10 Calming Activities for Wind Down Time

Here are 10 simple calm down activities for kids to help them unwind at the end of the day or play with just before bed time. We all need some moments of peace and quiet in our busy lives, and this helps both parents and children. 10 calm down activities for kids


We all know about that time of the afternoon when kids become tired, fractious and increasingly grumpy before dinner and bedtime. Depending on how many kids we have and what are circumstances are, it can be really hard to battle through until bedtime. I know I’ve let out some serious groans and raised my voice too many times when they start to squabble and whine, and counted down those minutes until bed way too many times!

This collection of play activities should all have a calming effect as the children engage with them, mainly due to the lovely natural herbs and relaxing motions they involve. I hope they help a little! Pin your favourites indiciually for future reference too.

Lavender Play dough Recipe

This is gorgeous and we all know the subtle power of lavender to induce calmness and sleepiness. Pushing, squeezing and modelling with play dough is a great stress reliever in and of itself too. Get them to take out their squabbles in the dough!

Lavender play dough recipe

Lavender Scented Sensory Rice

This gorgeous method for colouring and scenting rice uses all natural lavender picked int he garden. If you don’t already have some planted somewhere I strongly recommend it because it is great for all those ideas plus attracts butterflies and is really hardy. Pouring rice has a mesmerising, calming effect and relaxes me every time.Lavender scented rice for calming sensory play

Chamomile Play Dough Recipe

Another wonderfully scented play dough recipe, this time using natural chamomile for calming effect. This is lovely when played with using natural materials to explore too.

Chamomile play dough recipe for calming sensory play

Rain Stick

A rain stick is a lovely craft to make together and then store ready for the crazy-hour, as the sound it makes when turned over is wonderful! Kids can’t help but keep on turning it over and over, listening to the gentle sound until they calm down.

DIY rainstick tutorial

Discovery Bottles

Discovery bottles are another lovely resource to have on hand for calm down times. Filled with glitter, beads pom poms and more, the liquids and objects move slowly when turned and kids can focus on them as they do so. Teach them to take deep breaths while they watch the objects moving and they should relax in no time!

How to make DIY discovery bottles

Rosemary Water

Not strictly relaxing, but beautifully scented, adding rosemary to water make a wonderfully aromatic water play time. Playing with water is also so relaxing as they pour between containers, stir with spoons and dip their hands in to cool down their bodies.

Rosemary scented water for sensory play

Threading beads

Threading beads or cut straws onto pipe cleaners or string is an activity that requires focus and attention, thus calming as they sit quietly and concentrate. They can make some jewellery or a key ring while dinner is cooking!

Threading beads on pipe cleaners fine motor activity

Blow bubbles

Blowing bubbles, whether for a younger sibling or just for themselves, is instantly calming as it requires focus and deep breathing. Of course it beings giggling and jiggling too, but hopefully still in a happier way than their mood might have been in before!

Blowing bubbles calm down activity

Make a reading nook

One of our favourite, low-effort ways to play and unwind is to throw together a reading nook with sheets and blankets. Toss in some cushions, blankets and a basket of books and they can lie down together to browse through them and rest their bodies.

Reading nook for kids

Lavender scented sensory salt

More wonderful lavender scented sensory play with this lavender salt. We have kept this for 2 years and it still smells good and is just as soft and fine to play with, rake and pour. Adding forks and trowels turns it into a mini zen garden, which is engaging to play with.

How to make Lavender scented sensory salt

I hope there are some ideas to help here!

If you would like to browse our huge collection of Sensory Play ideas then start here.




  1. holly says

    What wonderful ideas for all children but extra special for those with ADHD….we use what I call fairy juice (lavender oil) on the side of my kids temples. I’m going to make some lavender play dough for my boy to play with at bed time also. Thankyou

  2. Lizzie says

    Great ideas, any suggestions for a defiant, strong-willed, reactive toddler who will most likely tip out the sand and throw the bottles on the floor?

    • Kris says

      Lizzie – something that works for me is for me to get out the toy/activity and start to play with it myself (as if it’s actually for you). Then the kiddo will notice it and take interest – thus making it their own idea to play with it, instead of yours. :)

    • Liz says

      LOL I had the exact same question, except it would be eat the sand and throw the bottles at his brother! I’ll definitely try playing with it first myself *fingers crossed*

      • Valerie says

        Some ideas for you and Lizzie:
        First, know before hand that there will be a mess to clean up and that it is OK. If you can remain calm regardless of your child’s actions, it helps to keep you from over-reacting. Set it up so that if it gets dumped you can easily turn it into a clean up game or get a toy tractor to clean up the ‘mess’ so that they can be part of fixing and feel successful. START with less sand so you can add more as they are successful (see below).
        Second, talk about it in advance or find some pics on the internet of other children playing and using the item (sand tray in this instance) appropriately. Sometimes, children just need a little advance notice of what to do with something. When they are using it appropriately, lavish them with lots of attention – talk to them, touch them gently on the arm or back (whatever your child prefers), ask if they would like more sand! If they start to play inappropriately, do not say anything just gently remove the tray and STAND UP – that way if they jump for the tray you are less likely to drop it. Remind them in quiet tones that they can play when their body is quiet – hands down, feet on floor, bottom sitting in the chair – and if they cannot calm down just put it away and move on. Do NOT focus on the behaviors that upset YOU because it will only encourage them to continue and ONLY give them the tray back when they are calm. You want to encourage the calmness and ignore the boisterousness for this activity.
        Third, remember boys need LOTS of activity. Be sure they have other outlets for this NEED:) Rough and tumble play is important for boys physical and emotional development. :)
        Hope those ideas help a little.

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