I think you should have fun while learning mindfulness skills. When my son was five years old, we invented a fun mindfulness game in which we “meditated” to Smooth Criminal, Beat It, and Billie Jean AND we had a great time. As my son, Anton, focused intently for 15 minutes, we were mindful of music and specific sounds to develop listening and attention skills.

You can do the same with one child or an entire class, and I bet you’ll have fun being mindful! All kids enjoy music, and all you need is a device to listen to it!

With this mindfulness game kids, teens and grown-ups can develop:

focusing skills,

listening skills,

and discover that focusing on their senses actually helps them relax.

Before you continue, I thought you might like to sign up to get notified of my upcoming NEW mindfulness GAMES book, which includes tens of fun mindful games.

So here’s what we did with my son …

Michael Jackson’s songs contain lots of amusing sounds.

We identified three funny sounds that were easy to spot:

Michael goes “Meow!”

Michael sounds like a cat (lots of those in Smooth Criminal.)

Michael goes “Ow!”

Michael sounds like he steps on a Lego, that’s what Anton says anyway :)

Michael goes “Wow!”

Michael does a lot of wow’s in Beat It and Billy Jean for example.

Okay, so then we decided that the first person to notice the sound gets a point.

As an example, when I hear Michael sing “Meow!” I get one point for signaling it with a thumbs up.

Then, at the end of the song, whoever has the most points wins.

This is a lot of fun, and you can do it with any song. Just make sure to choose songs that you both enjoy.

Here’s a detailed explanation of the entire game:

Mindfulness Games for Kids – Musical Thumbs Up Game

Purpose: Sensory awareness, Mindfulness of sounds, Focus, Listening skills

Best for: Ages 5+, groups or one-on-one

What you need: A selection of music

This activity teaches children mindful listening skills while they enjoy music. The goal is to teach children to focus on sounds and notice a variety of details.

Step 1: Choose music that is appropriate for your children’s age. When working with adolescents, you should first ask them what they want to listen to. Trying out different genres, such as country, rock, classical, and jazz, is a fun way to identify differences in styles and how they affect their feelings.

Step 2: Listen to the music ahead of time so you can plan what you want them to notice.

Step 3: The game is super simple. You play a song and ask them to focus on it. Instruct them to listen to the song and give it a thumbs up when they hear a specific sound. For instance, when they…

  • hear a particular instrument
  • hear the drums begin to beat, hear the drums stop beating
  • hear a singer’s voice begin or end
  • hear a particular word or “meow”
  • notice that the music affects their feelings in some way
  • feel uplifted by the music
  • feel calmed by the music
  • feel the music make them feel sad or anxious

To begin, keep it simple by selecting only one trigger per song.

Step 4: When you’ve finished listening to the music, ask them if it was difficult to stay focused. Were they able to notice whatever you chose to have them focus on? Were they able to return their attention to the music if their thoughts wandered?

That’s it :-)

I hope you’ll enjoy this activity with the kids!!


Sign up for my upcoming NEW mindfulness GAMES book, which includes tens of mindful games. It’s going to be a fun book and it will empower you to teach mindfulness and executive function skills through movement, art, dance, music, nature, food, crafts and all of your amazing senses.

Click here to sign up for a chance to be part of the launch team, review the book and get it for free.

Wishing you many mindful moments!

With gratitude,

Chris Bergstrom

Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids

Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, a leader in the field of mindfulness, and the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a community of parents, educators, and therapists dedicated to children’s mindfulness and psychology, with over 15 years of experience facilitating meditation and psychological interventions to people of all ages.

Chris is a certified mindfulness facilitator, trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12, and has received psychology and mindfulness training from UPenn, UCLA, UNC, Mindful Schools, and Mindfulness Without Borders.