Deep Breaths Pom-Pom Maze

Learning Areas:

  • Engineering
  • Math


What is this activity?

ECSEL Standards

What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?


What do you need to prepare for this activity?

Portrait of little Asian muslim baby girl wearing hijab and eyeglasses playing in the park


Step by step guide

ECSEL Prompts

What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?

Extended Learning

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 Goals

What skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?

Emotional Regulation

Children will be able to practice taking deep breaths as a regulation strategy.

Cause & Effect

Children will begin to be able to understand the connection between feelings and behaviors.

Problem Solving

Children will be able to test out different strategies to find the best solution.

Empathy & Prosocial Skills

Children will be able to practice taking turns, sharing materials, and communicating with others to complete a task.

CASEL Standards

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.)
  • Tape


  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Have each child take a turn using their straw to move the pom-pom through the maze. 
  7. 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

ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.

Let’s all practice taking a big deep breath in through our noses, and out through our mouths. Ready? Inhale…..Exhale.

Do you have a different idea? Make sure you let your friends know, use your words to tell them how you’re feeling.

How does your body feel after taking a deep breath? What emotion are you feeling after taking a deep breath

Were you able to get the pom-pom all the way through? What do you think you need to do differently?

I love how you are all working together to build this maze! Great job sharing and taking turns using the tape and materials

I saw your pom-pom go flying! Do you think you need to take smaller or slower breaths?

Extended Learning

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

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