I don’t know about you, but I always feel like the time before Christmas break is so chaotic. Kids are excited, and teachers are exhausted. Everyone just needs to refocus and embrace the calm! That’s why I love doing a mindfulness exercise during classroom guidance lessons around the holidays!
I am always blown away by how well elementary school students engage with mindfulness exercise and recognize the ways in which their senses clue them in to their feelings. This activity is perfect for just that as the students will use all of their senses to explore their feelings and responses as they play with delightful-smelling play dough!
To make the play dough, I started with this recipe for gingerbread play dough from Tammy at Housing a Forest. I mostly followed her recipe but made swaps based on what I had on hand. I used coconut oil and gluten free flour just because that’s what I had at home. And just for peace of mind, this is completely edible albeit not very tasty, but we all have that one kid who will definitely eat the play dough. Make it ahead at home on the stove top to thicken it and store it in a gallon size zipper bag for easy transport. For an entire class of around 27 students, multiplying Tammy’s recipe by 3 works well! Every student gets about 1/4 cup of the play dough, which is more than enough. This is the tripled recipe I used:
- 3 cups gluten free flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 6 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 cups water
- 3-5.5 tbsp coconut oil
- 6 tsp cinnamon
- 6 tsp ginger
- 3 tsp nutmeg
- 3 tsp cloves
For a ready-to-use mindfulness script to use with this activity, click this link to download a free mindfulness script (it’s a Google Drive link). Students will explore the play dough through their senses, paying attention to the sensations they feel as they squeeze, roll, and smell the play dough.
I love doing activities like this around the holidays because we all need time to turn inward and refocus! Teachers love it when we enter the classroom with activities that help bring their students down a few levels and teach emotion regulation strategies because it makes their lives easier too. The holidays are so exciting and full of cheerful energy, but sometimes we just need 10 minutes to refocus and redirect energy into something that brings a sense of calm.
And if you love Play Doh as much as I do, check out these 5 ways to use Play Doh in school counseling!
Wishing you lots of peace, calm, and mindfulness this holiday season!