Virtual has become the name of the game – with meetings, schoolwork, and workout classes all being done online. If your schools started up recently, you’ve probably realized how easy it is to get lost in the hustle and bustle of school and work all being done under the same roof.
It’s now more important than ever to adopt some mindfulness (intentionally focusing awareness on the present moment) exercises & activities for you and your child to do to calm your minds and bodies. This outdoor craft for kids is the perfect place to start!
Nature Mandalas: Outdoor Mindfulness Activity for Kids
(Update: This post now includes FREE printable mandala colouring pages for your kids! Grab your free pages right here)
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit, a ceremonial and ritual language in Hindu/Buddhist practices. It’s a circular symbol which represents the universe, serving as a reminder that life is continuous. They are traditionally used as a meditation tool in Eastern traditions. The belief is that you can achieve a peaceful state of mind from just focusing on the shape of the mandala.
Making mandalas is very calming as well as centering. It’s also a great way to reconnect children with nature. By spending time creating the circles and patterns involved in a mandala, your child will be encouraged to slow down and pay close attention to the materials they’ll be using.
TIP: Coloring mandalas is a type of therapy; in fact, just the act of coloring is a stress-reliever. Mandala coloring pages are made up of repetitive shapes and patterns that children can take their time to color as they choose. There is no right or wrong way to complete the designs. If you and your child are new to mandalas, I recommend starting with a coloring page. This will get your child familiar with a mandala before making their own.
How to Make a Nature Mandala
STEP ONE: DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO COLLECT NATURAL MATERIALS
My daughter decided to use her plastic toy wagon to hold the natural materials she found. It worked out perfectly because she didn’t have to worry about carrying or dropping any of the materials she collected (and neither did I! YAY!). You could also use an egg carton, a sand bucket, plastic bag, basket, or even a muffin tin.
STEP TWO – Collect pieces of nature
Gather natural materials. Think of materials such as flower petals, blades of grass, pine cones, leaves, pine needles, stones, sticks, anything else you find. Mandalas often include repeating patterns, so try to gather multiples of whatever objects you find. Flowers and/or petals can help to add a pop of color to your mandala, so keep an eye out for those. If you want to challenge your child, you could turn this outdoor craft for kids into a scavenger hunt. Give your child specific nature items to find for each “ring” of the mandala.
STEP THREE – CONSTRUCTING YOUR MANDALA
We marked the center of the mandala with a large rock. You can use anything you’d like as your centerpiece. My daughter, then, chose sea shells that she collected during our trip up North for the first layer. She built a circular layer around the rock and then continued to add rings of materials in bigger concentric circles around her original ring of sea shells. You can create it however you like! You could use bright colors or muted earth tones. Make it big or small, and make it as simple or complex as you want. We decided to keep it simple for our first time, but next time I’m going to challenge my daughter to include more repetitive patterns in her design. It would be a great math activity!
This is a great opportunity to encourage your child to use descriptive language – talk about the colors, shapes, sizes and textures of the materials you use. My daughter and I talked about the pretty purple flowers, the large smooth rocks, the long thin sticks, etc.
I plan to create a series of mandalas with my daughter using seasonal materials in the different seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Will you try this outdoor craft for kids before the end of summer?
Coloring is another activity for children that is full of mindfulness. These mandala coloring pages are wonderful for little ones – and completely FREE to you! Grab yours here
Nataly is a certified elementary teacher turned stay-at-home-mom to two little girls. She enjoys sharing simple yet fun kids activities to help make playtime meaningful!
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