A Moment Of Intention
While ALIVE Outdoors is typically focused on bringing people together, we all know that now is a time for space. Space does not need to mean isolation and desolation. It can also mean growth, connection and embracing simplicity. For two decades we have been committed to helping young people learn the skills to thrive in this ever-changing world, and our hope during these unprecedented times is that we can offer you some ideas for moments of intention.
DISCLAIMER: You are welcome to use, share and edit any of the Intention Activities for non-commercial purposes. We are not the owners of this knowledge or significant parts of these activities and ALIVE Outdoors does not take any responsibility for how they are interpreted or used. All activities should be supervised by qualified and knowledgeable adults. The Moments of Intention activities are simply ideas we are sharing that we love and believe bring the opportunity to add a little intention into your day.
Here is one idea for you and your family to do at home to focus on being grateful. Put a Mason Jar in a place where everyone in your family can reach it. Put a small pile of small pieces of paper, and a handful of colourful markers in an accessible place. Pick a window of time where each person in the family (including the adults in your home) write down a few things they are grateful for that day. Write one thing per small piece of paper (similar to the size of a Post-It note). Fold it up, and drop it in the jar. Once it fills up over time, take some time together to sit as a family and read them together.
Tags: Gratitude, Mindfulness, Connection
Creating a vision board is a creative way for your brain to understand and recognize what steps and resources you will need to achieve your goals. The open platform of creating a vision board also fuels people’s need to express themselves in a creative and unique way. Making intentional steps and creating something that is a physical reminder of your goals also promotes positive thinking which will provide direction. Visualizing isn’t easy. It can take practice to develop the skill, but engaging in activities such as creating a family vision board helps to build and grow this tool for the whole family.
Tags: Reflection, Art, Expression
Create Your Own Billboard
Whether you are on city streets or driving by rural fields, you can find billboards. Billboards most commonly advertise real estate, a product or an approaching restaurant on the highway, they can also offer a platform for education, positive messages or creative ideas.
If you had access to a billboard, what would you put on it? What would your message be? What would you want the person seeing the billboard to learn, remember or feel?
Tags: Art, Expression, Connection
We all know the benefits of taking intentional moments to practice mindfulness and relaxation within our day. Making time to practice and understand the little skills or activities that help us achieve this balance is important. Here is an activity that may do more than just help us be aware and conscious of our breathing and the impact our breath has on our mood, hunger, and attitude. This activity centers around drawing your breath. It is a wonderful exercise to help practice mindfulness through our awareness of our individual breathing patterns.
Tags: Mindfulness, Reflection, Art
Have you always felt like you have quick reactions? Have you ever tried to measure your reaction time? Here is a quick and fun activity that you and your family can do to see how fast your reaction time really is.
Tags: Skill, Experiment, Game
Sometimes we feel so connected to the environment around us, yet only once we take the time to slow down and take a closer look at things do we see that there is so much more going on than we imagined. Here is a quick and fun activity that you and your family can do to explore your backyard and local community greenspace.
Tags: Outside, Environment, Game
Start Your Day By Making Your Bed
Some days, many of you may not even want to get out of bed, let alone make it, but it is great value in staying in some form of routine. Why making your bed is the most important way to start your day.
Tags: Mindfulness, Reflection, Skill
Spread Some Positivity
The other day I was walking my dog through my neighbourhood. On each streetlamp pole, down an entire block, there was a message of hope and positivity. It lifted my spirits immensely!
Tags: Gratitude, Expression, Art
The Art Of Origami
Though many of us have either seen or heard of origami before we may not have had the opportunity to try our hand at it. Here is an activity that you and your family can do to foster a new skill while also learning some of the meaning and history behind it.
Tags: Mindfulness, Art, Skill
The Hidden Value Of A Handwritten Letter
Today, for many of us, the main form of connecting with one another has shifted to sending an email, using FaceTime, sending a text, or making a phone call. Taking the time to sit down and write an intentional letter or card to someone has decreased in recent years. Letters are tangible. The crisp sound of pulling the letter from it’s envelope, the slight indentations where the writer pressed into the paper, the site of someone’s handwriting, all contribute to an experience, and not just a message.
Tags: Gratitude, Expression, Mindfulness
We are putting our sculpting skills to use! Time to get creative, using objects that you can find around your house transform them into a special piece of art.
Tags: Art, Skill, Expression
Minimalism may seem like a foreign concept to many of us, it certainly breaks away from our general North American orientation in favour of consumption. Learning about this technique and the underlying values will bring simplicity and deeper meaning to some of the items we have in our lives.
Tags: Mindfulness, Skill, Reflection
Create And Deliver A Toast
A toast is a small speech, even as short as one word, that highlights something that you believe in, that you are grateful for, to highlight or honour an accomplishment by a person or group, or simply spread goodwill.
Tags: Connection, Expression, Gratitude
Discover and share your world through your lens. In this activity, you are encouraged to be attentive to and document your environment.
Tags: Observe, Art, Environment
Does Spring Make A Sound?
Bet you didn’t know: The spring of 2020 had the earliest spring equinox (March 19th) that anyone alive today has ever experienced. The last time the spring equinox occurred this early was 124 years ago!
Tags: Observe, Environment, Mindfulness
Mapping Your Local Plants
Mapping the area around us is a great tool in becoming more aware and engaged with what’s happening in our local natural environment. Here is an activity that you and your family can do to deepen your connection to the natural environment around you.
Tags: Observe, Environment, Game
The Table Where Rich People Sit
Youth are faced with the daily challenge to decipher the core elements of happiness in order to understand success in their lives. The book, The Table Where Rich People Sit, challenges many of the traditional notions of success, redefining the idea of happiness to help us all chart a course towards living a fulfilling life.
Tags: Mindfulness, Perspective, Reflection
Art has continued to diversify and expand more and more over time. Though Food Art has been a practiced art style since the 16th century, in the 1960’s it expanded to include a new style called Eat Art. Here is an activity for you and your family to make snack time more creative and fun
Tags: Art, Skill, Expression
The Power Of One Small Thought
A single thought has the power to shape larger aspects of your life. Understanding your thoughts and thought patterns can help you fuel positive habits and end negative ones. Based off Lao Tzu’s quote, this activity will help you unpack your thoughts and deepen your understanding of self. It will also provide a space to intentionally create new thoughts that will help move you towards your goals.
Tags: Perspective, Reflection, Mindfulness
Meditative Drawing & Colouring
Whether it’s hunkering down with a cup of tea and a good book, watching a movie, listening to uplifting tunes, or engaging yourself in an artistic project, there are benefits to our mind. This activity is aimed at helping you find some calm. Some people call it meditative doodling, some people call it sketching without a plan, and other people just see it as lines, dots, shapes and colours on a page.
Tags: Mindfulness, Art, Skill
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Homemade Recycled Paper
Paper was invented over 2000 years ago and has continued to be a staple part of communication practices ever since. Since its invention, paper has been made from a wide variety of resources. Here is an activity for you and your family to create your own paper that is meaningful and resourceful.
Tags: Craft, Environment, Art
No matter the season or time of year, the natural environment is full of diverse and unique colours everywhere. What colours and how many different colours can you see out your window? In your yard? Or in your neighborhood? Find out by doing a rainbow walk.
Tags: Environment, Observe, Game
How Many Countries Are On Your Plate
Canada is one of the top ten importers of food in the world. This means that many of the food items you see in the grocery store are not grown in Canada, rather other parts of the world. How many countries are represented in your meal and how are they grown? This activity will help you and your family learn more about where everything you put on your plate is coming from.
Tags: Reflection, Observe, Mindfulness
Resources Of The Earth
From our houses to our favourite clothing, we are constantly surrounded by different materials and resources. All these materials originally came from the earth but have been manufactured and transformed. Here is an activity for you and your family to learn more about what type of resources we use daily.
Tags: Observe, Environment, Reflection
New Life To Old Vegetables
When cooking with any vegetable, we often discard parts of the plant in the preparation process, however, many of these discarded parts can be used to regrow the plant, reducing food waste. Let’s look at how this happens with Celery.
Tags: Environment, Skill, Outside
The Power Of Young People
To date, rising participation in environmental demonstrations, marches and clean up’s, exemplify a societal worldview change connected to the impact our actions have on the natural environment. Many believe that change can only be made by adults, however this is far from the truth, young people have great influence.
Tags: Connection, Mindfulness, Observe
Did you know that approximately 80% of all flowering plants require help with pollination. Bees are the top species that help spread pollen from plant to plant, strengthening the health of our ecosystems. Unfortunately, bees and other pollinator populations are declining as a result of habitat loss. Below is an activity for you and your family to help replenish bee habitat and increase their population numbers, ultimately helping our ecosystems thrive.
Tags: Craft, Environment, Connection
Fishful Thinking & Snack Trawling
Canada has 243,042 kilometers of coastline making it the longest coastline of any other country in the world. With such abundant access to the oceans, Canada’s fishing industry is one of the top 10 exporters of fish and seafood in the world. This activity allows you and your family to take a closer look at fishing industry practices and the impacts they have on their aquatic environments.
Tags: Game, Environment, Reflection
When resting, an average person takes 12-20 breaths every minute, that adds up to 17,000 – 30,000 breaths per day. We usually go about our days unaware of our breathing practices, inhaling and exhaling without conscious thought. Your breath has a much greater impact on your body and the way you feel than most of us think. Here are three breathing activities for you and your family to expand your connection to your breath.
Tags: Mindfulness, Skill, Reflection
Many artist’s from around the globe are inspired by the environment that surrounds them, and their finished products often have a unique story to tell. This activity will allow you to deepen your understanding of a piece of art by tapping into your artistic capabilities in a unique way – using objects around the house to replicate a favourite painting, sculpture, sketch, etc.
Tags: Art, Craft, Expression
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To better understand our atmosphere, meteorologists and farmers have been measuring levels of rainfall for hundreds of years. Having recorded rainfall levels over time, increases our ability to track weather patterns and droughts which can be useful when predicting future weather cycles, even natural disasters. This activity will provide you with the steps to make your own homemade rain gauge, deepening your connection to local weather patterns and natural environment.
Tags: Experiment, Environment, Observe
Richard Wagamese was a famous Canadian author, poet and journalist. He has written and published many works throughout his career, sharing his craft and rich stories with countless readers. Richard, along with many other writers, use a writing tool called Free Writing. This tool is used to help writers clear their mind and inspire deep-rooted thoughts that can be expressed on paper in unique ways. Free Writing is a tool we can use to strengthen our writing skills as well as deepen our sense of self.
Tags: Expression, Skill, Reflection
The compass was invented nearly 2000 years ago, following the discovery of naturally magnetized minerals. The first records of early compass use came from China, using the compass to align buildings and city structures as well as to look for rare gems and fertile farmland. Approximately 1000 years after the compass was invented, it became the main tool of navigation around the globe, which is still used today. Though the compass is an ancient tool, using household objects, we can make our own, following the same process as our ancestors.
Tags: Environment, Skill, Craft
Learning A New Language
Canadians use a multitude of languages to connect and communicate with one another. Though Canada’s two official languages are English and French, over 4.7 million Canadians reported speaking a different language as their main form of communication. Toronto is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world with 45% of residents speaking a language other than French or English. With approximately 200 different languages being used in Toronto, this activity focuses on the first steps to learning a new language, which can help us connect and deepen relationships with people in our communities.
Tags: Connection, Skill, Expression
Our daily lives are constantly shifting and changing. With each new day we are called upon to be flexible and to problem solve. These situations are often linked to things that are out of our control such as the weather or a sudden public transportation closure. With 48% of Canadians reporting that they feel stressed at least once a week, it is important to recognize these situations are often outside of our control. This is an activity for you and your family to further your understanding of what is in your control, and what is not. The hope is that it will allow you to better manage your moments of stress and understand where it originates.
Tags: Reflection, Perspective, Observe
From learning how to run, riding a bicycle or maintaining an upright posture in a chair, almost everything we do requires balance. Though increasing our balance skills are an inherit part of growing up, if we don’t take time to practice and strengthen these skills, they can quickly deplete. Here are a few exercises for you and your family to improve your balance skills, increasing core strength and overall body well-being.
Tags: Mindfulness, Skill, Connection
Have you ever experienced the feeling of defeat or feeling stuck? These feelings are often linked to not completing a goal or mastering a skill. We know that learning is a long meandering road of mistakes, reflection and growth and we need to train our mindset to encourage patience and appreciation. Here is a simple tool that you and your family can use to foster a growth mindset that focuses on encouraging the power of positive thinking.
Tags: Perspective, Expression, Art
When we consider someone family, it means that they have positively impacted our life and support us. No matter who you identify as part of your family, it is easy to forget to share gratitude for the most important people in our lives. Designating time for you and your family to reflect on the experiences you’ve shared together can deepen your relationships and understanding of one another. It can also help to resolve conflict. This weekend, reach out to your family (whoever they are) and express your gratitude using this activity.
Tags: Gratitude, Connection, Expression
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Everyone experiences different levels of stress. Whether it be a sudden change to our daily routine, facing a fear or meeting a deadline, stress is almost solely caused by external factors. Though we rarely have control over these external stress factors, we can decide how we react to them, as well as take action to support ourselves in moving through our stressors. As we all know, stress can physically effect our bodies, leaving our muscles tense and uncomfortable. Here is a relaxation technique for you and your family to calm your bodies and restore your muscles to a relaxed state, increasing body awareness.
Tags: Skill, Mindfulness, Observe
Can Paperclips Float?
Have you ever wondered how water striders and different aquatic bugs can walk across water? Engineers continue to study water in hopes to deepen their understanding of its unique properties. Water molecules are different than other liquids, building close bonds with each other, creating a significant amount of surface tension. This is how water striders and other aquatic bugs can walk across the water’s surface without getting wet. Here is an activity for you and your family to experiment with surface tension, expanding your perspective.
Tags: Experiment, Craft, Observe
The Roots Of Painting
Our unique connection to colours and shaping our environment has crafted a history of vibrant expression. In today’s market you can find a variety of different types of paint such as acrylic, enamel or latex. As you may know, some pictographs and paintings in Canada dating approximately 500 – 1300 years old, were created with paints that came from the natural environment. Here is an activity for you and your family to explore how paint can be made using a variety of food items from your kitchen.
Tags: Art, Perpective, Environment
Throughout history, mazes have been used by a variety of cultures for entertainment, to help people to achieve a certain goal, overcome a challenge or help obtain a desired mindset. Though mazes were most common in ancient times, they are still widely used today. Whether they be seasonal corn mazes, mirror mazes or mazes found on the back of a cereal box, searching for a solution is captivating. Here is an activity for you and your family to make your own marble maze at home.
Tags: Craft, Game, Skill
Mapping Our Hearts
We often don’t take the time to reflect about what we hold dearest in our hearts. When we start to take a closer look at the things we are most grateful for in our lives, it fuels our sense of self and appreciation for past experiences. These reflections help to also align our values and motivate us to look forward to experiences in the future. Here is an activity for you and your family to make your own heart map, creating a visual reminder to deepen your sense of gratitude and appreciation.
Tags: Art, Reflection, Expression
Mindfulness Sit Spot
As much as we try to structure and balance our daily routines, some days leave us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. Creating space for yourself to reflect and be present in the moment can help instill a sense of calm, fueling your awareness and appreciation of the little things that surround you. Participating in a mindfulness sit spot is an exercise that you and your family can use to refresh your mind and slow down for a period of the day, deepening your gratitude and connection to the natural environment.
Tags: Mindfulness, Outside, Reflection
Paper Towel Kaleidoscope
The kaleidoscope was invented in the early 1800’s by Dr. David Brewster in hopes of inspiring artists with unique pattern combinations. Since their induction, kaleidoscopes have influenced new designs in stained glass, jewelry, architectural patterns, wallpaper as well as woven tapestries and rugs. Today, it is commonly used as an intriguing optical classroom instrument all around the world. Here is an activity for you and your family to make your own homemade kaleidoscope, how will it inspire you?
Tags: Craft, Art, Observe
Homemade Natural Fertilizer
Most plants require up to 17 essential nutrients to grow and blossom, but depending on the soil type or quality, these plants may be lacking the nutrients they need. Manufactured fertilizers help to increase plant growth, loaded with these essential nutrients along with high amounts of phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. Though manufactured fertilizers are used to help manage and increase plant growth in lawns, gardens and farming fields, they also have negative consequences on the natural environment. Here is an activity for you and your family to make your own natural homemade fertilizer.
Tags: Experiment, Environment, Observe
Mandalas are geometric creations that have been used for thousands of years throughout various cultures. Their look and designs vary diversely, but their intention is the same. Ancient scriptures and writings illustrate mandalas as a symbol of deeper connection with one’s self and the universe at large. They also represent a period of reflection, restoring inner peace and wisdom with one’s self. You can create your own mandala using items found in your back yard or local green space. This activity offers a creative way to find peace and relaxation, in addition to radiating good energy.
Tags: Art, Expression, Environment
A sun catcher is a reflective ornament that uses sunlight to highlight unique designs, colours and features of the materials used to create it. Sun catchers are the optical equivalent to wind chimes, coming in a variety of sizes and incorporating different materials, shapes, and colours. Make your own dazzling sun catcher using materials found at home in your back yard or local green space.
Tags: Craft, Observe, Expression
At an average length of 10cm and weighing less than a pound, hummingbirds may be small, but they play a crucial role in our ecosystem. Their small size and active lifestyle requires them to eat half of their body weight in food daily, feeding 5-8 times per hour. Due to increased habitat loss, hummingbirds continue to struggle to find places to eat throughout the day, making populations decrease. This is an activity for you and your family to help create spaces for hummingbirds to eat and energize, supporting the increase of their population.
Tags: Connection, Environment, Craft
Who Helped You Grow?
Like the rings of a tree which mark growth and change, our lives are filled with people who have helped guide, shape and nurture our path of personal growth. Though these people and past experiences cast an array of emotions, we cannot deny that they have helped to shape who we have become. Expressing our gratitude and celebrating these people is a way of honouring your relationship, deepening your sense of connection to them and your shared experiences. Here is an activity for you to reflect on your rings of growth and the impactful people who have helped you along your path, deepening your sense of self.
Tags: Gratitude, Reflection, Environment
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Using chalk to create street and sidewalk art may be new to some yet it has a deep tradition in many parts of Europe, with its origins dating back to the 16th century. Street and sidewalk chalk artists have always used their talent to express themselves and evoke a feeling or message through their art. Here is an activity for you and your family to make homemade chalk. Sparking creativity and providing a platform for you to express yourself and share a message or feeling with those who walk by your sidewalk canvas. This is a great way to lift someone’s spirits and to spread positivity.
Tags: Art, Expression, Connection
Natural Leaf Bowl
Throughout history, people have always been drawn to decorating and shaping their living spaces to accommodate their needs and to allow themselves to feel at home. Using natural materials to decorate is a healthy way to reduce your consumption, be resourceful, and further develop your connection to the natural environment. Here is an activity for you and your family to make a natural leaf bowl, incorporating nature into your living space by using the resources around you.
Tags: Craft, Skill, Environment
Weaving, using yarn and other materials to craft unique and colourful designs, is a skill practiced all around the world. The methods used to weave various threads and yarns together result in diverse products such as clothing, tapestries, rugs, baskets, etc. Though some designs are quite complex, learning basic weaving skills can help to calm the mind and refine your ability to focus and pay attention to detail. Try your hand at learning these basic weaving skills, strengthening your mental focus.
Tags: Craft, Skill, Mindfulness
Spillikins, also known by its modern name Pick-Up-Sticks, is a game of physical and mental skill. With its origin dating back to the 1800’s, this game demands focus, a steady hand and coordination skills to remove sticks from a scrambled pile without the pile shifting or moving in any way. The game is played around the globe, using diverse resources including bones. Instead of buying the game, why not use natural materials found in your local green space or back yard to create your own Spillikins set? Here’s how!
Tags: Skill, Game, Environment
Although some days are filled with curve balls and stressors that we may not expect, there is often a silver lining. Creating space to reflect on our day and what brought us joy and comfort allows us to appreciate the moments and little things we are grateful for. Making a gratitude tree is a way to spend time at the end of your day to reflect and write down these moments of gratitude. Contributing to your tree over time creates a visual marker that will encourage you to keep a positive mindset and focus on the moments you appreciate.
Tags: Gratitude, Expression, Craft
Letting Go Of Worries
Worrying is a natural reaction to moments in our lives that are unfamiliar or that push us out of our comfort zones. When our lives are dictated by worry, it can impact our well being and set us back from taking chances or utilizing our full potential. It is easy to dwell on worry rather than take action to address it. Taking the time to reflect upon the root of your worries and practical steps towards addressing them will help you manage and eliminate worries as they arise in your life. Try this activity to see if it works for you!
Tags: Reflection, Mindfulness, Outside
For thousands of years, maps have been used as a tool to interpret geographical areas and navigate our way through the world. In the modern age of Google maps, the practice of creating hand drawn maps has decreased in popularity, however creating your own map is still a useful practice to deepen your sense of place. Follow this activity to create your own community map. You will connect with your neighborhood and be surprised at what you find that you didn’t see before.
Tags: Observe, Perspective, Art
Homemade Bird Feeder
The unique habitats and rich landscapes of Ontario make it a hot spot for over 500 diverse species of birds. Though there are many native bird species, over half come to Ontario during their migratory seasons. In recent years, industrial growth across the province has led to a significant decrease in bird habitat, resulting in population decline. Use this activity to create your own homemade bird feeder. It will help you deepen your connection to the ecosystem and support local bird populations.
Tags: Craft, Environment, Observe
At the root of all inventions is the need to make the tasks and processes of our everyday lives better, easier and more efficient. Are there any chores or parts of your daily life that you want to make easier? Feeding the dog? Watering the plants? Turning off the lights? Though some inventions are quite complex, many are more simplistic, using a number of diverse resources and linking sequences to complete a simple task. Try this activity to create your own sequenced invention, sparking your creativity and strengthening your tactile and problem-solving skills.
Tags: Experiment, Game, Observe
What are you looking forward to this summer? Learning a new skill, personal growth, enjoying the natural environment? There is so much we can do with our time, however; we often fall short of our aspirations because we don’t take the necessary time to plan. As you transition into the summer season, think about how you want to spend your time intentionally. Turning your thoughts into goals will help clarify what is important to you and articulate what you want to achieve. Look back on your summer feeling proud. This activity will guide you through your first steps.
Tags: Expression, Reflection, Observe