Why Mindfulness for Preschoolers Is Important – and How to Do It

Mindfulness is a trendy buzzword these days, but that doesn’t minimize its importance and effectiveness in emotional regulation. When it comes to mindfulness for preschoolers, what do we need to know? And how do we help children so young access the power of mindfulness?

Read on for both the benefits, and the how-to, of mindfulness for preschoolers.

Benefits of Mindfulness for Preschoolers

Think of mindfulness as a tool — it’s something you can reach for when you’re overwhelmed. By directing our attention to the present, we can better manage overwhelm and anxious feelings.

When preschoolers learn mindfulness techniques, they learn to focus their attention, strengthen resilience, and even self-soothe.

Some other helpful benefits of mindfulness for preschoolers include:

  • Improved emotional regulation skills
  • Greater calm in stressful situations
  • An expanded ability to keep things in perspective
  • Self-compassion, as children learn to treat their feelings with warmth and understanding
  • Less shame
  • Better physical and mental health
  • An increase in kindness for others
  • Self-control
  • Better decision makingWe all want our children to develop these strengths, skills, and characteristics. Read on for how to teach mindfulness to preschoolers.

Model Mindfulness

As in nearly everything you want to teach your child, modeling is critical in teaching mindfulness to preschoolers. Why? You can’t teach something you don’t know. If you don’t understand mindfulness for yourself, the lessons for your child simply won’t sink in.

That’s why it’s important to develop your own capacity for mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness into your own day, and not only will you reap the benefits for yourself, you’ll know better how to teach the practices to your child.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Mindfulness is a skill, and it will take time for your preschooler to learn to be more mindful. Recognize this, and understand your child is going to need you to co-regulate with them for a while. They will also need plenty of practice with the skills.

Follow this simple three-step process:

  1. Help your child understand their feelings as they experience them. You can do this by naming your child’s feelings without judgment. “You’re feeling frustrated that your baby sister drooled on your toy, aren’t you?” “You’re feeling excited that you get to go swimming today, aren’t you?”
  2. Demonstrate mindfulness skills, without expecting your child to do them. In this stage, you’re simply modeling. Let your child see you doing breathing exercises when you’re upset, calming your body, taking time to be still, and more.
  3. Guide your child through mindfulness techniques. (See below for ideas.) Practice these techniques when your child is calm, so there is no pressure. Then, when your child is dysregulated, invite them to use a technique along with you.Don’t force any part of this process. And don’t worry if it takes a long time for your child to use the techniques when they’re upset. Just keep naming feelings, modeling mindfulness, and gently guiding when your child allows it.

    This is not an outcome-based approach. If your child doesn’t reach for their mindfulness techniques, nobody has failed. Just trust that this process will eventually give your child the tools they need to regulate their emotions.

Follow Your Child

Your child’s mood should be your barometer in how you approach mindfulness with them. Have a stash of mindfulness activities ready to go, and then choose the one that best fits the mood.

For example, you can have a calming corner where your child goes to calm down. Keep sensory activities and toys at the ready. You can also be prepared to co-regulate with a hug and soothing voice. And then, when your child needs calming, you can determine which of those techniques/tools will be most effective in the moment.

Use these techniques and tools throughout the day, even when your child isn’t upset, and it will be easier to use them in the tough moments.

18 Mindfulness Activities for Preschoolers

mindfulness for preschoolers

  1. Pause and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. (Do you feel happy? Excited? Sad? Gloomy?)
  2. Pause and notice how you’re feeling in your body. (Is your tummy full? Can you feel your heart? What does it feel like when you wiggle your toes? Take a breath and feel your belly and chest.)
  3. Pause and listen for one minute. What sounds did you hear?
  4. Think of the five senses: Name five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste.
  5. Take a bite of food, and keep it in your mouth with your eyes closed. Describe what it feels like and what it tastes like. (Is it crunchy? Sweet? Slippery? Bitter?)
  6. List things you are grateful for.
  7. Try this breathing technique: Smell the rose (breathe in), blow out the candle (breathe out)
  8. Blow bubbles. (You can imagine this, or do it with real bubbles.) See how slowly you can do it (take a big, deep breath and blow slowly on the bubbles).
  9. Pick a muscle to squeeze for five seconds, and then slowly release it.
  10. Feel each other’s heartbeats. This is great for co-regulating.
  11. Go outside and look for different textures. Pick up rocks, leaves, sticks, and more, and describe how each one feels.
  12. When creating arts or crafts, describe what you see, feel, hear, and smell. (Probably best to leave taste out of this one!)
  13. Take a mindful walk. Pay attention to the five senses as you walk, and discuss them as you go.
  14. Turn routine activities into slow-motion activities. Washing hands, eating a snack, putting the flatware away. Describe the senses you’re noticing as you go.
  15. Let your child smell the spices and ingredients as you cook.
  16. Download a guided meditation to do together.
  17. Listen to music together. Talk about the instruments you hear and the feelings the music invokes.
  18. Learn yoga poses.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we incorporate mindfulness into every day of learning. To learn more about how we teach, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930.

Playing with Your Food Is a GOOD Thing! The Benefits of Playing with Food for Preschoolers

“Don’t play with your food! It’s bad manners!”

We’ve had this concept drilled into us from the time we were small, and chances are that we’re drilling it into our children too. And while we don’t think every meal should be a handsy free-for-all, there are plenty of reasons why playing with food could be a beneficial bonus in your preschooler’s life.

Using More Senses Helps Kids Learn Better

The more senses that are involved in an activity, the more your child is going to learn — and retain. Playing with food allows your child to see, smell, feel, hear (what does it sound like when you squish a pea or snap a pretzel?), and even taste. This sensory experience helps with language development, problem solving skills, concentration, and comfort in trying new things.

Playing with Food Decreases Food Battles

We often get into battles of wills at the dinner table. “Eat three more bites, and you can have dessert/go play with your friend/watch a show.” But kids know you can’t actually force them to eat, and so it’s common for them to choose a meal as a time to exert their independence.

Playing with their food removes the battle and gives children a sense of control. It helps them develop curiosity about the food and approach it on their own terms.

Give your child more opportunities to play with new foods, and you may see less resistance during meals.

Playing with Food Helps with Food Aversions

If you have a picky eater, you know how tough it is to get them to try anything new. Letting children play with food lets them experience the food through different senses. They’ll feel the textures with their hands instead of their tongues, which is much more approachable. They may take the time to smell the food or inspect it visually.

And when playing is allowed, pressure is off. This gets your child comfortable with the food so that when it’s presented as a consumable part of a meal, they may be more willing to try it.

Kids Learn Through Play

Kids learn about their world through play. They learn cause and effect, bravery, language development, and so much more. When a child is allowed to play with a food, they’ll learn more about that food. They might ask curious questions, or become fascinated by the food’s details. Again, this will help them get more comfortable with unfamiliar foods.

Let your child guide goldfish crackers on a swim through a new soup. Use bell peppers or apples as sponges for paint. Set broccoli up as a forest for your child’s small animal toys.

But Isn’t It Wasteful to Play with Food?

“You’ll finish your dinner because there are starving children in _______ (fill in the blank).”

Many of us heard this when we were growing up, and it’s a fair point. How can we play with food, when children around the world don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis?

Katie from Preschool Inspirations offers some grounding perspective. She points out that in the United States, we are surrounded by wealth and abundance. Taking showers, driving cars, shopping in a supermarket, and more are all privileges we freely enjoy. And while we know these privileges aren’t available to everyone, we still don’t deprive ourselves of them.

This doesn’t mean we should use our resources wastefully with no regard to anybody else. But perhaps it’s a good idea to focus our efforts on making a difference, like donating generously to someone in need.

Katie also suggests that when playing with food, to use foods that are expired, food that would have been thrown away (maybe you spilled a bag of pretzels or maybe the apple is too bruised), and foods that benefit nature — like birdseed projects done outdoors.

How to Play with Food

  • Let your child cook with you. Try your best not to stress out over messes; this is part of the sensory process.
  • Choose fun ways to present food from time to time. Put chicken on kabob sticks, arrange fruit in rainbow order, cut food into different shapes, let your children build their own tacos, etc.
  • Use food as the subject of an art project. While you prepare dinner, leave an extra cucumber or broccoli stem on the counter and ask your child to draw or paint it. Tell your child to give it arms and legs, change its color, or even come up with a story about their drawing.
  • Have a fun taste test. Choose different food items you know your child likes, and take turns being blindfolded while feeding each other bites of the food. Everyone will have fun as you guess what you’re tasting.
  • Pick your favorites. Buy several types of one kind of food — apples are a good idea. Taste each variety, and vote on your favorites.
  • Before a bite, ask your child what that food will sound like when it’s chewed. Will it be crunchy, soundless, squishy? Similarly, ask your child to describe its appearance or smell.
  • Make food into a math problem. Ask your child to count their grapes on their plate. Then ask them how many will be remaining if they eat one. What about two?
  • Have your child help you make dinner more colorful. What foods can you add to your chicken dinner to make your plates more like the rainbow?
  • String cereal on yarn.
  • Use apples, bell peppers, or potatoes as painting stamps.
  • Use food as checker pieces.
  • Make faces with different food items.
  • Play with pretend food. Invent the wackiest recipes you can.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we eat healthy snacks every day and give the children opportunities to play with their food, prepare their own food, and try new foods. To learn more about UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, contact us online or give us a call at (801) 523-5930

10 Indoor Activities to Do with Your Preschooler This Winter

Snow is one of the best winter playgrounds, but when little cheeks and noses have had enough of being outside, what can you do to keep your preschooler occupied and active indoors?

Use these fun indoor activities for preschoolers this winter break — and beyond!

1. Make Paper Snowflakes

indoor activities for preschoolers

Making paper snowflakes is a time-honored activity because almost everyone loves it! And major bonus: you can’t mess up a paper snowflake.

Knowing how to use scissors is a critical pre-writing skill. Opening and closing the scissors helps your preschooler develop the small muscles in her hands, while also strengthening hand-eye coordination — both important skills for writing.

Cutting out a paper snowflake also lets your preschooler explore cause and effect — and it’s oh-so-magical once you unfold your paper to see what your snowflake looks like!

[9 Movement Activities for Preschoolers You Can Do at Home]

Depending on your child’s age and abilities, you may need to guide the folding and cutting process, but try and let her do as much as she can on her own!

2. Make a Newspaper Snowman

If there hasn’t been enough snow for a snowman, make your own snowman out of newspaper! Roll up newspaper into balls. Stack the balls and connect them with glue or tape. Attach branches for arms. “Dress” the snowman with hats, gloves, and more.

3. Indoor Obstacle Course

indoor activities for preschoolers

Kids need to move and wiggle, even when it’s too cold to go outside. Make your own obstacle course indoors this winter to keep your preschooler active. Use items you have around your house.

Here are some ideas for your indoor obstacle course:

  • A few Hula-Hoops on the ground creates the perfect setup for skipping, hopping on both feet, hopping on one foot, or jumping backwards. Only have one Hula-Hoop? Have your child jump in and out of it six times with both feet. Now on one foot… you get the idea.
  • Put a broomstick between two chairs, and have your child limbo (or crawl) under it.
  • Line up a few chairs in a row, and have your child crawl under or over them.
  • Throw a bean bag (or ball of socks) into a bucket (or kitchen pot).
  • Add a blindfold to the beanbag toss for extra fun.
  • Somersault from one spot to another.
  • Give your child a ladle or tongs, and have him fill a bowl with small toys or marbles.
  • Put a stuffed animal on your child’s head, and instruct her to walk from one point to another.

indoor activities for preschoolers

4. Indoor Ice Skating

For some slippery fun, wrap wax paper around your child’s feet and secure with rubber bands. Let him walk (er… slide) across the carpet. Move things out of the way because this is slippery and a fall may happen.

5. Paint with Noodles

indoor activities for preschoolers

Yep, you read that right! Children love to paint, and it’s even more fun and interesting when you use “paintbrushes” that aren’t actually paintbrushes! Your child will get the opportunity to predict (what will the painting look like?), explore, and be creative.

To make your spaghetti noodle paintbrush:

  1. Gather a small bunch of uncooked spaghetti noodles and tie a rubber band about 1/4 from the bottom.
  2. Cook them as normal, with a little bit of oil, leaving the tied-off part out of the water.
  3. Set your spaghetti noodle paintbrush out to cool.
  4. Once cool, get painting!

6. Read

It’s such a simple activity that we often overlook the chance to sit down and read. When the weather outside is frightful, that’s the perfect time to snuggle close and read book after book. Make it even more fun and special by getting a cozy blanket and a warm treat.

7. Make Something in the Kitchen

Sure, making cookies during the winter is a fun activity for everyone, but take a moment to think outside the mixer and see what meals or snacks your preschooler can create all on her own. This not only frees up your hands and brain, it gives your preschooler a huge sense of accomplishment — and a higher chance of trying the food she made!

Preschoolers can use plastic knives to chop fruit for their own fruit salad, top their own individual English muffin pizza, make their own sandwich, prepare their own quesadilla, and more.

8. Shaving Cream Letter Practice

Generously fill a tray with shaving cream. Have your child practice letters or “draw” pictures in the cream. (Make sure you tell your preschooler that this is not the kind of cream we eat.)

9. I Spy

Classic car games become the perfect way to pass the time indoors in the winter when you add the right prop. Glue or tape two toilet paper rolls together for a pair of binoculars. Then, use them to play I Spy. Your preschooler will love looking through their binoculars to figure out your clues.

You can also play Name Three Things. For example, tell your child to name three things in the room that are blue/tall/alive/round. He can use his binoculars to locate the three things.

10. Stack Cups

Playing with building blocks is a favorite pastime for many children. Change up the regular routine by letting your preschooler see what she can build with a few dozen paper or plastic cups. Challenge her to use all the cups for one creation, to build three towers with all the cups, to make three different creations with only six cups, and so on.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we use art, music, social studies, dance and movement, science, math, reading and writing, and imagination to fully engage our students and help them develop both the left and right hemispheres of their brains. Come see us in action. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to set up a tour.

4 Dr. Seuss Life Lessons We’re Glad We Have

 

March 2 is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) birthday. When we sat down to list all the many important lessons Dr. Seuss taught us through his books, we couldn’t stop! Through a creative writing style that nobody seems able to duplicate, Dr. Seuss’s books teach sophisticated life lessons in a way that just sticks — without us always even realizing it!

If you sat down with even just a handful of Dr. Seuss’s 60 books and looked for lessons, you’d end up with a list a mile long. (You could even read that mile-long list in a box with a fox if you like.)

We’re not sure a complete list could ever be compiled, but here are four of our favorite Dr. Seuss life lessons at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — Reading Is Important

Dr. Seuss life lessons

Over and over, readers get the message from Dr. Seuss that reading is important. Often, he stated that message outright:

The more that you read, the more things that you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I can read in red. I can read in blue.
I can read in pickle color too.”

-from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

 

But even when reading wasn’t the dedicated subject of Dr. Seuss’s books, nobody can deny how enjoyable it is to read the fun cadence of Dr. Seuss’s imaginative rhymes. His rhymes are so fun, in fact, that we use them to teach rhyme to our 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds at preschool. Children easily pick up on predicting the next rhyming sound when they are read to from Dr. Seuss books.

And did you know?: In 1954,  a Life magazine article criticized children’s reading levels, so Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked Dr. Seuss to write a children’s primer using 220 vocabulary words. The Cat in the Hat was the result, proving that children’s literature can be fun while introducing new words.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons: Compassion

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss teaches his readers that we have a responsibility to care for other people (and creatures and plants). He teaches us to look outside our own problems; to look beyond our own noses and actually see other people. This is something we care deeply about at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We believe children can understand the concept that their actions affect others, and we emphasize important character traits like honesty, compassion, respect, and more every day.

In fact, our character trait we focus on during the month of March (the month of Dr. Seuss’s birthday) is compassion.

The children already have so much compassion for each other, and Dr. Seuss helps us to reinforce those important concepts. Hear his pleading to please, please consider the plights of others.

When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad… you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

–  Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Even plants deserve to be thought of:

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” 

 

– The Lorax

It’s such a simple concept — trees cannot speak. So we must speak for them.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

The Lorax

Not only can we care about other people, we can also do something to help them. That’s a powerful message for every child (and adult) to internalize.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — You’re Good Enough, and It’s Okay to Be Different

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss gave us the message that we have the power to transform our lives. We have responsibility over our own decisions, and we can change the outcome at any time.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact.
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

It doesn’t matter what limitations you have. You are important and can do what you were made to do.

Don’t give up. I believe in you all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Horton Hears a Who!

Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons – Live Life with Imagination

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss created illustrations, stories, and characters that were so different from anything that had ever been done before. He showed us that we aren’t limited by what is real. We can create our own worlds. He used words in new ways, and didn’t limit himself to established rules.

He showed us that creativity and imagination are valuable traits to develop.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Oh, the Things You Can Think

We subscribe heavily to this belief that creativity drives our learning. That’s why we incorporate art, music, creative movement, dance, science, math, and so much more into every single day of learning at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper. Each day we are amazed by how the children cement important life and academic concepts through the creative arts. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or send us a message  to arrange a tour to see how we enrich the lives of preschoolers every day!

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss