For Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, we’re supporting Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity with over 25 years’ experience working with pupils, families and staff across UK schools.
This year, for Children’s Mental Health Week Jaime will be visiting a number of UK schools over the duration of the week to demonstrate how Cosmic Kids can be used as part of a mental health toolkit within schools. However, we didn’t want to stop there. We wanted to develop a number of children’s mental health activities and resources that teachers and parents can access all year round.
This collection of Children’s Mental Health Week Activities is designed to make it easy for parents, guardian’s and teachers to both discuss mental health with children, but also (and most importantly!) create positive mental health habits for the long-term. Essentially, it’s all about arming kids with things that can actually DO to take care of their mental health. And we want to MAKE IT FUN!
Building Mental Health Superpowers
So what can a child do to build their resilience? What techniques can they use to pick themselves up when they’ve had a bad day? How can they learn to notice their thoughts rather than become stuck in them?
Welcome to #MENTALHEALTHSUPERPOWERS, a set of brain snacks to feed mental health, build resilience and increase awareness. Below, we’ve shared 10 activities that can help to improve the mental health of children.
To download the full set to use offline at home or in the classroom, click here. Please feel free to cut them out, stick them in the fridge and talk about them with your kids / class! You can also look out for the videos about this on – ad-free on our App and also on YouTube.
We hope these make it easier for parents and teachers to talk with kids about mental health – and also that they give kids things they can do to help themselves.
1. Be The Pond – An activity to get kids thinking about managing their feelings
In this video, Jaime helps kids to imagine their mind is a big pond. Within that pond, there are all different kinds of fish that represent different feelings. These might be feelings like anger, loneliness or anxiety (and if you want to know more about managing anxiety, then visit our blog where we share 9 ways to help kids with anxiety).
By visualising feelings in this way, Jaime explains that all feelings are ok to experience and that every feeling is welcome. You can be the pond, and the fish can be the fish – allowing the feelings to come and go around you.
Using an activity like this to get kids to be more mindful of their feelings, which is one step towards improving mental health overall.
2. Make a Magical Worry Box – A hands-on crafting activity to manage worries in a physical way
When they are in our minds, worries can be difficult to articulate and manage. By physically writing down worries, a child can articulate them and give their brains a break from holding onto them.
This is a great crafting activity that can be done at home or in the classroom to improve mental health and wellbeing. It gives kids and pupils a physical space where they can put their worries, so that they can separate themselves from them.
Remember, to download all of the high-res assets for each activity for free, visit our Mental Health Superpowers page.
3. Build a Team of Superstars in Your Brain – An individual or group activity that promotes positive thinking
Many grown ups use real life superstars to motivate them in their lives. They might be sports players, business gurus or exceptional individuals. They could also be friends or family members – anyone that inspires them to be the best version of themselves.
By getting children to think about who would be on their team of superstars, we can promote positive thinking, as we consider the very best attributes in other people. Ask your children or students who would be on their team of superstars and why?
Whether it’s someone they look up to or your lovely dog – it’s up to you who is in their team. Just keep them up there in your mind, ready to help you at any time. And if you need some advice, you can ask them, ‘what would you do?’.
By recognising positive traits in others, we can then think about these in relation to ourselves. It could be considering how we emulate these qualities, or how others having them lifts us up in some way.
4. Finger Breathing – Using breathing techniques to give your mind a rest
Breathing is a powerful thing. It can be used to fuel our bodies by breathing more heavily when we use energy, but it can also be used to make us feel calm and centred.
By using breathing techniques to improve our mental health, we can ensure we take just a few moments out of our day to recentre.
Finger breathing is a technique you can use with children to help them do just that. To use it, you simply sit with your hand open facing you. Place the index (pointer) finger of your other hand at the base of your thumb on your open hand. As you breathe in, trace the upward lines of your fingers. As you breathe out, use controlled breaths while you trace back around and down your fingers.
This is a way of getting children to take five deep breaths with a simple, healthy focus point for their mind.
5. Make a mind jar – A creative crafting activity that can explain emotions
Understanding our emotions and how they work is key to managing our mental health. Within this activity, we take an empty jar. Pour hot water into the jar and add some glitter glue. Secure the lid and give it a shake.
Now, ask kids to do this when they feel anger, frustration or another strong emotion. Then, ask them to sit and watch the glitter in the jar while it settles. This is how our emotions work – they are sometimes strong and our minds can get stirred up, but these emotions come and go and then we feel calm again.
Remember, to download all of the high-res assets for each Children’s Mental Health Week activity for free, visit our Mental Health Superpowers page.
6. Zen Den Mindfulness Videos – To understand how our brain works and how to bring ourselves back from strong feelings
When we’re feeling stressed, our brain tries really hard to protect us. It’s really nice of it, but sometimes it can go too far and make us panic! It’s helpful for children to understand that sometimes our brain overreacts like this, and to learn how we can bring ourselves back.
Our Zen Den video ‘The Owl and the Guard Dog’ explains this really nicely, and is one of our most popular Zen Den episodes to use an activity for Children’s Mental Health Week.
7. Try Kids Yoga – To use the benefits of movement and stretching to improve mental health
Not just yoga, but movement and stretching in general has been proven to improve the mental health of both adults and children alike. This is because exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good.
Making exercise habitual is a great way to improve mental health. 350,000 schools use our Cosmic Kids Yoga each week, and in our latest impact survey of more than 3,000 teachers, parents and carers, 99% reported that doing Cosmic Kids yoga has a positive impact on childrens’ physical and mental wellbeing.
8. Do A Full Body Scan – To bring attention to our bodies and how they work
Getting kids to do a ‘body scan’ brings their attention to their body. Ask your children or class to lie down. Starting with thinking about your feet, move slowly up the body paying attention to how you feel from your feet to your head.
This exercise is immediately relaxing and helpful for building focus skills.
9. Dance! – To let the endorphins change your mood!
Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being. When we move our bodies by dancing, these endorphins are released. This is why dancing is a perfect activity to use during Children’s Mental Health Week!
Looking for inspiration? Try our series of yoga discos that get kids moving and feeling good!
10. Send Love – An activity to encourage building up others
Looking after your mental health isn’t always possible to do alone. Sometimes, it helps to have someone sending you love and positivity, which can boost your mood and in-turn, your mental health.
In this activity, close your eyes and think of someone you love – and imagine sending them a big ball of love and kindness. All that warmth is like giving and a big hug – and it brings you joy too!
If you send love out into the world, you’ll get it back with interest. Imagining putting love out into the world feels wonderful and builds happiness.
You can add some crafting to this activity in loads of ways, from drawing a heart while thinking, to making a card to someone you love and telling them what it is you love so much about them.
Looking for more Children’s Mental Health Week activity ideas and resources?
DOWNLOAD THE FULL RESOURCE, which includes x20 Mental Health Activities and resources – perfect for use at home or in school.