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Calming Jars: Starting mindfulness practice with my kids

July 1, 2014


I found this idea on my Facebook newsfeed, but it’s really from a book I own and have lots of good intentions to read:  Planting Seeds, by Thich Nhat Hanh, about introducing children to mindfulness practice.  As my kids get older, I am going to talk with them more about how the bottle mirrors the concept of mindfulness practice:  that as our feelings swirl inside us, they can make us feel all stirred up, but as we breathe and focus on calming our bodies, our minds also clear.

I like metaphors.


For now, my kids love the sparklies, and it really does work as a calming mechanism when they’re upset.  Sometimes they ask for the “calming jar” (even though it’s really a bottle); sometimes we hand it to them when they’re agitated.  Last night, one of the kids was mid-sentence when someone unconsciously shook a bottle; this kid stopped and stared at the glitter for a moment before returning to their conversation.

It’s not miraculous, but it does work sometimes, and I take what I can get.


For making your own, I used this website and this one, but like most stuff on the interwebz, instructions were a little vague.  (One other website said something like, “Take glitter glue.  Add water.  Stir in some glitter.  Shake.  And you’re done!”)

In my experiments, using too much glue made the solution so viscous that it took forever to clear.  My successful recipe looked like this:

  • about 2 Tbsp., or 1/3 of a 6 oz bottle of Elmer’s glitter glue
  • 2-3 Tbsp. glitter (I used some of our neighbor’s, so I didn’t measure, but this amount could probably vary quite a bit)
  • very warm water
  • SuperGlue


  1. Pour glitter glue into desired container–if opening is narrow, use a funnel.  (I used smooth water bottles with the labels taken off, and one tall bottle that Nicole kindly got for us somewhere.)
  2. Pour in glitter.
  3. Pour in warm water to fill about 1/3 of the bottle, and swish vigorously.  This helps the glue not congeal.  Fill the rest of the way, leaving some room at the top.
  4. Once you have your desired consistency, SuperGlue the cap on.

If you wanted your glitter to take longer to sift down, use a bit more glue or a bit more glitter, or both.  Ours take about 90 seconds to fully sift down, but that’s about our kids’ attention span at the moment.



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