My good friend Emma has mentioned to me that it can get hard to find ways to entertain her kids or get their energy out on days when they can’t go outside. Whether at home or in the classroom, these long days can drive any kid-and adult- stir crazy! While many people think that mindfulness is all about being still, calm, and quiet, there are a lot of fun ways to get kids moving while practicing mindfulness.
A color search is a great way to bring kids’ awareness to their environment with a game! Think of it as a twist on freeze dance. As music plays, kids move around the room (dance, skip, etc.). When the music stops, the “caller” says a color and the kids have to put their hand on something in the room that matches that color. If you want to make it a competition, an item can only be touched by one child and if someone can’t find something in that color, they are “out.” Kids can also take turns being caller.
Jenga is itself a mindfulness exercise - you need to focus in order to get those pieces out! To create Mindful Jenga, write actions on about half of the pieces. It could be something active like Do 5 Jumping Jacks or Spin Around 3 Times, or it could be a mindfulness moment, like Take 5 Deep Breaths or Notice 3 Things You Can Hear. When a piece with a directive is taken out, the person who pulled it must follow that direction. -- This can also be done with other games. For instance, with Candyland, each color could be a different action.
Shake it Off
Starting with one index finger, wiggle it back and forth, trying to isolate it fully. Then wiggle both index fingers. Move to waving one hand, then both. Move to moving your arm at the elbow, then the shoulder. This can continue until all body parts are moving, including head, arms, legs, torso (this often gets a laugh out of the kids). Then work your way backwards to just that one index finger.
Animal Dance Party
Another version of Freeze Dance! This time, as the music plays, have the kids move around the room acting out a particular animal. You can comment on the different ways the kids are embodying/interpreting the animals as they move. When the music stops, the animals freeze! As the music starts again, call out a new animal for the kids to imitate.