Just like adults, kids might be feeling anxious as the pandemic keeps us at home, making it difficult to stay focused on tasks and schoolwork.
Scroll down for DIY ideas you can make at home to help kids relax and stay focused on schoolwork. Need supplies? Request a kit for curbside pickup! Don’t forget you can request the books on our booklist below for curbside pickup, or ask us to build a hand-picked bundle on any subject.
DIY STRESS BALLS
- 1 balloon (not blown up)
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice
- 1 paper funnel
Watch this video if you would like more detailed instructions.
Take your balloon, give it a couple of good stretches. Blow it up. Let the air out. Do this about 3 times.
Roll a piece of paper like a tube. Place one end into the opening of the deflated, stretched out balloon. Widen the other end until it’s shaped like a funnel. Hold onto the balloon opening/funnel firmly.
Very carefully pour the uncooked rice into the wide end of the paper funnel so the rice pours into the empty balloon. Continue doing this until either the balloon fills up or you run out of rice.
Your balloon should be now full of uncooked rice. Ask an adult for help tying the open end of the balloon into a knot.
Now you have your very own homemade stress ball. Squeeze it for stress relief as needed!
DIY MINI ZEN GARDEN
Rock gardens have been used at temples in Japan to encourage contemplation since the Muromachi Period (1336–1573). If you visit Japan, you can visit the famous Zen gardens of Ryōanji and Tenryūji. Use supplies in your kit or that you have at home to make your own tiny tabletop version.
- One 9 inch pie pan or shoebox lid
- Sand to fill the bottom of your container
- Several decorations such as shells and rocks
- One plastic fork
Sit at a flat and sturdy surface, like a table, to put this project together. Place your aluminum pie pan or box top on the surface. Add sand.
Place rocks and shells in the sand, anywhere that feels comfortable to you. The key is to find a pattern or place to put these decorations that gives you a feeling of calmness. Feel free to move these decorations as needed each time you tend the garden!
Mini Zen gardens you buy at the store include a tiny rake for creating patterns in the sand, but you can use a fork instead. You might choose to make patterns that represent waves, or you can have fun creating your own patterns. See photos here for inspiration, or look online at real rock gardens.
Remember, the purpose of a Mini Zen Garden is to help you achieve a sense of calmness and tranquility. Taking care of your Zen Garden can help you release negative energy, calm your body and mind, as well as teach you how to refocus on something else when you get overwhelmed.
DIY SENSORY BAG
- 1 heavy duty baggie that zippers closed
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- Small objects such as sequins, sparkles, colored balls, jewels you find in your kit or collect around your house
If you don’t have rice at home, watch Liz make a sensory bag using oil and items from nature. You can add colored water to the oil, things you find outside, or small sparkly items from around your house.
Fill your baggie with uncooked rice. You should have enough rice to just about fill the bag. Next, add the tiny objects. Then make sure the baggie is completely sealed!
Using your hands, gently knead the bag (kind of like squishing the bag) to mix and move the rice and objects around until they are well mixed.
When you feel stressed or bored use your Sensory Bag to keep you focused and busy. The key is to try to discover new objects hidden in the rice by gently shaking and squishing the bag.
STRESS RELIEF TIPS
Being stressed out can really bring you down. Not only can it make you feel cranky and tired, it can also make your body and mind feel yucky. Here are some easy ways to help calm yourself when you feel stressed out.
Exercising not only helps your physical body feel better but it also helps your mind feel better. When you exercise your body releases certain chemicals, called endorphins, that make you feel good. Any exercise works, choosing something that you enjoy is the key!
Exercise can also help you fall asleep faster (because working out can make you tired!) and have a more quality sleep.
When we feel angry, sad or stressed it is hard to let go of what might be making us feel bad. We might not always want to talk to someone or say our problem out loud. Writing it down in a journal or just on a piece of paper might help you release these feelings but still keep your privacy.
Laughing is a super important way to beat stress. Physically, laughing helps relax your muscles. It just makes you feel good! Find different ways to make you laugh like watching a funny show, reading a silly book or telling someone a joke.
Spend time with friends and family. Seeing people you really love or just enjoy being with can be a real pick me up. Being happy can also release another chemical in your brain called oxytocin, which is a natural stress reliever!
Listen to music. Try a new Spotify playlist, or check a CD from the library! Get up and dance for every more fun.