Deep Breaths Pom-Pom Maze
What is this activity?
What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?
What do you need to prepare for this activity?
Step by step guide
What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?
How can you extend children’s thinking?
Taking deep breaths is a great strategy to help calm our bodies and begin to manage any overwhelming or heightened emotions. Combine this regulation strategy with creativity, engineering, and teamwork to not only help children strengthen their emotional regulation, but also their problem solving and prosocial skills.
ECSEL Standards and Learning GoalsWhat skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?
Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making
- Straws (one for each child)
- Pom-poms (one for each child, or one for each group)
- Recycled materials for building/engineering (e.g., paper towel tubes, cardboard boxes, etc.) OR standard building materials (e.g., wooden blocks, unit blocks, etc.)
- Start by having a conversation about taking deep breaths with children at circle/meeting time. Explain to children that when we have really big feelings, it can be really hard to calm our bodies down and manage those feelings. Deep breaths are one great way that we can regulate, or calm down, our heightened emotions.
- Practice taking a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth with the children as a group. Ask them if they notice anything about their bodies or feelings after taking the deep breaths. Does anyone feel more calm, relaxed, or ready to learn?
- Next, introduce the activity. Tell children that they will first be getting together in small groups and work together to build a maze. The maze can be as simple, challenging, or creative as the children want, as long as they are able to fit a pom-pom through the maze.
- Tell children once their maze is built, they will place the pom-pom at the start of the maze and, using their straws, will have to take deep breaths to blow and move the pom-pom all the way through the maze.
- Remind children that this is not a race! The goal is not to get the pom-pom through the fastest — taking too many quick deep breaths can actually make our feelings even bigger. The goal is instead to see how many deep breaths it takes to get the pom-pom all the way through the maze.
- Have each child take a turn using their straw to move the pom-pom through the maze.
- Record (or have children write down if they are able) how many deep breaths it took each person in the group to get the pom-pom all the way through the maze.
ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.
Use these questions and ideas to extend children’s learning!
Come back together as a group to talk about the activity:
- Who took the most deep breaths in your group? How many breaths?
- Who took the least amount of deep breaths? How many?
- Who took the most deep breaths out of all the groups?
- Who took the least amount of deep breaths?
This can also branch into a larger building activity with different materials and construction, or a whole class engineering effort where you combine all the mazes and take turns as a whole class.
Preschool/Pre-K – Deep Breaths Pom-Pom Maze