Pretend play, fort building kits and more mindfulness activities for kids to learn and enjoy this Holiday season
Holiday season is here! Can you imagine how fast 2020 is about to end?
The celebration could be different this year due to pandemic, still we are up for a busy days to come.
We think of the meals we need to prepare, the holiday decorations to put up and activities we need to set up for our kids to keep them busy while and well-behaved during dinner with family and friends.
It makes us frantic at times.
In addition to the above to-do list, we have more questions in our head: How do we top last year’s awesome celebration? Or if it’s your child’s first Thanksgiving (or Christmas or Hanukkah), how do you make it extra special?
Whoa, settle down mamas! Why don’t we take this time to slow down, remind ourselves what’s Holiday season is all about.
Then we could teach teach our kids as well to focus on the values that these special occasions uphold?
Key Takeaway: Holiday season is more than the meals we need to cook and decorations we need to display.
What’s important for the holidays?
As parents we want to preserve our children’s sense of wonder and create magical moments for them.
We want to make precious holiday memories that they will remember.
There’s nothing wrong with “going big” on special occasions, we can get caught up with the material things and all the preparations, that we sometimes forget the true meaning of these holidays.
This year, let us take the opportunity to teach our kids (and to remind ourselves) to slow down and focus on the things that really matter: being with our families and loved ones, being thankful for all the bounty we received and sharing our blessings to the people in our community.
Science-backed benefits of practicing gratitude with kids
The holiday season cannot be complete without being thankful for all the good things that happened to us throughout the year.
It’s also the perfect time to teach our children about gratitude.
As parents, we want our kids to become grateful people.
This gratitude attitude can be learned more by introducing mindfulness activities for kids.
But did you know that teaching them to practice gratitude also contributes to their brain development and overall wellness?
Below are some scientifically proven benefits of practicing gratitude.
- It releases dopamine – Dopamine is an important chemical in the brain that enhances our mood and makes us happy from the inside. Practicing gratitude strengthens our neural pathways and production of dopamine, which leads to having a more positive outlook in life.
- It reduces stress – When we are under stress, our body releases cortisol for our brains to be able to cope. The more we’re stressed, the more our body produces it. An increased amount of cortisol can also cause anxiety or depression. Research shows that cortisol levels in our bodies can be lessen by 23 percent. because of practicing gratitude.
- Better sleep – Having adequate rest is essential for a child’s mental and physical well-being. Recent studies concluded that people who practice the habit of being grateful lead to having positive thoughts at bedtime. Makes it easier for them to go to sleep and have a better quality of sleep. A good sleep contributes to a better brain development of your child.
Scientists suggested that practicing gratitude changes the brain’s neural structures, making people feel happier and more content, which is something we want for our children.
Key Takeaway: Grateful kids are happier, calmer and sleeps better.
Gratitude and mindfulness go hand in hand
Mindfulness is simply the habit of being aware of our surroundings.
Research shows that mindfulness activities for kids allow them to focus and be more in control of their emotions.
While gratitude helps the brain to reduce stress and enhance positive emotions, mindfulness helps us to be more present in the moment.
Positive emotions has a lasting benefit in the brain development of your child.
Mindfulness amplifies the positive feelings brought about by gratitude. Together, these two habits lead to a more content and happier self.
Mindfulness activities for kids that focus on gratitude
Whether it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, let’s take advantage of this family time by engaging in holiday activities that will help our child be more present and aware of the things he can be thankful for.
Family traditions you can start
- Gratitude jar – This comes in different forms and versions, but the goal of the activity is for the family to list some of the things that they are thankful for and someone will collect them and put them in a jar. If your child can’t write yet, you can write it for him but let him be the one to put his contribution in the jar. Turn it into a mindfulness activity for your kid by allowing him to take some time to think about the things that he’s thankful for.
- Cozy up – using one of our large play silks, cuddle up with your child and just enjoy a quiet time outdoors appreciating nature and the chilly weather together.
- Let your child help you prepare food baskets or emergency kits that you can drop off at a homeless shelter or the community center.
Mindfulness activities for kids through sensory play:
- Scavenger hunt – Write down some things that your family is thankful for this year on tiny pieces of paper and hide them under colored rice in the sensory bin. Let your child find the pieces of paper and read to him what you wrote. You can add random holiday themed items to add to the appeal.
- Deep breathing turkey (for Thanksgiving) – Use a picture of a turkey. Let your child’s hand trace the feathers of the turkey. Trace up and breathe in, trace down and breathe out. For each feather, let your child think of one thing or person that he is thankful for. You can also do this to other holidays. Replace the turkey with different symbolisms (Christmas tree or a Menorah candle).
Pretend play ideas:
- Fort building kits – Create a beautiful fort in the living room for pretend camping. Gather the family around the pretend fire and share what you are thankful for this year.
- Holiday feast – This is a great way to model a positive attitude towards food and table manners to your child. In preparing a meal for the whole family, ask your child to pretend play with his/her kitchen toys. He can also pretend to set the table for dinner.
- Safe space – While everybody is busy with the preparations, set up a nice fort for your child where he can take a breather and slow down from all the holiday festivities. Use fort building kits as calm corner or reading nook.
Most of our holiday plans this year changed, but the reason to celebrate holidays did not.
Holidays is a celebration of being grateful for everything that we have.
This season is a perfect time to teach mindfulness activities for kids to help them remember holidays as a magical experience.
The family and friends that we have, our good health and of our loved ones and the blessings we receive.
We have lot to be thankful for, and it is just right to share it to others.
Mindfulness activities for kids can be more effective if learnt through imitation.
Show our kids how to have a meaningful holiday experience through gratitude and mindfulness.