How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

How can you help children build empathy, manage everyday emotions and reduce stress and anxiety? With mindfulness! It’s the latest hot buzzword in education and early childhood development, for good reason: a growing body of research shows that practicing mindfulness has a direct impact on kids’ brain development and behavior. Mindfulness teaches you to focus your attention, expand your awareness, and build kindness and patience. These skills help kids become compassionate global citizens, which fits perfectly with our core mission here at Barefoot Books!


Why a deck of mindfulness cards?

Mindful Kids is the very first deck of mindfulness activity cards for ages 4 and up. Like our bestselling Yoga Pretzels, Mindful Kids is a deck of 50 activity cards packaged in a sturdy box for easy portability, so you can carry it with you and use it all day long. Each double-sided card is fully illustrated with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. The activities are divided into 5 categories designed to fit into each part of the day, from morning to night.

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

The activities and an 8-page instructional booklet include tips that make them accessible for children with a wide range of abilities. (More about that below!) And the large, laminated cards make it easy for kids to grab the cards they want and keep them close for reference as they explore the deck.


Developing Mindful Kids

We started by commissioning the text from an expert! Whitney Stewart is an award-winning children’s book author and mindfulness instructor. She has practiced meditation for over thirty years, and is certified to teach by both the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens Program and the Prison Mindfulness Institute. Whitney has tested each activity in this deck with children in her own classes and programs.

Next, we turned to our very own Stefanie Paige Wieder, M.S.Ed., to make sure the activities and language were developmentally appropriate for even the very young end of our target audience (ages 4 to 104!). In the process, we tested them repeatedly in the office. Ever since, I’ve been practicing these activities myself when I need to find a few moments of inner peace during the day!


Making the deck diverse and inclusive

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books

We worked extensively with Beth Cox and Alex Strick at Inclusive Minds to make sure the artwork shows a diverse cast of characters, and that the activities are accessible for a wide range of children. We discussed everything from choosing the clearest term for a pointer/index finger (we chose “pointer,” because that tells you what it does!), to considering when it was appropriate to change the instruction “stand” to “stand or sit” (which makes the activities more inclusive for children who might not be able to perform them standing), to what a kid-friendly hearing aid looks like.


How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot BooksI especially loved discussing the depiction of children with disabilities in the illustrations. For example, one of the characters has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. Beth and Alex coached us through the art-direction process to make sure that we were portraying a sporty, modern-looking wheelchair, as well as showing this child outside of his wheelchair, using other supports like couch cushions, on several cards—to combat the stereotype that children who use wheelchairs are inseparable from their equipment.


Bringing the product to life

One of my favorite parts of the editorial process was working with fabulously talented illustrator Mina Braun, whose artwork brings such whimsy and humor to each activity. It’s not every artist who can take an abstract brief like “girl

pretending to be a tree” or “child sends love to the whole universe” and turn it into sweet, sophisticated artwork. Kids will love all the funny details in the illustrations…including the mindful pets!

How we're bringing mindfulness to preschoolers and beyond | Barefoot Books


When can you use Mindful Kids?

Do the kids in your life ever need to calm down? To practice patience? To think about the way someone else might be feeling? You can use these activities in any of these situations, and many more. When else do you think you’ll pull out a few Mindful Kids cards during your day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! Or if you want to follow the conversation on Twitter, look for #mindfulkids.

Mindful Kids will be available in October 2017.


Lisa Rosinsky is Senior Editor at Barefoot Books. You can follow her at @LisaRosinsky.

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