Playful Ways to Teach Deep Breathing

You say it all the time - “Take a deep breath” Maybe you say it to your children, or to your students, or perhaps even to yourself. But sometimes you need a little more structure and playfulness around how to actually teach a child (or yourself!) how to take a deep breath. Here’s a selection of the best ideas I’ve found for deep breathing.

With props



You all know I love a simple arts and crafts project. You can make a simple jellyfish using paper plates and streamers. Using the “jellyfish tentacles” is a neat visual to show children how to take deep breaths. This idea comes from Kids Relaxation, take a look at their cute jellyfish!

                                         My own children made jellyfish too, they really love stapling things right now...

                                        My own children made jellyfish too, they really love stapling things right now...


The idea is similar to the jellyfish, using your breath to make it look like the dragon is breathing fire. Take a cup, make a hole in the bottom and attach some streamers to the top. Breathe out to make it look like the dragon is breathing fire.


Blowing bubbles is a great way to slow down and breathe. You have to control your breath to make the bubbles without popping them. This is one of my son’s favorite activities to do when he is upset. In fact, it is part of his calming box to help him manage his big feelings.


Get some colored feathers and have a child pick out one. It could be a color that they love or one that makes them feel calm. Then have them breathe in and hold it for a count of 3, then have them breathe out going up on one side of the feather and going down on the other side of the feather.  


You can either make your own or buy one. If you make your own, the children can decorate it any way they’d like. But it’s also easy to buy an inexpensive one at the dollar store. Children can practice blowing the pinwheel and breathing out.

Balancing a ball

This is a cool activity that is not only fun, but also helpful for teaching kids to breathe out. It doesn’t require a ton of materials either, just a straw, paper, tape and a ping pong ball or a felt ball wrapped in foil.  Check out this floating ball activity from All for the Boys.

Stuffed animals

Another great visual to use involves using a favorite stuffed animal. Have kids lay on their backs and put their stuffed animal on their belly. They have to breathe in and out to make their stuffed friend move.

With shapes & numbers


Breathe in for 3, hold for 3, breathe out for 3

Square Breathing

Breathe in for 4, Hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4.

Lazy 8

Start with an image of an 8 on it’s side (it looks like an infinity sign). Starting in the middle, go up to the left and trace the left part of the 8 with your finger while you breathe in. When you get to the middle of the 8 again, breathe out while you trace the right part of the 8 with your finger.

Star Breathing

Breathe in, hold at the point, breathe out, keep going until you’ve gone around the whole star.

Star Breathing Encourage Play Coping Skills for Kids

To make it easier, here’s a free printable for the shapes and numbers of deep breathing.

With prompts

For some kids, having a prompt is a helpful way to learn to breathe in and out. A few of my favorites are:

  • Breathe in like a flower, Breathe out like you are blowing out birthday candles
  • Breathe in blue sky, Breathe out gray skies
  • Arms up and Breathe in, Arms down and Breathe out (I love the body movement involved in this one!)
  • Breathe in and out like Darth Vader
  • Pretend your belly is like a balloon, breathe in and make the balloon bigger, then breathe out and make the balloon shrink

Next time you find yourself wanting to say “take a deep breath”, use one of these techniques to help teach and make it a little more fun.

Have a playful day!!

Looking for more ideas and products to teach your child coping skills?

Take a look at our sister site, Coping Skills for Kids!

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