Make a DIY magic zen jar to help calm kids and sneak in a little meditation practice | via barley and birch
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Make: Magic Zen Jars

Post-holiday time can be just as stressful for your mini vacation-revelers – and they can’t even choose to lose themselves in a Pinterest vortex as I did! ūüėČ With that in mind, we thought we’d share a little meditation activity today for anyone looking for their moment of calm (and extra zen points to get everyone participating). For more quiet mediation fun, add a tabletop winter zen garden to your list of family to-do’s as well.

These magic jars are SO. MESMERIZING. Photographing these literally took 40 minutes longer than it should have due to being caught in a hazy, dazed amazement. Explaining the what, why and how of meditation to kids is one of those things that can quickly spiral into a “what even just happened here…?” moment for everyone.

Make a DIY magic zen jar to help calm kids and sneak in a little meditation practice - via barley and birch
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The idea is that after you shake the jar, you just watch and wait…by the time all the glitter reaches the bottom (I timed mine to take about 1 minute) you will have found your happy place. The great magic of these “magic” jars is that your kids will be teaching themselves the practice before you even get started in on an explanation.

to make your own magic zen meditation jars you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*



  • Other fun stuff? (i.e. legos, little plastic animals, charms, etc)

These take about 5 minutes, so go crazy and make a bunch. I wanted a smaller, travel-size, travel-safe jar to give to a sweet little biscuit I know who has a fear of riding the bus – but you can use any jar you want (these were about 4″ tall and $2.99 for a set of 4 at our local craft store). Time to start throwing the goods in.

Magic zen meditation jar instructions:

  1. Fill a small jar with water and add glycerin

    Pro tip: the more glycerin you add, the longer it’s going to take the glitter to fall to the bottom – I’m going to give you MY recipe and you can alter accordingly…

    Start with 2 parts water (I filled roughly 2/3 of the bottle) and 1 part glycerin (I filled the remaining 1/3 with glycerin).

    DIY magic calming jars for kids via barley and birch
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  2. Add dish soap

    2 drops of dish soap will keeps the glitter from clumping and staying at the top!

  3. Add glitter

    Add Glitter to taste (not literaally!)¬† ūüėČ ¬†I put in about a tablespoon of regular, fine, and snowflake-shaped).

    Make a DIY magic zen jar to help calm kids and sneak in a little meditation practice - via barley and birch
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  4. Add other fun objects and screw the lid on tight!

    This is kind of an anything-goes project – ¬†like beads? Put ’em in. Have some Lego people lying around? Yup, into the drink. Old barbie shoes? Sure, yes, let’s do it. Pretty much anything small, durable and light enough can be added. You can also color the water with food coloring. After some test-shakes, if you’re afraid of a mess or your jar isn’t quite water-tight, add some non-water-soluble¬†glue around the rim and screw the lid on tight and let set.

After you’re done putting the jar together, kids won’t even need a prompt for what to do next. Sit back and watch them shake these up then completely zone out watching the swirl-y, glitter-y amazing-ness (like I did). Fun game: see how many of your adult co-workers have exactly the same reaction.

Make a DIY magic zen jar to help calm kids and sneak in a little meditation practice - via barley and birch
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This is a perfect opportunity to explain how these can be used – and actually, there are so many different ways. They can provide a sense of calm and be part of a scheduled time for reflection and quiet. They can represent worries or frustrations –¬†a good shake and some¬†consideration time go a long way to help little ones with those.¬†They’re a perfect time-out timer and can help divert angry energy, reset focus, and switch gears to quell tantrums or dissipate arguments.

For more meditation (& yoga!) ideas for your kiddos, check out our Pinterest board here. Suggestions? Questions? Pictures? Free Hugs? Leave a comment, send us an email or tag us on FB/Twitter/Instagram (@barleyandbirch, #barleyandbirch) !

*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Make a DIY magic zen jar to help calm kids and sneak in a little meditation practice - via barley and birch
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs, and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a freelance graphic designer and modern art curator.

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9 thoughts on “Make: Magic Zen Jars

  1. Teddy walker says:

    These magic Zen jars are awesome! My kids argue a lot,and these Zen jars really help. Thank you!

    1. amanda says:

      I love them as stress-busters, but hadn’t even considered them for calming arguments – sweet tip Teddy, thank you!!

    2. Kasia says:

      How quickly does the biodegradable glitter disappear when in contact with the water? How long would the bottle last with this effect? Is there any other eco-friendly way to have similar effect but longer lasting?

      1. amanda says:

        Hi Kasia – good question! Most biodegradable glitters are plant-based and need a combination of heat, water, oxygen and microorganisms to biodegrade. It typically takes months for these types of glitters to completely biodegrade in the ocean or in a landfill, so it should last in your bottle for quite awhile!

  2. Lindsay says:

    Hi!! I love this idea and have tried making them but I keep getting bubbles and suds from the dish soap. How much do you add? The bubbles are making it hard for my little one to see the glitter settle.

    1. amanda says:

      Hi Lindsay! I added two small drops of Dawn dish soap to the warm water and glycerin mixture. One thing that may help is topping off your bottle with water to push out any extra air. I filled ours to the top before screwing the lid on, and we didn’t have any soapy bubbles, so I’d give that a try!

  3. Julie Hanford says:

    Is it possible to make these without Glycerin, just water and a bit of soap?

    1. Hi Julie, I haven’t tried making these without glycerin, but you could give it a try! Just watching what happens when the ingredients are mixed, I would guess the glycerin is what keeps the glitter floating so it doesn’t fall straight to the bottom, so it may be fairly necessary if you want that effect.

  4. Ella says:

    Hi this looks really cool can a kid make all by them self

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