DIY Mindful Zen Garden Craft for Kids

A mindful Zen garden for kids is a simple and fun craft that you can do with your kids at home or in a kids’ yoga class.

A Zen garden is an ancient meditation technique developed by monks in Japan to aid in mindfulness. The traditional approach was to create large sand and rock gardens to rake for a calming and meditative practice.

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Now, many people all over the world have a smaller desktop Zen garden to bring them a little peace and calm in their day.  The little Zen garden is a reminder to take mindful breaks, rest your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.

Combined with my Mindful Glitter Calm Down Jar at my desk, I feel more centered and mindful with my own mini Zen garden to help me focus throughout the day.

You can easily make your own miniature Zen garden to have at home, or for your kids to have in their workspace.

I did this craft with my two boys, ages 8 and 11. The younger is very artistic and was right on board with it, ready to go. His fairy rock garden on the beach is quaint and adorable.

His older brother, usually reluctant to do anything other than be on his screens, was surprisingly really into it as well! He was ready to try it out immediately.

He listened to the directions, learned about how mini zen gardens help with mindfulness, got started on his desert scene, and after about 20 minutes of constructing carefully said, “This actually is really calming.”

YAY, mindfulness crafts for the win! The whole process created a very relaxing atmosphere for all of us.

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First of all, What is Mindfulness for Kids?

First, your child or students must learn a little bit about mindfulness, why it is important, and how it relates to mini zen gardens.

Mindfulness is the art and practice of paying close attention to one thing at a time.

During the day, we often get caught up in too many things, our tasks, our to-do lists, the meals we will eat later, and things that happened earlier that caused great emotion.  

Our minds become like a monkey, jumping from thought to thought, with no real presence in the current moment.

To still our minds and quiet our racing thoughts, it’s important to practice mindfulness. We take deep breaths, calm our bodies, find stillness, and focus our thoughts on one thing.

That one thing can be a mini zen garden. You can focus on the different patterns in the sand, the smell of an essential oil, and the process of raking patterns in the sand.

Being mindful of the present moment helps us feel happier, be more productive, and feel calmer.

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What Tools Do You Need to Make Your Mini Zen Garden?

There are lots of options for creating your own desktop Zen garden from items you have at home.

There are some ready-made DIY mini Zen garden kits available.

Or you can get the materials to assemble one on your own with kids. Many of these supplies are also available at your local craft store.

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Here are the materials and supplies that you need for your DIY Mini Zen Garden project

  1. A flat, low-edged container for the sand:
    • A Shallow bowl
    • Shoebox lid
    • Photo box lid (slightly sturdier)
    • Tray or small box
    • Planter tray (heavier but works great)
  2. Fine sand. Decorative white, colored sand, or black sand is best, not the “playground sand”
  3. A mini rake, fork, or even a pine branch to make raking designs.
  4. Rocks. Choose a good variety of sizes, colors, and shapes.

Optional additions to your Mini Zen Garden

(Keep these materials in another small container near the mini zen gardens to create a new design each time to your personal taste)

  • Decorative branches
  • Craft sticks to make a fence or DIY rake
  • Glue if you plan to make a fence
  • A small bowl for water
  • Pebbles for dividing two areas of the container
  • Sand stamps (These are SO cool, I highly recommend them)
  • Bead figures or small toys (turtles, fairies, gnomes, pandas… these Yoga Sloths are adorable and perfect!)
  • Fairy houses
  • Moss for decorating one side of the garden
  • Air plants to decorate the scene
  • A favorite essential oil to add a few drops to the sand
  • Soil, gravel, or pebbles
  • Sticks, small peices of wood, or other elements gathered from nature
  • A small dust brush and pan for cleaning stray sand
  • A cover for it while you are not using it. (Especially if it will be by a computer and you have pets or small children!). A microwave cover would work well, or a slightly larger box.

Once you have all the tools, it’s time to get the basics assembled.

How to Set Up a DIY Zen Garden to Practice Mindfulness for Kids

Once you have your mini Zen garden supplies and you have the container with the sand ready, make sure you explain the process and tactics for mindfully using this tool.

The purpose of mini Zen gardens is to meditate or focus on just one thing.

  1. Choose a mantra or a positive affirmation.
  2. Start with the sand clear and flat. Gently shake it so it is level.
  3. Choose the elements that you would like to place in the garden.  
  4. Mindfully and slowly take a deep breath as you carefully choose where to place each item. This is an important part to model with kids or students, to help them practice the focus and concentration aspect of meditation.
  5. Once all of your items are placed, choose a rake.  Create sand patterns with slow, steady movements, breathing slowly to keep your hand steady.
  6. As you approach the rocks and other items, notice what it feels like to go around, or make a different pattern. This is part of the mindfulness process as well.  How does it feel to encounter obstacles?
  7. While raking, you can also quietly say your mantra to yourself, lifting your mind with a positive affirmation.
  8. Once you’ve finished raking and making designs, it’s up to you to decide to save it, or replace the rocks and obstacles and smooth out the sand.  How does it feel to have your design be impermanent?

If you have younger kids or if you are planning to keep your mini Zen garden in a classroom, I recommend using a larger tray to set the Zen garden in, just in case of spills. You can keep a small dustpan nearby to give them to option to clean up after as well.

Here are a few more examples of different mini Zen gardens you can set up with your kids or students!

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This little desert scene with colored sand, complete with an oasis, was crafted by an 11-year-old, who said, “You know this actually is really calming. I like it.” Whew!

This adorable fairy-themed mini zen garden was made by a very creative 8-year-old! DIY zen garden for kids, fairy garden for kids, mindfulness meditation craft for kids

For this mini Zen garden, we added a popsicle stick fence to the lid of a photo box, a river of stones and our favorite essential oils to the moss. An air plant would be a good addition here since they don’t require soil. mindfulness craft for kids, kids mindfulness craft zen garden

This one is made with just a photo box lid and stones! The extra room for raking with the small rake may help it feel more zen and relaxing.

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Another DIY mini zen garden in the base of a pot, this one has essential oils, small rocks and moss.

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Your own mini zen garden can be just a few stones and space to make sand patterns.

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A small wooden tray is a compact space for a mini zen garden project.

We even made one another that looks like a little beach! You can find lots of mini figurines for creating nature scenes and mini gardens of your choice.

In conclusion, creating a mini Zen garden is not only a fun, hands-on project, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity for mindfulness and stress relief.

These mini Zen gardens, with their distinct designs and imaginative themes, allow for personal expression and creativity. Whether you choose to adorn the space with colorful sand, an air plant, stones or other elements, every garden will be a unique reflection of its creator.

This activity can become a soothing part of your daily routine, offering tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of life. So, embark on this Zen journey and let your creativity flow!

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