I’ve been really enjoying outdoor mindfulness activities in the garden with my children during the coronavirus lockdown. I thought I’d share some of what we’ve been up to –
Mindful bubble blowing
- You could either make your own bubble mix together as a sensory play and learning experience or use ready made mix. Notice the scent.
- Try blowing bubbles with a range of equipment like an ordinary small bubble wand, a large wand your child can wave around or even a hula hoop. If you tip a large amount of mix into a big long and flat container like a sledge that works well.
- Experiment with bubble making with your child and observe different bubble shapes, sizes and colours. Notice how blowing your breath fast, slow, hard and soft has different impacts on the bubbles.
- Count how many bubbles you make each turn.
- Notice what the bubbles pop on – your child’s hand, your baby’s foot, the grass, a fence?
- Notice how high bubbles go before they pop
- Notice the colour change before bubbles pop
Mindful plant watering
If you have plants, encourage your child to help water them. Let them try using a small watering can and – if you’re feeling brave – a hose. Can they notice differences in how the water flows? Do they notice the sound of fast running water from the hose and the drip drip sound of water drops from the can? Can they move the hose in a semi circle shape over grass to make a rainbow and notice all the colours? Can they notice the difference in colour between dry and wet soil? If they water plant pots, can they manage to spread the water all round the pot, or do they only notice the part of the plant near to them?
Mindful plant watch
We have a daily mindful tour of our garden and aim to notice changes – there are always some to spot. For example, new buds on roses, buds opening up into flowers, plants moving from a few flowers to full bloom. Dew on the grass in the early morning, whether or not birds have eaten the food we put out in the bird feeder, and if they have, what they have taken. We also grow fruit and vegetables and notice the first potato shoots popping up, the first flowers on our strawberry plants and the early signs of beetroot growing. When we do this, I always encourage my daughter to take the lead and tell me what she sees in her own words. Sometimes though it becomes a learning opportunity when she has questions and wants to know what a new plant is called, or what a part of a plant is for. I’m flexible with this, as quiet, meditative mindfulness of this exercise may be more helpful for an adult, but my daughter talks in a constant stream on consciousness and is used to thinking aloud at home, so allowing some talking is more practical.
Mindful bug hotel
If you don’t already have one, the first step is to collect objects from your garden or local wood or park to make one – anything goes. You could make it a mindful process by tuning in to what your child is drawn to and encouraging them to notice sights, sounds, scents, sensations of what they can touch and anything they can taste while collecting – in a wood, maybe the smell of wild garlic, in a park, the sound of dogs barking or in a garden the sound of birds in trees. Objects they might like to include are pine cones, acorns, leaves, branches, twigs, moss and pebbles (and really anything else they fancy).
Then, you can make a bug hotel using whatever you have in your recycling bin – ours is a cardboard box with various toilet roll holders stuffed with acorns, moss and pinecones, with various branches and twigs at different angles for bugs to crawl in and out and some pebbles for them to hide under (my daughter is a fan of collecting stones).
Once you’ve made it, it can become a daily mindfulness exercise to watch through binoculars to see what bugs are crawling around in there – we’ve got caterpillars, ladybirds and snails at the moment and my daughter is enjoying the increased number of butterflies we have fluttering around since we started the hotel. She’s also much more tolerant of insects generally through understanding them better in a calm way.
Mindful feather blowing
- Collect feathers and petals
- Notice the different sizes, shapes, colours and textures. The feathers we found were furry on the inside and sleek on the outside. I reflected out loud to my daughter that people could be a bit the same – I noticed she paused thoughtfully in turn. She then had various “why” questions about birds “Why do birds need feathers?” “Did the furry feathers come from a baby bird?”
- I then showed her how to blow the feathers and petals up in the air with deep breaths, and encouraged her to practice. She particularly enjoyed that part.
- We then collected them all up to use for a craft project the next day.
#Mindfulness with kids #Mindful Gardening #Children’s Wellbeing