Whether you’re teaching summer school this year or have some kids of your own at home, keeping children entertained and engaged during the summer months can be a big task.
At Calm Classroom, we’re here to remind you that mindfulness is a lifelong practice that both you and your students or children can practice at any moment. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be fun, and easily incorporated into kids’ summer vacations.
Here are some of the best mindful summer activities that you can use with kids of all ages.
Nature mindfulness with the five senses
Summer is a great time to spend time outside in nature. If the temperature is cool enough to be safe to do so, take kids outside to practice mindfulness using their five senses.
First, find a place to sit down where you can be in contact with nature – for example, on the grass in a park or on the sand. If you don’t have access to a place like this, don’t worry; any place where you can see, hear, and smell things from the outside world will do.
Invite children to take a few mindful breaths in and out to get settled. Now, start going through the five senses mindfully. First, what can they see around them? What colors do they see? Another way to practice this is to send children on a scavenger hunt – they should bring back items (from the natural world) of different colors.
Next, move onto sounds. Invite children to be very quiet and listen carefully and mindfully to the sounds around them. What do they hear from the natural world? Perhaps they hear the wind blowing through the trees, or the crickets chirping?
You can repeat these mindful activities with texture and smells as well. For example, maybe they feel the sun warming their skin or smell freshly cut grass. The idea is to encourage children to experience nature mindfully, taking in every detail around them.
Kids tend to have a lot of energy, especially during times like summer vacation which are associated with play. It’s important to allow kids lots of time to run around, have free play, and get their energy out. At other times, kids may seem sluggish in the summer – perhaps the heat has wiped them out.
Although not all movement needs to be slow and mindful, you can incorporate some mindful movement activities this summer to help kids manage their energy levels. Mindful movement can either be energizing or calming, depending on what kids need.
Mindful movement activities help kids to notice how the way they move affects the way they feel. These activities are grounding and are useful for reconnecting with the body. For example, kids might do some mindful stretching or yoga poses for calming, or have a mindful dance party for more energy.
For more mindful movement ideas, check out our blog.
One great way to teach kids about the power of the breath is through a summer activity that everyone loves: blowing bubbles! This activity can be especially fun for younger children, but teens can have a good time with bubbles, too.
Prepare or purchase the bubble mixture. First, invite kids to take shallow breaths in and out through the bubble wand. It’s likely that with this type of breathing, these bubbles will pop right away.
Now, guide children to take a deep belly breath in – and breathe out, very slowly, through the bubble wand. What’s the difference? Invite kids to try to breathe as deeply and slowly as possible to make the biggest bubbles.
You can extend this mindfulness activity by asking kids how they feel with each breath. Older kids may appreciate a lesson on how diaphragmatic breathing affects the nervous system.
Mindful snack time
Any meal or snack time is always a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. If children aren’t engaged in practicing mindful eating, a great way to practice is to use a special treat.
Popsicles are a great option for practicing mindful eating because they are interesting in texture and form. On top of that, kids tend to love them during summer – so you have automatic buy-in. An ice cream cone or any other food that melts are great alternatives.
Guide children to be patient and not bite into the popsicle right away. What do they notice about the texture when the popsicle is fresh out of the freezer? What about the temperature of the popsicle on their tongue or the taste of it? Now, invite children to slowly take a bite. What happens to the popsicle’s texture as it rests in their mouth? What are the different flavors they can taste?
This can be a great activity to teach children to eat mindfully. Mindful eating has been associated with many different health benefits, including higher body satisfaction and greater overall well-being.
For rainy summer afternoons, art can be a fantastic tool to help children strengthen their mindfulness skills. Coloring tends to be an inherently mindful activity, so all you need to do is to ask some insightful questions and guide the process to help children become more aware.
For example, you can guide children to choose certain colors depending on how they’re feeling. Invite them to notice how it feels to move different mediums (crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc.) across the paper. Rather than coloring to finish coloring, invite children to simply enjoy the process of coloring.
Encourage children to stay present with the process of coloring. When they start thinking about something else or getting distracted by something else happening around them, guide them to refocus their attention on the movement of their coloring utensils. Older kids may even be able to pair their breathing with their coloring.
Calm Classroom makes it easy for teachers, students, and parents to practice mindfulness – during both the school year and summer break. We believe that mindfulness is for everyone, and our program makes it as simple as possible to help children learn this powerful skill.