rainbow Breathing for Mindfulness
- Trace the colors of the rainbow with your finger.
- As you move left to right, inhale slowly through your nose.
- As you move right to left, exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat as many times as you feel necessary.
5 Finger Breathing
This breathing exercise is similar to rainbow breathing. But, this one you can do from anywhere, as long as you have a free hand.
Download and print the 5 finger breathing sheet as needed for reference with this exercise.
- Open one hand with fingers stretched wide.
- With the pointer from your opposite hand, start at the bottom of your thumb and trace up to the top while slowly inhaling through your mouth.
- As you go down the other side, exhale through your nose.
- Continue up and over each finger breathing in and out.
Once children learn how to calm and reground themselves. They can then better rebalance their emotions and, hopefully, create a habit of mindfulness that will stick with them through adulthood.