Is the cold weather making it difficult for your kids to enjoy outdoor play time and connect mindfully with nature? Getting outside is a fantastic way to help children practice mindfulness by exploring nature through the use of their five senses, but when winter weather cuts outdoor time short, indoor craft time can be a great alternative for mindful fun!
Mindful crafts not only give kids the opportunity to express themselves through colors, textures, and creativity, but crafts can also help kids practice mindfulness by being present, aware and curious (of thoughts, feelings, textures, and colors!), and free from judgement of whatever thoughts or feelings arise during the creative process. Here are a few ways you can bring mindfulness into your next family craft session.
Practice Working with Intention
One of my favorite parts of mindfulness is that it helps bring awareness to my thoughts, feelings, and actions, and, in doing so, I’m able to bring intention to my words and actions. Helping kids learn the importance of acting with intentioncan be a valuable lesson that supports their lifetime journey of mindfulness rather than mindlessness. Examples of intentions are, “I will have fun with this activity,” or, “I want to feel calm,” or, “I will create something that shows how I feel inside.” (An intention can easily be set before beginning craft time by finding a comfortable seat, taking a few deep breaths, and consciously bringing an intention to mind with a smile. It can also be fun to revisit the intention during and after craft time).
The process of creation is also a means of working with intention. Crafts give kids an outlet for their creativity and enable them to express their thoughts and feelings without words. The materials and colors they work with can be chosen with intention, as can the messages they convey through the creative process. Even if they don’t consciously set an intention from the start, it’s possible to reflect on the activity afterwards and have a conversation about the meaning of the final product.
Enjoy Exploring the Five (or Six!) Senses
Craft activities also empower kids to work mindfully with their five senses. Materials like felt, playdough, and dried pasta offer a tactile experience. Smell and taste are senses that can be nurtured through family cooking adventures in the kitchen. Bright colorful paints foster visual self-expression, while musical instruments and sound bowls can be used before and during craft time for sound-based inspiration.
Mindful crafts also promote the use of our sixth sense—our intuition. The process of creation can be full of inspiration. Whether we realize it or not, it is often our intuition guiding us to choose a specific color or to draw a specific shape. While setting an intention before craft time begins, it can be useful to introduce the concept of intuition. After craft time is over, it can be fun to have a quick conversation to discuss “why” a certain material or design was chosen and feelings that came up as those decisions were being made; that “why” often indicates an internal decision-making process directed by intuition.
Process Emotions and Thoughts
A final and very important benefit of mindful craft time is the opportunity it affords children to process thoughts and emotions. Creating something new or even coloring in a mandala can be a transformative experience. The practice of creation requires a level of focus that can give children space from their thoughts, thus allowing underlying feelings and emotions to rise to the surface for healing. Their choices of colors, textures, and shapes can reveal those feelings and emotions, and the process of creation can serve as a source of therapy as they breathe and—consciously or subconsciously— work through whatever comes up.
A thoughtful conversation after craft time about the choices that were made and the feelings that arose can be an effective way to encourage a child to accept and process powerful emotional experiences.
Formal art therapy using mindfulness is called Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy; more information can be found at:
Cuncic, Arlin. (2020). “The Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy.” Verywell Mind.
Hinchey, Liza. (2018). “Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy: A Review of the Literature.” Inquiries Journal.10(5); 1.