exercises

Mindfulness for Kids and Teens – Calming Glitter Jar aka Mind Jar

The Calming Glitter Jar is a great tool for calming down and a fun craft project to do with your child. The Calming Glitter Jar is a proven mindfulness tool and it can help to relax both kids and adults of all ages.

Also, the Calming Jar offers a practical way to “meditate” with a kid who doesn’t want to sit still. The idea is that your child can learn to use the jar on his own when he’s experiencing difficult emotions.

We made five calming jars with my three-year-old son this week. It was so much fun!

The Calming Jar helps children to:

learn focusing skills,
calm down,
and figure out that paying attention to their senses helps them regulate emotions.

Sensory Awareness

I’ve both practiced and taught mindfulness for years, but I’m still amazed at how the simple act of paying attention to my senses has such a strong calming effect.

We can pay attention to what we smell, touch, hear or see. Whenever we bring awareness to what we are experiencing with our senses, we are being mindful. When we do this simple act, our minds calm down.

Why does this happen?

The short answer: when you pay attention to your senses, you shift your focus away from your emotions and thoughts. Instead of worrying about the future or the past, you focus your mind and reduce the brain chatter. It’s simple and very powerful.

When you understand this, you can help your child calm down in various playful ways. Here’s one of my favorites.

mindfulness-for-teens-and-kids-calming-jar-5-jars

MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS AND TEENS – CALMING GLITTER JAR

Purpose: Emotional Regulation, Calm, Focus
Best for ages: 3+
Materials:

  • Small jar (make sure it will hold liquid tightly)
  • Clear glue
  • Glitter (any colors you like)
  • A few drops of food coloring
  • Hot water
  • Whisk or a stick

mindfulness-for-teens-and-kids-calming-jar-materials-2

Directions

Warning: you may need to use your mindfulness skills to stay calm when your kid disperses glitter all over the place ;-)

This is a great tool for calming down and it’s simple to build. Depending on the sort of glue you use, you may have to experiment to get the consistency just right for you. That’s part of the fun. You can experiment with about 20% glue, 80% water, and add as much glitter as you feel comfortable with. The more glue you use the longer it will take for the glitter to settle after shaking the jar. You can use clear school glue and glitter, or glitter glue and add some more glitter to get the effect you want.

1. Pour glue and hot water (tap water is okay) into the jar and mix with a whisk. The glue gives the liquid a different thickness and makes impressive swirls of glitter.

2. Add some glitter. You can start with 1-2 tablespoons of glitter. I prefer to combine both chunky and finer glitter. For a pink jar I used red hearts, purple, pink and iridescent glitter. Iridescent glitter will give a nice lighter look, so be sure to try it out.

3. Add a drop or two of food coloring to give it more excitement.

4. When everything is blended, put the lid on and give it a good shake so the glitter is dispersed throughout.

5. Then let it cool without the lid.

6. You can secure the lid with super glue.

Try it out together

When you’ve built the jar with the glitter, you can explain the purpose of the jar.

Shake it and tell your child that sometimes our minds are full of thoughts, swirling around like the glitter in the jar.

Sometimes we experience angry thoughts. Sometimes sad thoughts.

Tell them that it’s okay to have strong feelings but that we can calm those thoughts and our bodies as well.

One way to do this is to let your thoughts settle like the glitter in the jar. When our minds are calm it’s easier to work out problems and to talk about whatever it is that is causing us to be upset.

Shake the jar up until the glitter is spinning wildly. Then set it on a table or the floor and calmly watch it with your child until the glitter, and your minds, are all settled down.

mindfulness-for-teens-and-kids-calming-jar-steps

That’s it!

Here’s a three-minute how-to video from Emilie …

… and another glitter-tastic four-minute how-to video from Annelise & Rachel (with lots and lots of glitter)

Want to take it to the next level?

5 awesome calming jars to inspire you

1. Beautiful “Hush Bottles” by Genny @ InLieuOfPreschool. Check out how Luke and Lilah use the bottles to calm down!
hush-bottles-calm-down-solution

2. A wonderful snow globe glitter jar by Cori @ HeyLetsMakeStuff

snow-globe-calming-glitter-jar

3. A high-end illuminated calming  jar by Danlynne07 @ Instructables

4. A jellyfish in a bottle by Sue & Gokk @ Bhoomplay. It’s pure awesomesauce! No glitter? Maybe add some ;-)

5. The Lava Lamp by Rebecca @ TheCraftedSparrow

diy-lava-lamp

Happy crafting! I hope that your family will enjoy this proven mindfulness tool. May you be happy and healthy!


See also:

Gratitude Tree

The Raisin Meditation

If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide:  How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide  


Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of BlissfulKids.com and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.

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2 Comments


  1. Eleanor

    February 19, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    This is such an awesome project. I would use these also as an illustrative tool on an adult psychiatric unit to accompany cognitive behavioral & dialectical behavior group (plastic bottles of course). I still use it now in individual sessions, but it can be tailored more to their issue since it’s only the one person in the room. My angle has a bit of a trance quality- summarized “shake it like crazy, let all those thoughts go all over & at top speed…gathering more energy as it continues to swirl, to jumble…notice how cloudy, how foggy it is, with everything bumping against each other…notice how you can’t see anything on the other side of the jar due to all that activity…Now gently set it down and notice what begins to happen to each piece of glitter, each one of those thoughts…they each begin to slow down, each begin to lessen in their energy…they don’t disappear, but they settle…and as they settle, we see more clearly, and the images, the goals, on the other side become more clear, and the answers we already have become noticeable, now that all that energy has settled…” Lead that into a deep relaxation exercise reinforcing a place of calm & focused energy allowing for problem solving and achieving desired outcomes. Clients (adults & kids) really appreciate the calm. I have encouraged people to make their own and add it to a “chill out box” or “chill out space” and incorporate into regular practice. Some of the jars I used had objects on the inside (like a snow globe) so the wording would just be changed to reflect object on inside instead of ‘on the other side.’ Meditation and relaxation exercises can be challenging for some, but having a tangible object in hand can help ground & guide an exercise. In the DBT spirit, the more senses an object can engage, the more it can redirect stressful emotions, uncomfortable body sensations, or disturbing thoughts.

    • Chris Bergstrom

      Chris Bergstrom

      February 20, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Hi Eleanor,

      thank you so much for sharing this! It’s truly inspiring to learn how you’ve used calming glitter jars in therapy. I love the way you guide clients through the exercise.

      Best,
      Chris


Hi, we are a bunch of moms and dads who practice and teach mindfulness, relaxation, and meditation. We believe that mental processes such as awareness, attention, emotion regulation, compassion and positivity are trainable life skills. We blog to help you and your family thrive. Enjoy a happier, healthier life, and connect better with your family and the world! Read more about us here.