Resources for Parents

Looking after your Heart, Body and Mind during the Covid-19 Restrictions

Barnardos has quickly adapted to the current Covid-19 pandemic to continue to support children and their families, and we want to provide you and your children with the opportunity to check in with your Heart, Body and Mind regularly throughout this situation.  

There are lots of fun activities listed below to keep your children engaged, and activities that the family can do together.  It is important to remain positive and engage with our children every day in a positive way.  

It is also important that parents take care of themselves during this time. You will also see our Wellbeing for Parents section below, providing parents with tips on how to check in and be kind to themselves.  

Listen to Jenny explain this new holistic Heart, Body, Mind approach to our work in the video below.


Heart Activities

The heart activities focus on understanding and managing feelings. These activities will support your children to foster feelings of kindness for themselves and others. Together you can help your child to learn more words to describe their feelings and support the daily practice of recognising how things make us feel.

  • New! -Feelings Sing along-Hokey Pokey

    Fun for all the family! Sing along to this song with a twist! Using the different feelings, act out these feelings on your faces whilst you’re singing along.

    Recommended for all ages, for younger children, use this time as an opportunity to sing to the music which babies and toddlers will enjoy!

  • New! - Feelings Book

    Help your child to create a feelings book. Support them to cut out pictures of different faces displaying different emotions and help them create a story based on the faces they choose.

    Remember to get your child to show what each feeling looks like on theirs and your face as you create your book together.

    Recommended for ages 6+

    Feelings Book

    Create a “feelings book”, cut out pictures from old newspapers and magazines of lots of people’s faces with different expressions and feelings on them. Practice the feelings faces/expressions as you find them.

    It is important that we can name our feelings and recognise these feelings on people’s faces.

    Remember ALL feelings are ok!

    Materials needed:

    • Paper
    • Old News Papers and/or magazines
    • Glue
    • Scissors
    • Markers
    • Stapler

     

    Instructions:

    1. Gather together some old newspapers or magazines that might be around your house.
    2. Have a look through them and pick out people’s faces, choosing a mixture of different expressions and feelings
    3. Cut out the faces and group them into feelings categories e.g. Happy/smiling/laughing or Sad/crying/frowning
    4. Take your paper and staple some pages together or punch a hole in the middle and use some string to hold them together
    5. Start to create your feelings story, make up a story based on the feelings faces you have cut out.
    6. Call or FaceTime some of your family and read them the story you have created.
  • Simon Says Feelings Game

    We all know how to play Simon Says! Why not try this new version, where we have to act out a feeling. The whole idea is that we take turns in listening to one another and it gets us thinking about feelings. Recommended age 5+ years

    Play a game of Simon Says, with a FEELINGS twist!

    This is to help us practice naming different feelings and what we look like when we feel that way.

    Instructions:

    Play the game with your family who live in your house OR you can play this game on FaceTime/Zoom/etc to other members of your family or friends

    Choose who will go first calling out the directions. They must replace the usual Simon says directions with feelings phrases. For example, say: “Simon says, look happy” or “Simon says, look angry”

    After they have shown you what that feeling looks like on their face, ask them what makes them feel that way? For example, “What makes you feel excited?”

    Here are some feelings examples;

    • Happy
    • Sad
    • Loved
    • Upset
    • Angry
    • Frustrated
    • Excited
    • Proud
  • Finger Painting Feelings

    Finger-painting can be an excellent stress-reliever. The experience of using your fingers to create something fresh and new can be very uplifting emotionally and psychologically.

    Everyone can benefit from this activity so why not try it together?

    Download our easy two-page PDF instructions here.

    Recommended age 6 months +

  • Feelings Meditation

    This is a short guided meditation about feelings from Louise Shanagher's Children’s meditation series.

    Ask your child to say hello to their feelings and remember that all feelings are ok.

    Recommended for ages 6+

    Listen

  • How Do You Feel Today?

    This is a feelings chart from RewardCharts4Kids.com. Read through the feelings with your child and together practice what each feeling looks like on your faces.

    Ask your child how they feel today and what is making them feel that way? This is something that can be practiced every day.

    Recommended for ages 6+

  • Loving Kindness Meditation

    This is a short guided meditation from Louise Shanagher to support your child in allowing them to be kind to themselves and think of kind wishes for others.

    Recommended for ages 6+

  • A Kind Note

    This activity is about connecting with others who we haven’t been able to see in a while.

    Ask your child to write a Kind Note or draw a picture to a family member or friend they haven’t seen in a while.

    Follow this one page guidance to help you.

    Recommended 6+ (can be adapted for younger children).

  • Draw What You Love

    Ask your child to draw some of the people/places/things that they love. 

    Talk to them about what makes them love them so much? Encourage your child to tell those people how much they love them today.  

    You can use this one page template from Maple Leaf Learning, or any blank piece of paper to complete the activity.

    Recommended ages 6+

    For younger children parents could use pictures from magazines or photos that children could stick onto the sheet.


Body Activities

The Body activities are divided into breathing activities - activities to provide children with an opportunity to focus on the body and connect with the present,  and muscle relaxations - activities to help children release tension from their bodies to increase their sense of calmness. (TIP: The best time to teach a breathing technique is when the child is calm.)

  • New! - Rainbow Rice

    Follow these simple instructions and get the Rainbow Rice Effect! This activity uses our sense of touch. Playing with different textures can help us feel calm.

    Recommended for age 3+ (Supervision required for younger children)

    Rainbow Rice

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of uncooked Rice (Per colour)
    • ½ teaspoon of water (Per colour)
    • 15-20 drops of Food Colouring of choice (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple)
    • Sandwich bags (Resealable bags)

     

    Instructions:

    1. Place 1 cup of rice into each bag
    2. Mix ½ tsp of water + 15-20 drops of food colouring per colour.
    3. Zip up the bag and shake shake shake until the colour has spread evenly (If you need to add more colouring and water do that now)
    4. Place the rice out onto a piece of parchment paper or tin foil and allow to dry
    5. Repeat with your other colours
    6. Once completely dry you can mix all the colours together in a storage container or lunch box
    7. Now enjoy the rainbow rice effect!! Rub your hands in between the rice, cup the rice and move your hands in and out.

    Benefits:

    • Improves fine motor skills
    • Get used to different textures
    • Explore different colours
  • New! - Deep Breathe Like a Blowfish!

    Follow along to this short video and practice how to deep breathe like a blowfish. Taking a big deep breathe in and filling up your lungs, then breathing out slowly.

    We can become masters of deep breathing if we practice every day and this can help us relax and feel calm.

    Recommended for ages 5+

  • Belly Breathing

    Try this guided meditation by GoZen with your child to help them practice more belly breathing.

    Breathing deeply helps us feel calm and relaxed.

    Ask your child what parts of their body move? Ask them how they feel after?

    Recommended 6+ years

  • Tissue Dance

    Dance like nobody is watching! Here’s an activity that’s sure to get our bodies moving, all you and your child need is a tissue and some music. Give it a try!

    Recommended for all ages (See adaptations below for younger children).

    This activity can be done on your own or as a game with other family members

    Materials needed:
    • A tissue
    • Music

     

    Instructions:
    1. Have everyone put a tissue on their head before you play any music.
    2. Then start the music and begin dancing, but don’t let the tissue hit the ground.
    3. If you are trying this activity on your own, see if you can dance to a whole song before the tissue falls.
    4. If you are playing as a family and the tissue starts to fall, you can put it back on your head. However, if you miss and the tissue lands on the floor, you are out!
    5. Last one with a tissue on their head wins!

     

    Adaptations for babies and toddlers

    The movement element of this activity is the most important part. Having music playing, dancing and encouraging children to move is the key. For young children, clapping hands to the beat or making different musical sounds is a sure way to get them moving.

    Remember, dance like nobody is watching!

  • Finger Breathing

    Encourage your child to follow along to this video, where Barnardos Project Worker Stephanie demonstrates how to do a simple mindful breathing exercise just using your hand.

    Finger breathing can slow our breathing down and make us feel calm. Ask your child how they feel after?

    Recommended ages 6+

  • Cosmic Yoga Adventure

    Get your child to choose one of the Cosmic Yoga Adventures videos below, from Cosmic Kids Yoga.

    Encourage them to follow along to the video and see what adventures are in store for them when they use their body to help.

    Ask your child how do you feel after their adventure?

    Recommended ages 3+

    Minecraft Yoga Adventure

    Trolls Yoga Adventure



    Frozen Yoga Adventure


  • Balloon Breathing meditation

    This is a guided meditation to help your child learn how to belly breathe, from Louise Shanagher's Children’s meditation series.

    Breathing deeply helps us feel calm and relaxed 

    Ask your child how they feel after? 

    Recommended ages 6+ 

    Listen

  • Spell Your Name Physical Education

    Exercise is really good for our body, heart and mind!

    Get all the family together and get those bodies moving by spelling out each letter of your names doing the different exercises below. Make a game of it!

    Recommended ages 3+

    Spell Your Name Physical Education (PE)
    • A - 5 Jumping Jacks
    • B - 5 Jumping Jacks
    • C - 10 second high knees
    • D - Hop on your right foot
    • E - Hop on your left foot
    • F - 5 squats
    • G - 5 second crab walk
    • H - 10 jumps
    • I - 5 sit ups
    • J - 10 second run in the same spot
    • K - Kick your right leg in the air
    • L - Kick your left leg in the air
    • M - 5 push ups
    • N - 5 Jumping Jacks
    • O - 5 Jumping Jacks
    • P - 30 second high knees
    • Q - 5 second hop on your left foot
    • R - 10 Jumps
    • S - 5 second crab walk
    • T - Hop on your right foot
    • U - Hop on your left foot
    • V - 5 second hop on your right foot
    • W - 5 squats
    • X - 5 sit ups
    • Y - 5 push ups
    • Z - 10 high knees
  • Tense And Relax

    Encourage your child to follow along to this video from Go Zen Online, practicing tensing and relaxing the muscles in their body.

    Tensing and relaxing our muscles can make us feel calm and energised.

    Ask your child what they noticed when they relaxed their muscles?

    Ask your child how do they feel after doing this activity? 

    Recommended ages 6+

  • Flower Breathing

    Encourage your child to follow along to this video, where Barnardos Project Worker Stephanie demonstrates how to do a simple mindful breathing exercise by smelling a flower.

    Ask your child how they feel after?

    Recommended ages 6+


Mind Activities

The Mind activities will support children to have an awareness of their own thoughts and learn how to increase positive thoughts. They will help the whole family be more present with eachother.

  • New! -Project Worker Aoife O’Reilly Reads A Very Hungry Caterpillar

    Listen to Aoife reading a very hungry caterpillar today and follow along to the story. Watching what happens to the Caterpillar at the end of the story. Can your children guess what happens to him?

    Recommended for all ages

  • Story Time Cuddle

    Story time for the whole family! At a time when we can’t cuddle everyone we want to, listen here to one of our Project Workers Katherine reading us the Cuddle story and think about who you could cuddle in your imagination!

    Recommended for all ages.

  • Ancient Forest Mindfulness

    Listen to one of our Project Workers Amanda taking us on a journey through an ancient forest in our minds.

    Practice breathing, calmness and stillness all whilst imagining an ancient forest sanctuary.

    Recommended 5 +

    Listen here

  • Monkey Mind Meditation

    This is a guided meditation from Louise Shanagher's Children’s meditation series.

    Explain to your child that sometimes our minds can be like busy monkeys, jumping around and with lots of thoughts.

    Encourage your child to follow along with this Monkey Mind Meditation and help calm our monkey mind when it is bouncing around.  

    Recommended ages 6+

    Listen

  • All About Me

    Ask your child to write about themselves. Explain to your child that they are unique and special. It is important for children to learn positive self-talk.

    Parents can practice this one for themselves too. Download the worksheet from Big Life Journal for this exercise.

    Recommended ages 6+

  • Mindful Listening Meditation

    Mindful listening can be something we all struggle with at times. Today is your opportunity for the whole family to practice this together. 

    Follow along to this mindfulness video and learn how to mindfully listen.

    This video from Louise Shanagher's Children’s Meditation Series uses sounds to help us focus our attention.

    Recommended ages 6+

  • Sensory Spring Walk

    Being mindful means being in the Here and Now. Take a Spring Walk and ask your child to take note of the things they can see, hear and smell.

    Here’s a handy one page guide to help support them with this.

    The whole family can go on the sensory spring walk, and you might consider doing the guided activity with ages 3+

  • Back In My Day Activity Sheet

    Support your child to phone a grandparent or other relative and ask them questions from this activity sheet from Twinkl. You can also copy the questions down onto your own sheet of paper.

    Taking the time to learn more about those around us helps us truly connect to them. You might learn something new!

    Recommended ages 4+


Wellbeing for Parents

This section is for parents to focus on themselves. We know parents lead very busy lives and in particular during this current Covid-19 pandemic, parents might be very focused on the wellbeing of their children. This is a gentle reminder that it’s ok to mind yourself too, in fact, it’s important that you look after yourself so you can be completely present for your children.

  • COVID Pyramid Poster By Tara Smith

    Stay Well, Care and Share, Plan and Prepare-During these difficult times it is important to remember we are all experiencing similarities and differences in our situations. Whatever stage you are at that is OK! We are all in this together!

  • Baby Bonding

    Watch this short video of one of our Project Workers Ruth explaining Baby Bonding. You can practice it with your infant/toddler or child today.

    Follow allow with Ruth by downloading this Head, Heart and Hands Baby Bonding tip sheet.

  • Sesame Street

    You’re doing a great job! Listen to Elmo’s dad telling all parents how well they are doing and reminding them to take a moment for themselves to breathe.

  • I Can/Cannot Control

    There are some things we CAN control and there are some things we CANNOT.

    This image from The Counseling Teacher helps us to remember the things that are in our control and the things that are not, especially during this stressful time.

  • Growth Mindset

    Read through the 25 affirmations below from Big Life Journal.

    Read one to yourself every day or print it out and hang it on your fridge so every time you open the fridge you take a positive message too.

  • Just One Breath

    Give yourself a moment to focus on your breathing, helping you feel calmer and relaxed and more present in your body.

    Use the instructions and on the image below from Big Life Journal to help you.

    Instructions:

    1. When you wake up
    2. Take a moment
    3. Notice how your body feels: Are you tired/achy/refreshed
    4. Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths

  • Tense And Release

    Sometimes we don’t realise we are even tensing our muscles.

    Actively tensing our muscles and relaxing them can give us a real sense of relief.

    This exercise from Big Life Journal can be done throughout the day even when we are busy.

  • How Do I Feel Today?

    It is just as important to check in with ourselves and ask ourselves how we are feeling, like how we do with our children.

    Throughout your day check in with yourself, notice how you are feeling, write a kind note to yourself or remind yourself what you love.

    At some point during your day…
    • You can think about this and keep it too yourself
    • You can draw your feelings
    • You could use a worksheet to distinguish how you feel in this moment
    • Draw what you love
    • Right a kind note/letter to yourself

    Gentle Reminders to yourself;
    • I am here
    • I am experiencing this moment
    • I am well
    • I am strong

Parent Supportline

Barnardos has launched a national telephone support service for parents in response to the challenges they are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This service will be staffed by Barnardos project workers who are trained professionals.

Barnardos Parent Supportline