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  • Writer's pictureOur Playful Learning Journey

Mindful and Calming Play Ideas For Children

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Some simple ideas for play invitations that invite calming, mindful play for children.

Crystal chips in a little wooden bowl on a wooden heart labyrinth for mindful play for children
Crystal chips are perfect for mindful play for children aged 5+

Mindful and calming play invitations can be really beneficial for children. We are becoming more aware of the importance of mindfulness for both adults and children, as we live in such a busy world.


Children are very good at being in the moment and can teach us adults a lot about this. I also believe it is important to schedule moments of down time into everyday life and these mindfulness and calming activities are a few of the ways we do this. Modeling and teaching mindfulness and calming activities to children is also important to help enable them to take these skills into their life with them.


In this blog post you will find a few ideas for mindful and calming play invitations. I have set these up for my 5 year old at home as invitations to play.


Some important things to mention:

  • There are no set expectations of how to use the resources - this is up to the child.

  • There is no expectation that the resources be engaged with - if your child is not interested try offering again another day or time.

  • We re-use the same invitations multiple times - it doesn't always need to be something new.

  • Use what you have - no need to buy new things.


We have found the resources shown below to be great for calming and being in the moment. However, don't think you need any of the following resources. You can use whatever you have at home to set up an invitation. Printable labyrinth's can be downloaded from the internet and printed to use, or you can create your own by drawing one on cardboard or paper. There are so many possibilities.



* Important note: These play ideas include small parts, which are a choking hazard for young children. Small parts recommended for ages 3+. For crystals and crystal chips follow the age recommendations when you purchase them (usually 5+). All play activities were supervised by an adult.



Keep reading to see some of our play invitations for mindfulness and calming play.



Mindful and Calming Play Invitations for Children:


Heart Labyrinth and Crystal Chips

A labyrinth is a wonderful tool to use for mindfulness practice. Tracing the lines with your finger or filling with crystal chips, or rice, is a fun way to be in the present moment.


Pictured below, we paired our wooden heart labyrinth with some crystal chips to invite some mindful play for Miss 5. She enjoyed scooping and pouring the crystals. Our heart labyrinth is made by Array of Whimsy and we bought it from Behind The Trees Wooden Toys.


wooden heart labyrinth with crystal chips for children to play
A labyrinth is a great tool for practicing mindfulness

Bowl of crystal chips on top of a wooden heart labryinth as a invitation to play for children
Crystal chips are a fun loose part to play with for older children.

Here is another invitation to play (pictured below) where we used our heart labyrinth and our wooden Treasures From Jennifer hundreds board with the crystal chips. Miss 5 enjoyed sitting quietly and filling the holes with the crystal chips.


Array of Whimsy hearth labyrinth and treasure from jennifer hundreds board with crystal chips as a invitation to play mindfully for children.
An invitation to play mindfully with crystal chips.

Mindful Play in Nature

Here we went on a search around the backyard for all the different things on the treasure map. The nature map was a free download from The Little Potion Co. on their website. It was a fun way to spend some time outside in the fresh air. Miss 5 ticked the things off as we found them.


Mindful nature map for children from Little Potion Co.
This nature hunt map is a great way to get outside and focus on being in nature.

Some other great mindfulness activities to do outside:

  • Lay on a rug or blanket and look up at the sky and watch the clouds/sky with your children.

  • Bubbles - blow and chase after bubbles in the backyard

  • Watch a butterfly, or the ants crawl, any insect moving

  • Chalk drawings on the concrete outside



Mindful Play with Crystal and Affirmation Cards

Crystals and affirmation cards are another great tool to use with children. Miss 5 enjoys holding each crystal in her hand and repeating the affirmation after me. Below she matched the crystals to their affirmation card. This set pictured was from Growing Kind.


For this invitation below, we also used our Grimms large gemstones. Similar stones can be bought from craft stores. Miss 5 traced around some of the gemstones and then coloured them in using our rock crayons.


Growing kind affirmation cards and crystals as an invitation to play for children
Mindful crystal play using affirmation cards and crystals

Mindful Painting or Colouring

This is an easy idea to set up for your child. Here we used the printable bee fine motor pages (free here on the blog), with some water colour paints. Miss 5 enjoyed sitting quietly painting these shapes. She asked to get out the water colour paints.


This type of invitation could be set up with blank paper for your child to create, or with a colouring page and some crayons/pencils/textas etc.



Mindful Play with Coloured Rice

This is another fun way to play with a labyrinth. I set up our heart labyrinth with some coloured rice and scoops for Miss 5 to play.


We used:

  • A heart scoop - from Behind The Trees Wooden toys

  • A moon scoop - from Behind The Trees Wooden toys

  • Brush - Explore Nook from Little Toy Tribe (It came in a fine motor tool set).

  • Crystal chips (for ages 5+)

  • Coloured rice - made at home using paint to colour the rice


Miss 5 enjoyed scooping the rice, using it to fill in the heart labyrinth. She then turned the heart over and made a heart shape by sprinkling the rice around it. Finally she added some crystal chips on top.


Array of whimsy heart labyrinth with coloured rice and crystal chips invitation to play for children
A mindful invitation to play

Mindful play for children using a heart labryinth and coloured rice
Mindful play using coloured rice to fill the labryinth

Mindful play for children using a heart labryinth and coloured rice and crystal chips
Crystal chips being used on the labyrinth

Mindful Play with Loose Parts on the Light Panel

Loose parts are fantastic for creating and using in a range of ways.


Below we used:

  • Glass gemstones (from Bunnings)

  • Plastic pebbles - from local discount store

  • Sequins

  • Explore Nook brush from Little Toy Tribe

  • A3 Light panel from Educating Kids (we got ours on sale)


Loose parts play for kids using the light panel and glass gemstones and sequins.
Loose parts on the light panel are a great mindfulness activity

Miss 5 sat and played with this for a long time, enjoying sweeping the sequins on the light panel. She then ended up making a flower using the loose parts. Loose parts such as these aren’t too expensive to buy, but are great for mindful play.



Calming Lavender Rice Tray

This is a simple yet very calming purple themed play tray. For this sensory tray we used:

  • Rice dyed purple and scented with lavender oil

  • Wooden bowls from Kmart

  • Purple Grapat nest bowls

  • Purple wooden eggs from Freckled Frog

  • Wooden scoops from Behind The Trees Wooden Toys

  • Purple pom poms

  • Purple Grapat Palo

  • Rudie Nudie play mat


Sensory play tray for children using purple lavendar rice, wooden bowls and scoops for play.
A purple themed calming lavendar rice play tray

Calming Sensory play tray for kids using lavender rice
AFTER: Lots of fun was had scooping and pouring

This tray was used for scooping and pouring the rice. The lavender scent made it extra calming to play with.


Playing on the mat, meant we could just gather up the mat and put the rice back into the tray at the end. Simple clean up (a blanket or old sheet would work well too).


 

Thank you for reading about a few ways that we like to set up play invitations to encourage calming and mindful play. I hope you found some inspiration to use with your own children or the ones you work with. If you have other calming and mindful play ideas, please share below in the comments.



Until next time, have fun learning in a playful way xx

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