Mindfulness activities for children with a visual impairment

Mindfulness is a practice where you use your senses to physically engage in the world around you. Our minds can get so busy with thoughts that it can become distracting or even overwhelming.
The experts in our Children and Young People's team have put together eight mindfulness activities for your child to try.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness helps to put your thoughts to one side and to focus on what is happening right now. It can be empowering for children to practice mindfulness – it helps them to manage stress and anxiety, and can also help to promote self-regulation and positive emotions.

Mindfulness using the senses

You can read more about the importance of mindfulness for children and young people with a visual impairment in our blog that we published last year here.

As with any activity, different ones will suit different children so explore some of our ideas in this blog and find the ones that work for your child!

Superhero Senses!

Superhero Senses is a child’s take on a traditional mindfulness activity. Ask your child to turn their senses up to superhero level. Find a quiet peaceful place to sit or lie down and ask them to really focus their mind to think about:
• What can they hear?
• What can they see?
• What can they feel?
• What can they taste?
• What can they smell?
Ask them to describe each in turn.

To help older children focus a busy mind, you might want to put a different spin on it:
• 5 things you can feel.
• 4 things you can hear.
• 3 things you can see.
• 2 things you can smell.
• 1 thing you can taste.

Smiling student in the sports hall

Body Breathing for Mindfulness

Being aware of your breathing helps your mind to focus on the present. Try this exercise:

  • Lie down in a comfortable place, put both hands on your tummy and close your eyes.
  • Take in three slow deep breaths and feel your hands moving (parents – to begin with you may want to count, “1, 2, 3” for each breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out, until your child gets the idea of slow controlled breathing).

Ask your child to think about and answer the following questions silently in their heads:

  • What is moving your hands?
  • Can you feel the air moving in and out of your lungs?
  • Does the air feel cooler on the way in and warmer on the way out?
  • Can you hear your breath?
  • What does it sound like?

High 5 Breathing

This is similar to the Body Breathing as it encourages you to focus on your breathing, but it also uses mindful movement as well.

  • Hold your hand up with your palm facing you.
  • Start at the outside edge of your thumb and use your pointy finger on your other hand to move up to the top. Breathe in as it reaches the top – pause very briefly but do not hold your breath.
  • Breathe out as you trace down the other side of your thumb.
  • Repeat this with each finger on your hand until you reach the bottom of the little finger.
  • You can ask your child to repeat this several times to ensure calmness.

'What's In The Bag?' Mindfulness Activity

This is a great activity for children with a visual impairment. It really helps to focus using the other senses rather than sight. You can play this game with your child or they can play with a friend or sibling. To make it more challenging you could choose objects that are similar to each other so your child really has to focus on feeling for difference.

Our video explains how the ‘What’s In The Bag?’ activity works, or try these instructions:

  • Fill a small cloth bag or pillow case with a collection of objects.
  • Make sure the objects have different textures – smooth, shiny, rough, fluffy, etc.
  • Take turns putting your hand into the bag and describing an object before guessing what it is (encourage your child to use descriptive language).
  • Challenge your child by asking them to find a particular object in the bag.
Young Person on a Mindfulness walk

Mindfulness Nature Walk

Go for a walk in nature and encourage your child to use all of their senses to take it all in. This activity really allows children to focus in on the world around them. Ask your child to consider these questions:

  • What can you hear? – Pause and listen really carefully. Can you hear birds singing, an aeroplane overhead, sheep baa-ing? Are the sounds close or far away?
  • What can you smell? – This is a bit more challenging. Stop and sniff, let your nose do the job. Can you smell cows? Cut grass? Soil?
  • What can you feel? – Pick up some leaves – how do they feel? Smooth, shiny, rough or crunchy? Hold a stick. Is it heavy or light, sharp or rough?
  • What can you see? – If your child has some vision, pick out the different shapes or colours around you? Are some things big or small?

Glitter Jars

Glitter jars are designed to help calm, soothe and settle the mind. To make a glitter jar you will need: an empty jar with a lid, water, clear PVA glue, and glitter (different sizes create the best effect).

  • Fill a jar ¾ full with water, then add a big squeeze of glue.
  • Add some coloured glitter to the jar (you can mix colours!)
  • Put the lid on and make sure it is tightly fastened.
  • Shake your jar and watch how the glitter swirls around. Encourage your child to imagine the glitter is like their thoughts when they are upset or worried.
  • Watch as the glitter starts to settle and the water clears. Explain that our mind works in the same way. When you are calm your thoughts start to settle and you can see things clearer.
  • Encourage your child to use the glitter jar when their thoughts and feelings get all stirred up. You might need to prompt this initially but then you may find that your child will eventually do this independently.

Mindful Sounds

For this mindfulness activity, you will need something that makes a bell sound. Give the following instructions to your child before ringing the bell (with younger children you may want to just give one instruction at a time):

  • When I ring the bell concentrate on the sound that you hear.
  • Can you hear it louder in one ear than you do in the other?
  • Keep your eyes closed until the sound is completely gone – if you notice your thoughts wandering, just bring your attention back to the sound of the bell.
  • After you open your eyes, remain silent until you hear my voice.
Boy wearing headphones

Slime-fulness

This slime acts like a stress reliever. To make the slime you will need: a bowl, cornflour, water, a spoon and some food colouring.

  • Put about 2 big scoops of cornflour into the bowl and add in enough water to make it into a thick liquid (go slowly as it can go runny if you add too much!)
  • Add a few drops of food colouring.
  • Squeeze it quick and tight and watch how it becomes solid.
  • Release it slowly and notice as it melts back to a liquid. Let your worries melt away as you squeeze and release the slime.

Further support for mindfulness

Our Children and Young People’s team are full of ideas to help support your visually impaired child with their development, so why not give them a call on 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk

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Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.