Time: 40 minutes.

One of the five ways to well-being is ‘Take Notice.’ What does this mean?

The New Economics Foundation says: 

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

Finding a quiet space or time in the day for peace and calmness is important for our well-being. This can sometimes be difficult when you are at home with family, in school or having a busy day.

This activity enables you to design a small place in the house, classroom or school grounds to encourage calmness and reflection.

Example of a Mandala for task 1 ©

Jane Yates

Task 1: Make a peace mandala

Resources you will need:

  • A selection of natural objects, such as leaves, flowers, sticks, sand, pebbles or water.
  • A flat tray or surface
  • A quiet corner in your house, the classroom, school or grounds where you can sit comfortably 
  • Creativity and some personal space for calmness.
  1. Working on your own or in small groups, agree a good place for the activity. It does not have to be big. Find where you can sit comfortably. 

  2. Clearing – remove rubbish or obstacles to make a flat surface, or use a tray. Take your time and visualise, clearing away any worries or fears while you do it. 

  3. Collect objects that you like and individually or as a group, choosing one to go in the centre.

  4. Focus on the detail. Try rolling a piece of paper into a tube, looking at the object through the tube and drawing just the tiny part that you can see. You could also make your hand into a tube by slightly opening up a clenched fist and focusing on an object through that. 

  5. Make a mandala. Mandalas are circles. They exist everywhere around us; in the flowers, in seashells, in fruits, in snowflakes! They can be used to help calmness and meditation and are lovely to make. Working on your own or together, build your mandala from the centre outwards and use repeating patterns.

  6. Now practice some peaceful meditation. Sit comfortably and focus your eyes on the centre of your mandala - feel your breathing slow down. Move your eyes outwards and leave any worries outside the circle. Let your eyes return to the centre and close them. When thoughts bubble up, focus your eyes again on the centre, breathing slowly and gently. Try to do this every day. Refresh your mandala or create another when you need to. 

  7. Visualise your peace mandala.  Use your memory to create an image in your mind of your peace mandala, so you can visualise it when you are in a different place. Drawing or describing your peace mandala can be helpful memory strategies, or you could play a game where a partner takes one object away and you have to guess what is missing.  

  8. Reflect on your peaceful meditation. How did you find making the mandala? Was it meditative, quieting, peaceful or calming? How can you use the mandala next time you are feeling upset or overwhelmed? Why is peace important?

You could add other items to your peace place, such as wind chimes, dream catchers, a small dish of water with floating petals or painted pebble patterns. Try to practice some peaceful meditation for at least a few minutes each day.  

You can join in with the pupils as they create their mandalas. Share the process with colleagues and encourage them to create their own as well.

Mandala is from the ancient Indian Sanskrit and represents wholeness and life. You can find them in many traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Native American traditions, Judaism, and more. Mandalas are circles.

Task 2: Design a peace garden

Peace begins in our homes, families and communities. Learning to solve conflicts in peaceful ways is one of the biggest global challenges.

World Peace Gardens have been made in cities throughout the world to encourage communities and countries to work peacefully together. The International Peace Garden Foundation website has some examples.  

Design a peace garden for your community.

What would it have in it?

How could you make it peaceful?

Think about all the senses and how you could use them to make the peace garden a sensory experience.

Partner school linking activity

Share photos of your mandalas with your partner school. Explain some of the items you included on your mandalas. Are there ideas you will now include in your mandala based on what your partner’s ones look like? Can you incorporate something meaningful or representative from your partner’s culture? 

Co-design a peace garden with your partner. Consider what is peaceful and relaxing for them. Does this differ for you? What details have each of you focused on?

Differentiation for SEND

This activity is suitable for learners of different needs. However, you may want to consider the safety of the objects you use, or provide a scaffold of a circle, or ensure that the space can be accessed by students with limited mobility.