Children can experience stress just like adults. They may show signs of stress such as stomachache, headache, nausea. When children experience mindfulness with games and movement exercises, they also discover their inner world. They can even use what they have learned in the outside world. They learn to show friendly attention to what is here right now. Moreover, there is no risk of making mistakes in mindfulness games, because everything you experience is good. You don’t need to change anything.
Below, I have gathered some games that will both extend the attention span of children and support children’s exploration of their inner world. I hope you enjoy!
1- Singing Bowl:
Singing Bowl is a great tool for focus and mindful listening. As soon as they hear the Singing bowl, children will come to the Child’s Pose. Let them listen to the sound with its vibrations in Child’s Pose and then come to a sitting position when the vibrations end. You won’t believe how mindfully even the most active child can stay still in Child’s pose.
2- Focus on the Tray:
Fill a tray with simple objects: a key, a small toy car, a ball, a pencil, a seashell, etc. Cover this tray with a cloth. Lift the cover on the tray and show the children the tray by walking around. Let them memorize what they see. The aim of this game is to remember as much as possible among what they see, without arguing with each other. Children can say out loud what they see. You can then place the same objects in a different order and repeat the exercise. As children practice the exercise, they realize that they remember things better. Other objects can be added to make practice harder over time. Our minds only remember “special” things. With this exercise, children learn to remember “ordinary” things as well.
3- Look Deeply at Each Other:
What do you see when you really look with your eyes and not with your thinking mind? Let the children sit in pairs facing each other. Tell them look at each other. What do you see about hair? Do you see one color or something else? What do you see about the eyes? What do you see about the nose? What do you see about the mouth? It’s very special to be able to really see each other. Try to see if you’re really looking at each other once in a while today. Although it may seem like a very easy mindfulness activity, you will see how difficult it is for children to make eye contact with each other.
4- Butterfly Touch:
Touching each other is a necessity of life. You may feel a sense of security or danger just by being near someone else. You can feel many things with your skin. In this mindfulness practice, everyone sits in a circle with their backs to each other and massages the back, shoulders, and arms of their friend in front of them with their “butterfly” fingertips. The slight tickling and laughter during the massage make it even more fun! After the massage, every child turns back to thank the person who massages herself/himself by looking into his/her eyes.
5- “What are you good at?” Let the Puppet Talk:
Sit in a circle and put a hand puppet on your hand. Let the hand puppet tell what you are good at by making it talk. Then pass the puppet to the next kid and ask him what he’s good at. No need to argue over the answers. The important thing is to think about what you are good at and be able to say it. We often hear or say to ourselves what we are not good at.
6- Quiet Ball Game:
This game will be very beneficial especially if your class is just getting to know each other. Because the game requires looking into each other’s eyes silently and mindfully. All you need is a soft ball. Sit cross-legged in a circle. Take the ball in your hand. And silently look into the eyes of your friends in the circle. Meanwhile, everyone will be watching you carefully. And as soon as you decide on your friend that you intend to throw the ball, keep looking into their eyes for 3-4 seconds to make it clear to him/her. Then, throw the ball to him/her. Making eye contact can be more difficult for children than it seems. It is very impressive in this game to teach them this – to make them speak with their eyes and to see them focus on each other.
7- Don’t Ring the Bell:
All you need is a bell. It is a fun game, increasing kids’ concentration in a silent way and soothing their minds. Please note that the children usually want to ring the bell. You may let them ring the bell first before the game begins. Sit in a circle and take a handbell. Remember that not to ring the bell is the goal of the game. Stand up slowly and carefully. Take the bell to your friend sitting directly across from you. Walk silently and give the bell to him/her. Keep playing until everyone carries the bell at least once.
8- Mirror Yoga Game:
One person starts as the leader. The leader chooses a pose to do and shows it to the others.The other players copy the leader’s pose as if they are looking into a mirror.Change the leader with each round of poses, so that everyone has a turn at being the leader.This game is a good warm-up exercise to increase focus.
9- Body Chalkboard:
Body chalkboard is a great way to increase body awareness and sensory perception. Learning to rely on touch alone is a challenging skill and helps to focus attention and improve mindfulness. This game is also fantastic for learning cooperation and communication skills. You may even want to try it with your teens to keep them connected to their body.
10- Carry a Glass of Water:
Children sit in a circle. The teacher has a glass of water in his hand. He hands the glass to the child next to him and asks the child to carry it across the circle without spilling it. After everyone hands the glass to each other, the first stage of the game is completed. In the second stage of the game, this time everyone closes their eyes, and the same game is played with closed eyes. Playing the game with eyes closed requires more attention and it is very exciting. After everyone’s turn has passed, children can open their eyes and talk about what they have experienced. What’s the difference between giving and taking the glass with your eyes open and giving it away with your eyes closed? What signals did your body send you when your eyes were closed? It is one of my favorite mindfulness games for children. Because when you are consciously present in your body, you gain balance and confidence. When you act consciously, you realize what you can and cannot do.