Implement mindfulness techniques to help create engaging an engaging morning with the kiddos in your life. Help them stay in the present, connect with nature and have fun through open-ended play.
Large Vase/Clear Container (For younger kids you can use plastic)
Inner Jar/Container (Great way to up-cycle an old jam jar)
Decorative Filler: Rocks, stones, faux eggs, and/or any other filler that makes you feel excited for Spring!
Stabilizing Filler: Moss, artificial greenery, tissue paper
Artificial or real flowers/greenery
Set Up: Engage the Senses
Have your kiddos help with the set up. Youngest ones can help gather materials and be your little apprentice. Older kids can help design your activity, create themes and take over the set up. The goal is not necessarily the finished product, but the journey you went on together to create something a little magical.
I always like to add whimsy wherever possible, so for this project I decided on the theme of Enchanted Spring, hoping that it would enchant the weather to warm up a little so we could start to thaw out from Winter!
Winter is known for it's quiet, but Spring is when we start to hear the birds' songs again. So to help recreate the auditory environment of Spring on a snowy later winter's day, I put on one of my personal favourite Spotify playlists: The Lofi Garden. With sparkling beats and nature sounds we're ready to start gathering our materials.
Set up your materials in a way that it is exciting to look at and practical to use. Start by laying down a mess barrier (old marked craft paper, drop-cloth, old sheet, whatever is handy for you!) Gather baskets, trays and containers and set out your materials.
For extra flair you can use youtube to put on a peaceful Spring nature background or put on Netflix's Moving Art show, Episode: Flowers. The goal is to have something instrumental (no narration) and real nature footage. You can also play with lighting with things like tissue paper filters to colour changing light bulbs.
When gathering materials ask children to look for items focusing on how they feel in their hands. This helps little ones connect more with the present moment. Find rocks that are hard and heavy, moss that's soft and squishy. Make it into a sensory scavenger hunt.
There are so many ways to implement smell into an experience. Depending on your preferences you can utilize candles, incense, oils, fresh flowers or my personal favourite the smell of a hot beverage! For this activity I like to make calming chamomile tea with a splash of milk for the little ones, and Jasmine tea with honey for myself. Both teas fill the air with a light floral scent.
With kids I feel like we are always filling in the spaces between snack, meal and nap times. So after all that time gathering materials, this is the perfect time to take a mid morning snack break. I recommend snacks before activities because it helps kids be a little more alert and calmer when they have a little something in their belly. My snack of choice for mid-mornings usually consists of fruit and a light complex carb snack (ex. Rye Crackers). This helps kids feel full, but still ready to eat by lunch.
Mindful Guided Activity (Ages 5+)
Now that you are all set up, everyone is fed and happy it's time to start creating!
I know what you are thinking, did I really just spread this activity out across the whole morning? Yes, you really have. Now even if your kid decides they are bored of this activity in 5 minutes or speed through it you've already engaged them for at least 20 minutes and you've mindfully prepped and ate snack as well after that! Now let's see how we can stay present during our activity.
Open Ended Play
I try to make sure all the activities I design provide loose structure so kids can use their own imagination to come up with innovative new ways to play and create. For this activity here are the Main objectives:
Create a centrepiece that makes you think of Spring
Fill up the outer container/vase with natural materials
Leave the inner container empty for flowers, greenery or spring wands
That's it, now let them create their artistic masterpiece and if they are younger set them next to you with their own toys or safe greenery and make your own masterpiece. Encourage yourself and children to take the materials out and start over if something doesn't feel right to you. There is no right or wrong way to do the activity. As long as you try to remain present, then you did it!
Once kids start to lose interest, start cleaning up. Have kids get involved, this teaching them independence and instills a greater sense of worth to the space around them. For the same reasons we thought about how we set up the activity, we also use the same methods for cleaning up our mess. Toddlers love cleaning, because they've seen the bigger humans doing it their whole life, and its an accomplishment to be able to do tasks like the adult they look up to! For older kids it helps to create a sense value and ownership of their environment.
After clean up I like to implement story time with younger tots that grows to free reading time for older kiddos, followed by open play until lunch time.
So there you have it a whole morning routine implementing mindfulness, nature and a smidge of whimsy!
Let me know your favourite ways you utilize mindfulness in your home in the comments below!