Mindfulness for Kids: The Zen Garden

Here's a quick parenting idea on supporting mindfulness at home through use of a Japanese Zen Garden.

The Guidepost Team

Japanese Gardens, or zen gardens, use natural materials like rocks, moss, and shrubbery to mimic the natural world in soothing designs. Your child can benefit from working in their very own zen garden with just a few materials to get started!

To create a small tabletop garden, find an appropriately sized tray or box top for your table space. A tray with steep sides and handles works great to allow your child to work with their garden at any time, and the raised edges will contain the sand.

Here are some common objects found in Japanese gardens that you can purchase in a craft store, pet supplies store, or on a nature walk!

  • Rocks of varying size, shape, and color
  • Sand
  • Moss, like the kind used for fairy gardens
  • Rakes(forks!) or twigs for creating designs

Less is more for your tabletop zen garden. Introduce a flat sand surface to your child and explore the designs you can make with a special tiny rake, fork, or twig. Mimic the flowing lines of water, like a river running all through your garden.

Next, let your child place rocks or moss around the garden in different arrangements. Part of this experience is also feeling the different textures of sand, rock, and moss.

If possible, keep the zen garden in a place where your child can access it at any time. Complementary to the notion of a "Montessori Peace Table" in a classroom, it can be helpful to use these at home as part of a defined quiet area where mindfulness is modeled and practiced.

During the summer, you can expand your zen garden outside and add larger plants and real rakes!

A Japanese Garden is not only a great sensory experience for children, it is a calming, meditative activity that doesn't require too many materials or upkeep. A few simple, natural items can help create a wonderful learning experience.

Meet the Author

The Guidepost Team

The Guidepost Team is a group of writers and educators dedicated to helping demystify all things Montessori.

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