Squishing, rolling, pulling, creating… children of all ages enjoy playing with playDough. In addition to being fun, PlayDough has multiple developmental benefits. Our homemade dough feels and smells amazing – making it a simple and natural stress relieving mindfulness tool.
What are the benefits?
Squishing and pulling PlayDough can increase fine motor skills. It strengthens the muscles in the fingers that are needed to climb an aerial hammock or hold a pencil at school. Manipulating PlayDough helps children develop hand-eye coordination. Rolling and pressing PlayDough into cookie cutters provides deep pressure to the joints, which enhances one of our hidden senses called proprioception.
How to Make Amazing Dough.
To start, add the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl.
Stir with an electric mixer.
Combine the essential oil of choice with the vegetable oil and mix into the dry ingredients.
Bring your water to a boil. Add any food coloring to the boiling water.
While stirring with an electric mixer, slowly add the water to the dry ingredients.
Continue to mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Next, shake in a little glitter, but not too much or it won’t stick together.
Knead the dough until smooth.
Store your dough in an air-tight container.
At Mindful Child, we make mindfulness and social emotional learning fun. We’d love to have your child hang out with us in a camp or class
Nature Walk is taking a walk with your child; however, he pretends he is walking in the wilderness. While on the walk your child will notice all the wildlife on the walk. The goal is to notice as many details about the birds, insects and other animals as they can. Giving your child a magnifying glass or binoculars really allows them to see bugs and birds up close and notice details they may have missed in the past.
What are the Benefits?
Nature Walk builds visual memory and visual observation skills. It helps children focus their attention and concentrate.Wildlife walk promotes mindful awareness and mindful movement.
What to Say.
Let’s go on a wildlife walk! As we walk through the wilderness we want to remain quiet and mindful. We will walk slowly so we don’t miss anything.
Turn your senses on high and notice all the birds, bugs and wildlife that you can. Remember we are always kind to our environment. Just notice the wildlife, don’t interact with it.
Use your magnifying glass or binoculars to watch the wildlife in silence and notice what it sounds like, how it moves, and what colors you see.
Afterward we will draw what we’ve observed so really pay attention and watch all the insects, animals, and birds that you find. Reflect on the Wildlife Walk by asking, “Was it hard to focus on just one thing? Which details were easier to remember? Did you notice something that you haven’t noticed before? What helped you keep your focus?”
For older children, search for objects in nature to explore as well. Have them notice what it looks like, smells like, how it feels, and if it makes a sound. Ask them to remember as many details as possible. When you return from the walk ask your child to write down all the details they remember and reflect on the experience. Discuss ways mindful seeing connects to real life. You may ask, “How does mindful seeing help someone who has seen an accident? How does being mindful help you at school? What are jobs that require mindful seeing and memory skills?”
Spaghetti Body is a relaxation technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation . Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. In this activity, kids tense and relax muscles while pretending to be uncooked and cooked spaghetti.
What are the benefits?
Spaghetti Body teaches children how to relax their muscles when they are tight. Research shows progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and stress. Additionally, Spaghetti Body helps improve attention, mindful awareness, concentration, and self-concept.
How to practice Spaghetti Body at home:
Make you body straight and tight like a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Glue everything together and squeeze.
Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous.
Imagine that your uncooked spaghetti noodle is being placed in a pan of hot water. The noodle is wet and it begins so soften.
Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like a wet, warm, noodle. Wet noodles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet wiggly noodle.
Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
I like to squeeze a fresh lemon on cooked spaghetti noodles. If you would like lemon squeezed on your noodle raise your hand I will put a cotton ball with lemon essential oil in it.
Ta-da – you are a cooked spaghetti noodle! Scan your noodle to make sure all the tightness is gone. Let your body feel relaxed and calm. Breathe in and out through your nose slowly. Notice how you feel.