Thursday, October 7, 2021

DIY Mindfulness Flashcards for Children, Made With Cricut



These DIY mindfulness flashcards for kids, made with Cricut, are a tool that parents and caregivers can use to help children cope with their worries and process emotions.


I cannot think of anybody who doesn’t have good reason to be stressed right now. At a time when everyday stresses are compounded with the universal stresses caused by a global pandemic, parents and caregivers are worried not only about their own anxiety, but that of the children in their care.

I made these mindfulness flashcards with the help of my Cricut Maker and Cricut Joy cutting machines. (You don’t need both machines. I’ll explain further.) The idea is to create a whole set of flashcards so that when kids are feeling stressed, hurt or angry, they can grab a card at random and perform the activities that the card suggests.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine. This post contains affiliate links. 
I am not a health professional and these activity cards are not intended to replace any mental health care that may be needed. The flashcards are simply one tool that children (and adults) can use to relax in the moment and be more mindful of their feelings. The flashcards are simple and fun to create and your kids can help to assemble them. (That's an activity in itself!)

In this article, 51 Mindfulness Exercises for Kids in the Classroom, Waterford.org cites brain imaging research that shows practicing mindfulness can, “alter brain structure in a way that can improve a student’s reaction to stress. It thickens the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for perception and reasoning, and increases blood flow in the brain. And not only does mindfulness training reduce stress levels, it can also help alleviate anxiety or depression.”



Materials Needed for DIY Mindfulness Flashcards for Children:

Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy or other Cricut cutting machine

Cardstock

Fine point pens

Cricut vinyl and/or

Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock (for Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore 3 or Cricut Maker 3)

StandardGrip machine mat

Scissors

Weeder


Steps To Make DIY Mindfulness Flashcards for Children:



I'm going to walk you through the steps for making these mindfulness flashcards for kids from scratch in case you want to do something a bit different. You can also use my Design Space file to start, if you like my flashcards as is. Choose "Shapes" and insert a square. Unlock the corner of the square and create a rectangle by dragging to the appropriate size. I made my flashcards 3" x 5", a standard flashcard size. 



Duplicate the rectangle until you have the number of flashcards you want. I did eight flashcards to demonstrate but you can do as many as you like. There are quite a lot of mindfulness activity options that you may wish to represent.



Choose a colour for your flashcards. I chose white so that the illustrations and wording on the flashcards would show up well in any colour. 



Insert your desired images from the multitude of images available in Cricut Design Space. Choose "Images" and then enter a term in the search bar. I started with "heart."



I also added these images: an eye, hands, a yoga pose, crayons, "breathe in breathe out," a stop sign and children walking. The flashcards themselves are a basic cut from cardstock, but I wanted some of the images to be drawn on with Cricut fine point pens. 

For those images, select the image and ensure you choose "Pen" (under "Draw") from the "Operation" dropdown. Then choose the size/type of pen or marker and the colour (so that the machine can prompt you to insert the right pen at the right time). Those images that you wish to cut from vinyl or smart paper (such as the heart, crayons and stop sign) will be basic cuts under "Operation."

You will be adhering the cut smart paper or vinyl images to the flashcards by hand, so centring them within the flashcard on the screen isn't important. For the drawn images though, you may wish to select the flashcard and the image (drag the cursor across them both) and select "Align" and "Center." Then group and attach each image to its flashcard so that your Cricut machine will draw the image in the appropriate area. 



I wanted to try Cricut Joy smart paper (it's backed with adhesive!) for the cut images (but you can also use vinyl). I cut the flashcards and performed the drawing operations on my Cricut Maker first and then used Cricut Joy for the smart paper cuts. You don't need to do this; I just wanted to be able to use a bigger piece of cardstock in the Maker. If you do the project entirely with Cricut Joy, you may have to change the pen type and cut each card on individual mats. (While using the Maker, I hid the cut images by clicking on the eye next to them in the layers screen.) 

Again, you don't need two machines to do this project. Choose your machine in the Design Space screen and make some adjustments for the machine you are using. If you have an older Cricut Maker like I do, you can simply use vinyl rather than smart paper. 



When you're ready, click "Make It." In the next screen,  check that everything is in place (ie. drawings are actually on the flashcards).



Choose your material, which in this case is cardstock. I used Martha Stewart cardstock in Wedding Cake. Insert the appropriate pen in Clamp A and ensure the fine point blade is in Clamp B, as indicated on the screen. 



Affix the cardstock to the cutting mat and insert into the Maker. Follow the directions to draw and cut, changing the pen to a different colour when prompted.



To cut the images from smart paper on the Cricut Joy, I went back to the Design Space screen and hid the images that were already cut/drawn. I also selected Cricut Joy from the machine options.



The smart paper has a built-in backing so you don't need a cutting mat. After choosing "Make it" you'll be prompted to indicate how you're loading your material. Select "Without Mat."



Check the next screen to ensure that the everything looks okay and then select "Continue" to proceed with the cuts. Set the material to Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock. Ensure the fine-point blade is loaded and then Click "Go."



Cricut Joy does not have any on-machine buttons - all you have to do is load the paper and watch it work!



Weed the excess smart paper material away, peel back the cut images and adhere them to the flashcards. 


Mindfulness Flashcard Activity Ideas




When your child is anxious or upset, invite them to randomly select a mindfulness flashcard. Half the fun is seeing which card you get!

1. Yoga - This card acts as a cue to do a short yoga video for kids or simply do a pose or two, maybe downward dog or child’s pose. 

2. Exercise/walk - Along the same lines, the walking card encourages kids to take a few minutes to be in the moment while getting beneficial exercise. Maybe you could head outside with your child for a few minutes to walk or observe nature. 

3. STOP - The stop sign cues children to Stop, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed. Find a more detailed explanation of the process and potential benefits in this article.




4. Colour - It's always nice to see children caught up in creating artwork, and colouring can be a nice, simple way to reduce stress. You can find lots of free printables online or use a simple paper colouring book from the dollar store. If your child is older, they might appreciate a more intricate colouring book geared to adults. Here are some details about "mindful colouring" and some colouring sheets to print out. 

5. Heart - If your child selects the heart mindfulness flashcard, that's a cue to monitor their hearts/bodies and how they’re feeling. You might guide them through a short body scan and encourage them to talk about how their body feels and if they are holding any tension in a particular area.

6. Just breathe - We all know what it's like to "forget" to breathe. Obviously we don't actually stop breathing but we don't breathe fully into our abdomens. The breathing card encourages kids to breathe more deeply for a short time. Here's an explanation of the technique of box breathing. 

7. The five senses - You can either put the five senses on one card or break them down into separate cards. For example the eye card encourages children to name five things they can see that they might not normally notice. The hands card cues them to notice four things you can feel. (A friendly family pet is a good option for this one, because pets are definite stress relievers themselves.) This Five Senses Worksheet outlines some great ideas. 

For some more flashcard ideas, ask your kids for ways that they like to calm themselves and reduce anxiety. I'm sure they'll enjoy making cards based on their own ideas.

Options for Finishing Flashcards




Laminate your cards with an easy at-home kit. They'll be more durable, last longer and remain free of fingerprints from budding artists.

Hole punch a corner of each card and put them on a key ring to keep them tidy and accessible.

Create a carrying case. I crafted an easy carrying case for our mindfulness cards using a "breathe" image I found in Design Space. I cut it from Cricut everyday iron-on material and pressed it onto a Cricut cosmetic bag blank with my EasyPress 2. 


Questions for you


Do you think any of these flashcards might be helpful for your children? What other flashcards and images would you include? 


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