“Breathing Sticks” Game for Elementary Students

I’ve really had some challenges this year teaching mindfulness in a combined 1st/2nd grade classroom. I can’t believe that sometimes I was actually intimidated by six and seven year olds.

But when I started the class with a game, and then gave them these “breathing sticks”, they loved the class.  We used the breathing sticks to breathe in and out for 12 breaths.

Directions for the Breathing Sticks Game


Materials: Pipe Cleaners and beads. Give each student 1 pipe cleaner and 6 beads.

Have them twist one end of the pipe so the beads don’t fall off, thread the beads, then twist the other end.

To Play:  Move all the beads to one end of the pipe cleaner. Invite the students to breathe in as they slowly move one bead to the other end of the pipe cleaner, matching movement and breath. On the exhale, move another bead. Repeat for the remaining beads, and if it’s going well, they can move the beads back, one by one, to the beginning.

Super easy. I tried it in K-2nd grades, and also in an after-school program with grades 4-8.

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Karen Barwick is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Program Director for the Minds Over Matter Initiative in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Karen works with K-8 students and collaborates with others to convey the power of mindfulness in business, educational, and community settings.  Karen graduated from our Year-Long program and has also taken the course on Difficult Emotions.

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