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As adults, we often find ourselves taking on too much.
We work too much. We say yes to things we don’t always have time for.
We overthink things.
Unfortunately, children are not always spared from these things either. They can feel overwhelmed… just like the grownups in their lives do from time to time.
But there is hope and good news! Mindfulness activities have been proven to help relieve and keep the mind healthier.
Mindfulness activities for the classroom help reduce the stress that comes with academic work, while simultaneously enabling kids with the tools to strengthen their cognitive abilities.
How Can I Teach Mindfulness?
You can integrate mindfulness activities like imagery, sensory activities and breathing.
Guided imagery helps kids focus better, while sensory activities will help them to relax. Breathing is also a mindfulness activity that will help kids quiet their minds and focus on the project at hand.
When you notice that your students' minds are wandering, what do you do?
It is easy to think that there's not much you can do about it… but a single mindfulness activity can help them focus once again. Often within minutes.
The main goal of mindfulness is to help the mind focus on the current moment, while eliminating stressful factors.
When a child suddenly develops negative behavior, like bullying other students, it is up to the parent or teacher to immediately address the problem. But what if the child doesn’t see that they have a problem?
Rather than confront them with threats of punishment, a better way to minimize such behavior is by introducing some mindful activities in their routine.
The main goal here is not to discourage the child from expressing these uncomfortable and intense feelings. Their feelings and emotions are inherent, and you can't just shut them down.
Mindfulness teaches the child to accept their feelings.
As a result, the child can deal with their emotions and also develop and cultivate positivity.
As mentioned, kids can easily express negative behaviors caused by their anxiety and stress. Fortunately, you can also integrate mindfulness activities in the home situation.
For example, you can work out mindful activities like taking nature walks with your child, talking about gratitude with them, conducting a breathing exercise, among other activities.
19 Mindfulness Activities for Kids in a Classroom Setting
These activities are perfect, especially when the kids feel overwhelmed, need to focus, or are stressed.
When coming up with mindfulness activities for kids, consider the following activities based on level:
Mindfulness Activities for Elementary Kids
The following activities are appropriate for elementary school kids:
1. Stillness Challenge
How do you get a classroom full of energetic and excited little kids? It's easy to think that it is impossible, but the truth is that it is possible.
You can start with a stillness challenge for the elementary kids. Be sure that getting the whole classroom to sit in a lotus position calmly is not easy but start small.
You can decide to turn off the lights and play some calming sounds. Also, having them sit down for 30 minutes of blissful stillness can be frustrating so try to set a time for every two to three minutes. You can do this repeatedly until the kids are perfectly still.
If special needs kids cannot sit still, you could have them tap on a surface – the table or their knees. They could also raise and lower their legs while they count.
2. Mindfulness in Eating
Yes, this works too! First, choose the edible- a piece of candy or raising can work perfectly. Next, have the kids sit down and give them some candy.
The idea here is to have the kids close their eyes and calmly sit down while holding the piece of candy in their mouths.
For two to three minutes, have the kids focus on the sensory experience of the candy in their mouth- the taste and feel of the candy. If their thoughts happen to drill away, they should easily bring them back to the “candy moment.” This activity enhances the capacity for stillness and focus.
3. Mindful Sensory Challenge
This activity is a simple and fast one. It can also be practiced anywhere, but the location should be free of any loud noises.
First, have the children sit still and together take a few deep breaths with them. After the deep breaths, first, have them concentrate on what they hear – including the slightest sounds – for 30 seconds.
Secondly, have the children concentrate on what they can smell for 30 seconds. For another 30 seconds, have them focus on what they can feel. Lastly, have them open their eyes and, for 30 seconds, have them intensely focus on what they can see.
4. Sounds Challenge
The sound challenge is both fun and relaxing mindfulness activity for kids. Have the kids sit silently and calmly in the classroom.
Using a Tibetan sounding bowl, a bell, or a tuning fork, have the children listen as you make sounds with the item. The sounds you make should be fading sounds.
The kids should listen carefully and only listen to the sounds you are making with the tool of your choice. Make fading sounds with the device and have kids bow their heads if they can no longer hear the sound.
Repeat this for some minutes until you are sure that the children are now calm, still, and focused; it should take 5 to 10 minutes.
Mindfulness Activities for Middle School Kids
Consider the following activities for middle schoolers:
5. Write Down on a Journal
Keeping a journal is also a mindfulness activity that teenagers can take part in. Writing down in a journal helps the kids reduce stress and may also help reduce depression.
According to the American Psychological Association, 5.8 out of 10 teenagers are most stressed throughout the school. Therefore introducing activities like keeping a journal in a classroom setup is crucial to keep these numbers down.
Encourage the students to buy something fancy that they will be happy using. Also, advise them to write what they feel without caring about editing.
You can do this at regular times of the week before starting a lesson. You can also set aside some time for journal writing for your students.
6. Mindfulness in Dancing
This is a good activity in both the classroom setup or at home.
Dancing is not only fun for middle schoolers, but it also helps them develop and cultivate positivity while dancing. You can have them dance for as long as you have time, but the idea is to dance through a single song.
However, mindfulness dancing is not just dancing; it also involves focusing on the rhythm as you close your eyes. It also involves feeling your body's movements and how the body naturally adapts to the rhythm. So you can guide them through what you want them to do before you put up some music for them to dance to.
7. Mindful Cooking
Cooking has been a source of therapy for many people dealing with stress and trying to cope with depression. Have the teenager choose a recipe that they would enjoy preparing and cooking.
Guide the teen while they cook, let them take in the aromas of the food, the process of making the food, and how the food changes as they cook.
Remind them to appreciate the food as they prepare it, and be sure to let them admire the food after it is ready.
8. Mindfulness in Walking
Surprisingly, everyday activity such as walking can become a form of therapy too. Find a peaceful and quiet location where you can have your middle school students have a brisk walk.
The outdoors is a perfect place for students at this age. Have them put away any music so they can only concentrate on their surroundings.
9. Mindfulness Breathing
Mindfulness in breathing is one of the most chosen activities for managing stress and relaxing. It is an excellent activity for a middle school student who is anxious and stressed out.
The exercise helps them relax, learn how to control their feelings. Practice can practice this activity whether in a classroom setting or a home setting.
Find a calm, quiet place for your teen students. Then, have the students lie down on the floor, placing both of their hands down or one hand on their tummies to feel the breathing. Have them count ‘one' as they take a deep breath.
Next, have them breathe out through the mouth. Repeat this for 3-5 minutes while you guide them to concentrate on the air in their bodies.
Mindfulness Activities for High School Students
Consider the following activities for high schoolers:
10. Body Scan
This activity is very easy for high school students. First, have them lie on a flat ground where they are comfortable. This activity can also be done in a classroom setting where the students can lie down on mats, or you can consider practicing the activity in the field.
Have the students relax all their muscles and guide them through focusing on how their body feels after they relax their muscles. This body scan mindfulness activity helps the students relax and lower any anxiety feelings that they may have.
11. Safari Activities
There is so much beauty that we can watch and experience outside. Set a date for the mini safari with your students. A safari may only take 10-30 minutes, depending on the area you will cover with the students.
Ask the students to remain quiet, help them to calm down by incorporating another mindfulness activity like breathing. Move slowly and have your students concentrate on what they see around them.
When you find something interesting, pick it up and examine the item as you ask them questions concerning the item. For example, if they see a moving creature, you can ask them to quietly observe the creature as it moves and notice how it moves.
12. Tech Break
Constant tech exposure is one primary reason for stress in kids, teens, and adults. One way to solve the stress and anxiety coming from constant and excessive-tech exposure is taking a break from tech.
If you have high school students in your home, you will notice that they love to spend their time on their phones or computer screens.
This mindfulness tech break is perfect for a home setup. Have the high schoolers take a break from their phone screams or computer screens.
You can have them engage in another activity or have them relax for 30 minutes to one hour. After the break, ask them how they feel after the break. Ask them if they feel relaxed and if they feel in control.
13. Music Appreciation
Mindful music appreciation is a fun activity for your high school students. Play some soft and calm music for the students to listen to.
Have the students be relaxed and focus on the music playing. Ask them how many instructions they can hear and possibly name them. This activity is calming, but it may also help the students manage possible depression and stress management.
14. SMART Checklists
Checklists not only help you stay organized but also enhance motivation. Think of SMART checklists as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound checklists.
Have your students come up with small checklists of what they need to do and check every task they accomplish. A Smart checklist will help enhance your student's motivation and also help them feel organized.
To learn more about SMART goal setting, take a few minutes to watch the video below for a quick overview of SMART goals and then three examples for each of the seven areas of your life.
Mindfulness Activities for College Students
Consider the following mindfulness activities for college students:
15. Mindful Creativity
For this activity, let the college students choose the creativity they would love. Creativity allows people to present at the moment and be mindful.
In the end, the accomplishments we get can enhance a positive attitude. The goal for this activity is to be present at the moment. Therefore, no phones, music, or any other kind of distraction.
For a more holistic experience, ask the students to journal down everything on how they felt about the activity, the challenges, the sensations, and what they loved.
16. Gratitude List
It's not a secret; as humans, we love dwelling on the negatives in our lives. Unfortunately, this harbors a lot of negative thoughts that may result in stress and even depression.
The perfect way to deal with this is by practicing gratitude. For college students, you can have them write a list of things they are grateful for.
This activity is beneficial in times of hardships; it helps one forget about the negative and stressful occasions they may be experiencing.
17. Mindful Chime Game
Ring a chime or bell for your students and have them observe it until they can't hear it anymore. Have the students raise their hands as soon as they can't hear the sound anymore.
At this point, you might notice that people have different hearing abilities. Staying still and focusing on the sound of the chime or bell helps calm and relax the student, thus getting rid of any anxiety they may have.
If you do not have any chime or bell, you can play another sound or look up online for sounds from YouTube.
18. Mindful Candle Study
Find candles for your students or ask them to come with their favorite candles for a candle study mindfulness activity.
On the specified day, have them sit calmly and ask them to light their candles. Then, ask them to focus on the swaying and the flickering of the candlelight.
Do this together for about five to ten minutes. Then, ask them to let their thoughts wander off while they watch the candle wave and flicker. Candle study is an activity that will help your students be calm and relaxed. You can do this with the students for a few days.
19. Mindful Intention Setting
Before you begin a class with your students, allow a few minutes at the beginning of the lesson and have the students jot down a list of their intentions during the session.
However, this does not only mean that they have to write their intentions; you can also ask them to meditate on their intentions instead of writing them.
Final Thoughts on Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom
There are many mindfulness activities for the classroom setting. We’ve covered just some of them here.
Some are very simple, while some may need dedicated and structured routines. However, the main goal of these activities is the same… to help the students be present in the moment and assist them in relaxing, focusing, and relieving stress.
Fortunately, mindfulness is not limited to kids alone. Adults can also participate in these mindful activities and help them live in the moment.
Since every child is different, and you know your kids best, you might want to consider more fun mindfulness activities for kids in a classroom setting.
For more information and ideas on mindfulness activities, check out these articles:
- 17 Printable Mindfulness Coloring Pages to Help You Be More Present
- 17 Mindfulness Activities and Exercises for Teens
- 13 Mindfulness Group Activities & Exercises
Finally, if you want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment.