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Calm down! Be quiet! Relax! Kids are constantly loud and noisy this is normal. It’s nice to able to help them calm down with things other than your voice from time to time too.
I teach yoga and mindfulness to kids in a charter school, and…
we often have moments that are not so Zen.
How do I combat this?
Many ways. Glitter calm down jars are one of my favorites. I made a few my first year, and finally this year I remade them with a new recipe. I’m so glad I did because my new ones are so pretty!
Glitter calm down jars are so enticing and relaxing.
They are one of the very first things I tried when I started to teach mindfulness to my students.
I actually use plastic bottles, because yes, jars can break. Especially with over 350 kids at my school using them every week, the likelihood of breakage is high.
How can you use the calm down jars?
I have taught many breathing techniques to my students to use with the calm down jar. We trace our fingers, blow out pretend candles, smell the “flower,” use a Hoberman Sphere. and more.
Check out my full post on breathing techniques for kiddos here.
You can also join our Free Resources Library for instant access to the Breathing Card printable, relaxation guides, and free kids yoga lesson plans:
We sometimes shake a calm down jar and place it in the middle of the circle to watch while I ring a singing bowl.
They then have to decide which one took longer to be “complete”. (They vote silently by holding up a 1 for the jar or a 2 for the bell).
I also read lots of books on mindfulness to my students, our favorites are found here.
While we read, or while they read on their own they can hold a calm down jar to just look at and keep their hands busy while their mind is working. I actually feel like it really does help them listen better.
Calm down jars can also be reserved for “Take a Break” zones where kids can go to calm down from having really big emotions or feeling too anxious to learn.
You can have a calm down jar, a water timer, a beanie baby to snuggle, a fidget spinner, a breathing ball, and some breathing techniques cards for the kids to use until they are ready to talk about what they are feeling or rejoin the group.
Finally, as a teacher, I have used the calm down jar as a sort of “timer” to let kids know how much time they have left to clean up and get to their spot in the circle. It’s a motivator because they want to clean up quickly to get back and watch the swirling wonder before it completely settles.
So, if you know you want a mindfulness calm down
jar, how do you make one?
I had tried several recipes over the years and I finally came up with one that works really well and is super simple.
This recipe took less than an hour to make 12 jars one snow day this winter and it was a huge success.
What do you need to make a calm down jor?
I use these Voss plastic water bottles because they are just large enough and the cap comes down far enough to cover where there will be a small amount of air. Plus, they are very durable. I got the 500 mol size, which is perfect. Make sure you check the size before you buy on Amazon because they come in several options!
This pack of glitter is perfect because it has lots of beautiful colors and a variety of sizes of glitter.
I used a combination of the fine and chunky pieces in every bottle and it was excellent. You can also use glitter glue, but I found it is not as pretty as these bright and differently shaped pieces.
This is optional, but I find it’s nice to add a couple of drops to a few bottles. It depends what colors you have and if you want to make some more dense looking than the others.
I have found, after attempting with glue, glitter glue, and various oils, that using Glycerin is the perfect way to slow the glitter and give the calming bottles the effect they need.
When you add the right amount of Glycerin to each bottle you allow the glitter to be shaken up, swirl around, and then slowly settle back down to the bottom. I got a half gallon bottle since I was making 12 at once, but I probably could have gotten the gallon.
A crucial ingredient, a few drops of any standard dish soap helps keep the glitter from sticking together and clumping all at the top. Any kind will do, and just a few drops are generally enough.
This super glue is the best to seal the lids shut once you know you have the right combination of glitter and glycerin! You need the strong stuff, I promise.
How to mix the calming jar ingredients just right
- Prepare warm (not boiling!) water. You don’t want the water to be boiling when you pour it in the bottles or it will warp the plastic. Believe me, that’s happened to me!
- Select and add glitter to the bottle. I put in about a level half inch of glitter to start. Put the glitter in first, before anything else. Don’t add too much because it may clump and be stuck at the top after you add everything else. I chose 2-3 types for each bottle, usually two of the fine, and one of the larger variety.
- Fill the bottle halfway with warm water.
- Add glycerin until the bottle is 4/5ths full.
- Add 2-3 drops of dish soap.
- Close the bottle and shake it up. Evaluate the amount of glitter and glycerin, let it settle and see if you like the combination. Add different colors or types of glitter if you want, or remove some glitter or soap bubbles if you overestimated (normal!).
- You can also add food coloring or some small, light toys like a Lego person or a tiny animal.
Once you are happy with the combination of glitter and glycerin you can add more warm water and close the bottle for good!
I seal the lid with Gorilla Glue after a day of letting things settle.
And there you have it! Beautiful and calming glitter jars.
I made a whole rainbow and my students love them. Enjoy 🙂