How can you teach kids mindfulness and help them learn to manage big emotions?

There are many ways to encourage kids to slow down and learn about their feelings. One of the most popular and effective ways is to make and use a glitter calm down jar.

Kids are constantly loud and noisy – this is normal. It's nice to be able to help them calm down with things other than your voice from time to time.

I teach yoga and mindfulness to kids in a charter school, and…

We often have moments that are not so Zen.

How do we combat the craziness in a classroom?

Calm down glitter jars are one of my favorite ways to help kids find calm and to relax.

I made a few in my first year of teaching, and finally this year I remade them with a new recipe. I'm so glad I did because my new ones are so pretty!

Three mindfulness calm down glitter jars in green, blue and purple made at home to help kids practice mindfulness

Mindfulness glitter 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.

It's important to use plastic bottles, because yes, jars can break. Especially with over 550 kids at my school using them every week, the likelihood of breakage is high.

We also practice breathing exercises , play partner mindfulness games, read books, listen to the singing bowl and practice lots of yoga.

How to start using a Glitter Jar with kids

  • Tell your kids that sometimes we have really big feelings.
  • Your mind may feel swirly and mixed up because you are mad, angry, confused, sad, or something else.
  • When you have these feelings, you can take a mindfulness break, watch your feelings, and then let them settle.
  • Breathe with whatever is going on, be still and watch your big emotions as they gently float down.
  • Just like your big feelings, shake up a glitter jar and watch it swirl all over, crazy-like.
  • Then set the jar down, watch it swirl, and breathe.
  • As you breathe and are still, the glitter starts to slowly settle and become calmer.
  • Watch until you can see through the jar again.
  • We don't want our feelings to disappear, but we don't want them to block our view of what is really going on.

There are many different breathing techniques you can 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 this full list of breathing mindfulness techniques for kids here.

Here's video of kiddos explaining mindfulness and how they use a calm down glitter jar to help them notice and let go of their big feelings.  (Courtesy of Mindful Schools)

We sometimes shake a calm down jar and place it in the middle of the circle to watch while I ring a singing bowl.

My favorite singing bowl is here.

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.

How do you make a mindfulness glitter jar?

  • Get some chunky glitter
  • Pour it into an empty bottle
  • Add some fine glitter
  • Pour in glycerin (or glitter glue)
  • Add warm water
  • Stir well with a few drops of soap

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 on one snow day this winter, and it was a huge success.

But you have to know a few key tricks to make them look really beautiful.

What do you need to make a calm down glitter jar for kids?

Plastic Voss bottles (500 ml)

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 (although the cap may get a crack if it's dropped, if you glue it shut, it won't leak). I got the 500 ml size, which is perfect. Make sure you check the size before you buy on Amazon because they come in several options!

Drink the water (hydrate!) and peel off the two stickers.  They should come off easily, but you can use a blow dryer to help if you are having trouble.

Glitter Variety Pack

This pack of glitter is perfect because it has lots of beautiful colors and a variety of sizes of glitter.

Use a combination of fine and chunky pieces in every bottle for excellent results.

You can also use glitter glue, but it is not as pretty as these bright and differently shaped pieces.

This nail glitter works really well too and is also really chunky.

Food coloring

This is optional, but you can add a couple of drops to a few bottles. It depends on what colors you have and if you want to make some denser looking than the others. 

I don't usually use it in my recipe because I have found that the combination of fine and chunky glitter is colorful enough.

Glycerin (or Corn Syrup!)

I have found, after attempting with glue, glitter glue, and various oils, that using Glycerin is the perfect additive. It helps to slow the glitter without making the water cloudy 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 since the pack of glitter I got lasted a lot longer than I expected.

Corn syrup works really well too, and is a much cheaper and easier-to-find alternative. I like these options best because they are clear, which allows the glitter to show through better.

After lots of comments and a few more trials, I have also had great success with Karo corn syrup! It is thick and clear, like glycerin, and a bit easier to find :). I get it at the grocery store in the baking aisle. The ratio is about the same as with the glycerin, maybe use just a bit more corn syrup.

Dish soap

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.

Gorilla Glue

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.

Don't use a lot because it expands and runs down the edge of the bottle as it is drying!!


The free stuff is best, warm it up in the microwave in a glass bowl first or use hot water from the tap.

How to make a glitter jar for kids, step by step:

1. Prepare warm (not hot!) water.

You don't want the water to be boiling when you pour it into the bottles, or it will warp the plastic. Believe me, that's happened to me!  Just warm water from the faucet works well.

2. Select and add glitter to the bottle.

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. It works well to chose 3-5 types for each bottle, usually two of the fine, and one or two of the larger variety.

start with glitter in the bottom of the dry empty plastic voss bottle

3. Add a little bit of water and shake gently

Swirl up the glitter to help prevent clumps!

how to make a glitter calm down jar, first add glitter, then a little water to swirl it up

4. Add glycerin until the bottle is 1/4 to 1/3 full (approximately) 

I did less and more with each bottle since I made a lot and wanted the “speed” of the glitter to be different. In this one, you can see the glycerin is about as high as the glitter containers, and I really liked the outcome.

how to make a mindfulness calm down jar add glycerin to the glitter water mixture to about a third of the way

5. Add water until the jar is almost full

Leave some space at the top still to add more glycerin if needed and to properly stir it later.

add water with the glitter and glycerin in a calm down jar

6. Add 2-3 drops of dish soap

Not too many, because you can always add more! It tends to get bubbly if you add a lot, but the soap helps disperse the glitter.

how to make a glitter jar with glitter and glycerin and soap

7. Close the jar and turn it a few times to mix everything up

Gently shake to see the consistency of everything. 

Then carefully open it again and take a look. 

See how the glitter is stuck at the top?  That's ok, I found a solution to that! Keep reading!

how to make a glitter mindfulness calm down jar for kids with a plastic bottle

8. Stick your finger in and give it a good swirl around

Gently stir and mix it up, wiping your finger on the inside to keep as much glitter in as you want. In a few instances, I removed some glitter and foam manually, but it was no big deal. 

This gentle stirring works best with your finger and not a utensil because the natural oils of your hand help separate more than a metal fork would. Fancy!

Notice how the glitter is more evenly spread out as I stirred? Messy but fun and effective.

how to make a green glitter calm down jar for kids

Hopefully, now the glitter is nicely dispersed!

At this point, you can choose to add food coloring or some small, light toys like a Lego person or a tiny animal. I just kept mine as is, but you can let the kids choose.

9. Close the cap again, shake it a little more, and check out how slow or fast the glitter settles

green and gold glitter mindfulness jar for kids

10. Top it off and glue it shut.

Once you are happy with the combination of glitter and glycerin, you can add more warm water or glycerin and close the bottle for good! 

Use gorilla glue or a hot glue gun to keep it tightly closed. 

Make sure to use SMALL AMOUNTS of gorilla glue because it expands and can leak down the edges of the jar! (Also learned from experience 😬 )

This beautiful green and gold jar reminds me of St Patrick's day and Ireland. I wrote a post on Celebrating Ireland with Yoga poses… check it out πŸ™‚

And there you have it! How to make a mindfulness glitter jar for kids!

Beautiful and calming mindfulness glitter jars.

I made a whole rainbow and my students love them. Enjoy!

rainbow of glitter calming mindfulness jars lined up in a row

Don't forget to grab the recipe and the Mindfulness teaching tips here:

Get a printable version of the Mindfulness Glitter Jar recipe!

Plus my top tips on how to teach kids mindfulness.

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    Need more activities for a rainy (or snowy) day with kids?

    Also, check out my brand new Kids Yoga Games Bundle!  Five different printable yoga games for kids with 24 pose images and descriptions.

    Oh the fun! Yoga games for kids, five printable yoga games for kids, plus pose descriptions and tips for teaching

    (Post updated February 2023)


    1. Loved reading this post. I will try this with my 2.5 year old. Being winter here, she is getting very bored staying inside . I am sure we both will enjoy it? By the way, what is gorilla glue? Is it something similar to the hot glue?

      1. Thanks for reading, Ria! And yes, the glitter jars are fun for kids AND adults πŸ˜‰ Good question: Gorilla Glue is more like super glue, it comes in a bottle and is VERY strong. I’ve actually made some calm down jars and sealed them with hot glue and my 4th graders opened them in like 0 seconds… So I use the strong stuff now! I’ll edit it above to include a link! I know you can find it on Amazon. Have a fabulous day πŸ™‚

        1. Ohh..okay! Thank you for clarifying! I just saw the Amazon link you have included. It is pretty cheap. I might buy one. ?

          1. A blow dryer on low if pointed right at the label will dissolve the glue and allow you to gently peel off the label. Careful not to make temp too high so you do not cause damage to the plastic. This is very easy way to remove price labels or any stickers on furniture or walls. A child placed stickers on a child’s plastic vanity and using this method completely restored the piece!!

        1. Hi Taylor!

          I had this problem as well. The soap is really what helps disperse the glitter. Add a couple of drops of soap to the bottle before you shake it the first time, and you can more if needed. Make sure you don’t add TOO much dry glitter at the beginning. Also, you can substitute with some clear glitter glue instead if you want more glitter but it is getting too clumpy. The first few bottles I made I had to scoop out some glitter that remained at the top because I’d just added too much. I hope this helps!

          1. Hey again Taylor,

            I just updated the post with new images and an extra step for how to fix the clumping glitter.

            Hope this helps! πŸ™‚

    2. Hi there thanks for this post. I used a couple of drops of dish soap and it just foams up around d the top. Is there an alternative? Many thanks πŸ™‚

      1. Hey Sarah!

        I had the same issue a few times as well. I ended up putting the drop of soap in at the very end when the jar was nearly full. Honestly, just one drop of the soap is usually enough, but if it does foam up I just scooped it out and gently added a little more of the glycerin to top it off. Hope this helps!

      1. I found a six pack of Voss water at Walmart in the section with all the bottled water. The labels came off easily at room temperature.

        1. Thanks for the help, Kathleen πŸ˜‰

          Yes, many major box stores sell Voss water bottles, the plastic ones work best. I have even found them at gas stations! I prefer to buy them in bulk from Amazon, though, there is a link above that will take you to the kind I buy.

        1. Kolleen,

          I think I end up with about 1/4 of the bottle being glycerin, maybe close to a third if I want the glitter to move more slowly πŸ™‚

    3. Can you use something besides glycerin? I found clear hand sanitizer with glycerin. Would that work?

      1. Hi Judy!

        I’ve never tried hand sanitizer with glycerin and I don’t know if it would be thick enough to slow the glitter effectively. I have used glitter glue, which works pretty well (I found a pack at the dollar store), but you have to use quite a bit of it. I think I used 4-5 tubes per bottle to get it slow enough.

        You can also use clear glue (not the white kind), which I didn’t really care for either because it made the glitter clumpy sometimes. But I know that works pretty well if you don’t have glycerin.

        Hope this helps!


    4. Does the glycerin mix in with the water? Or is it more of an oil and water type bottle where the glycerin will rise to the top?

      1. Hi Kim!

        Sorry I missed this before! The glycerin will mix nicely with the water. I have NOT found that they separate over time…and there are times where the glitter jars have gone unused for a week or more and they still are just fine!

        Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

    5. For the amount of glitter that you bought in that pack, how many bottles do you think could be made? I see that you made nine bottles, but did that use up all of the glitter? We will be making 650, so I’m trying to guesstimate how much to buy. Thanks!

      1. Hi Jennifer,

        Thanks so much for your question! I would say I’ve made at least 18 with this pack so far, and I think I could probably make about 8-10 more, given that I like the larger glitter for each jar. There are 10 containers of the larger chunky glitter and I can make about 3-5 bottles per individual container so that’s approximately 30 jars per package, maybe more!

        Hope this helps you estimate! Also, I’d really appreciate if you used my link to purchase them, that would help me out a ton. Thank you!! πŸ˜€

    6. Hi! My coteacher and I absolutely love these. We teach 4th grade in Laguna Beach, CA. We have been practicing mindfulness all year, and we are super excited to try your recipe for these jars this week! I used the links and purchased everything you suggested. We have two gallons and glycerin and two of the 30-packs of glitter for 60 jars. The BEST part so far has been drinking all the water! I never buy Voss b/c it’s so expensive! Haha! Thanks for the recipe; we will post pics when completed!

      1. Thank you, Marie! I’m so glad you tried it! And yes, the Voss water is ridiculously delicious πŸ™‚ I hope the glitter jars turned out! Send a photo if you can!

    7. I made these today with a small anxiety counseling group of elementary students. They loved making them (so did I!) I used clear glue in place of glycerin because I was in a hurry when shopping and couldn’t find it. It worked well. I used a plastic knife to mix instead of my finger. I skimped on the glue a bit, mainly because it was taking too long to squeeze out and we were on limited time, so the glitter settles fairly quickly but it’s not bad at all. I didn’t have any of the clumping issues and they are really pretty! I made an extra for myself to keep on my desk. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe!

      1. Hi Stephanie!

        Great to hear! I’m glad the clear glue seems to be working pretty well also. Thanks for sharing how you did it and I’m glad you made yourself one too πŸ™‚

    8. Made one tonight for my daughter! I could only find (locally) a 6oz bottle of glycerin so I used the whole thing. The glitter settles way too quickly but I already sealed it….also, she wanted a night sky theme and we added small silver stars, but I think we needed much bigger stars for them to really stick out. All things I learned for the next one! Thanks for the recipe!

      1. Hi Paula!

        So glad you tried the glitter jar recipe! Night sky them seems perfect. Yes, I need to find a few more options of larger chunky glitter to use, just to give more variety. Glad you found the recipe helpful, it’s always a bit of an experiment though πŸ™‚


    9. Thank you for these instructions! I’m actually have my older yoga kids (3rd and 4th graders) make their own. It was helpful to have the list of things I needed and instructions written out. I already made my own and love it!

      1. Hey Jenny,

        Yes, thank you! I have heard that as well and will try it on my next batch of calm down jars πŸ™‚ Much appreciated!

    10. I’m making a bottle for me, I wanted to find silver stars and moons, but I can’t find them. If I don’t glue the bottle do you think I can add them when/if I do find them later?


      1. Hi Autumn,

        Yes you can definitely add glitter later to your bottle if you don’t glue it shut. I would recommend leaving a couple inches of air at the top of the bottle too, so when you do at the glitter you can still stir it up and then add more water. Good luck!

    11. I discovered by accident that ‘instant snow’ powder is great for slowing the fall of the glitter. I overdid it initially, adding perhaps a tablespoon, which nearly filled the bottle with ‘snow’. I was able to squish most of it out and make the jar work really well. One of the students making jars with me decided that it would be best to rehydrate the snow before adding it to the bottle. With just a little in the mix, the water appears clear- not snowy.

      1. Hi Wendy,
        Oh wow that’s really cool! I’ve been thinking of experimenting with other calm down jar ingredients and this in particular sounds fun. I’m glad to know it also works as an ingredient to slow the glitter. Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚


    12. Hi Maia,
      I really enjoyed reading this post, especially your explanation part about how to use glitter jar with kids. I would like to add a link for this post in my post. Thank you for helpful resources.
      If you want to know where you can find my post, I can give you the link once I finish writing the post πŸ™‚

      Thank you.

      1. Absolutely Angela! Thank you for checking :). Would love to see the post if you’ve made it!

    13. I had the same issues as everyone else…glitter clumping at the top. I did a couple of test bottles… looked great until I added the dish soap, and then it clumped immediately. I decided not to add the soap and it’s just fine. Also, I ended up just using about 3/4 full glycerin and it’s perfect. Keeps the glitter in solution better and settles perfectly, although it does settle at the top, but some stays in solution and it works so much better than it was with the dish soap.

      1. Good to know, Katrina, thank you for letting me know! I’ve found that just 1 or two drops works, and then I mix it with my finger, haha. But glad to know you found a solution too! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    14. Is the glycerin you use marketed as β€œvegetable glycerin”? Or am I looking for a different product? Want to be sure I buy the right product before I attempt these with 3 grandchildren!

    15. Thank you for this post! The way it is written – very clear language – and the photos, is just perfect. It was very easy to follow the directions.
      We found Voss lookalike bottles at Michael’s craft store and the glycerin was harder to find (none at Michael’s, Target or Walmart), finally found it at Walgreens, Africare 100% glycerin in the hair care aisle.
      Someone told me that the Calm Down Jar helps those with dementia, so I googled how to make them and your post came up. My very hyper kiddo, my mom (she has end stage dementia) and I made these yesterday afternoon. The only thing I would add to your post is to put down a drop cloth or cover the table with plastic wrap or something… the glitter was e v e r y w h e r e. But that was probably more due to my project partners than anything else. πŸ™‚ The end result was BEAUTIFUL. My mom used glitter butterflies and my daughter filled hers with glitter stars. I am a snowboarder and I am so excited to make my own filled with the glitter snowflakes I bought! And then I think I’m going to make a bunch of these and drop them on friends’ porches. πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for this post!

      1. You are welcome! And yes, great idea on the newspaper or plastic wrap to put down before you start, definitely got glitter everywhere too! Thanks for the tip πŸ™‚

    16. I’m so glad I found this! I’m going to try it with my new class when school starts again.

      With your recipe, how long does it take to dissolve back? I’m looking for a β€œtimer” like bottle that can last 2-3 minutes.

      Thank you!

    17. Thanks very much for the detailed instructions. I tried it out but I’m having some difficulty with some of the glitter staying at the top (I used clear glue so not sure if that would make a difference but it sounds like other people have had success with glue). Interestingly, it seems to be the bigger glitter pieces that go to the top. If I move the jar gently (not shaking upside down), it then starts to fall after all the other glitter has settled. I tried adding dish soap, a bit at a time but it wasn’t helping and I got to the point of having too much soap and having to scoop out the suds. Some of the glitter seemed to start to fall when I opened the jar so I played around with how full the bottle was in case it had something to do with air bubbles but no luck. I tried swirling it with my finger and it worked a bit to get the glitter to fall but then the next time I shook it up, the same thing happened and the glitter stayed at the top. Am I supposed to stick my finger in every time I shake it to get the glitter to fall? Any tips on what I could try differently?

    18. This was so easy to make. My toddler loves it and it has definitely helped calm her down when needed. For those looking to make this, just make sure you have a bottle that closes tightly. Let’s just say, we had a little mess on the carpet. But it was nothing our carpet cleaners couldn’t fix. Thanks again for this great DIY.

    19. Added a bit too much soap so there is the foam. I left it in since I was doing a ocean then. It made it look like the sea foam on the waves. However when my 3yo shakes it it gets a little more foamy. With the foam eventually dissipate over time? Or is it just how it is? Also I already glued it shut. Lol

      1. Lol, well yep, I think it should dissipate over time… πŸ™‚ Hopefully it did! If not, I’m a fan of making several and seeing how they compare πŸ˜€

    20. How do you get the sticky residue left from the Voss label off? I’ve tried the products that usually work, Goo Gone & De Solv It, oh and coconut oil without success. Blow drying was best as it pilled up some but still some residue left.

      1. I tried Orange Oil for removing the glue residue from the Voss bottles after leaving my last post. I works wonderfully and smells good too!

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