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It’s January and another jam-packed holiday season has gone as fast as it rolled in. I’ve noticed this post-holiday time can be stressful for kids readjusting to old routines (hard for some of us adults too). With that in mind, we thought we’d share the DIY for our magic zen meditation jar as a calming activity today for anyone looking for a moment’s peace.
Sometimes called “glitter jars” or a “calming jar” these magic mindfulness tools are SO. MESMERIZING. Photographing these took 40 minutes longer than it should have due to being caught in hazy, dazed amazement. The idea is that after you shake the meditation 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 – comfortable in your own stillness as you serenely watch the pieces of glitter swirl around and slowly sink.
Explaining the what, why, and how of meditation, mindfulness, or simply slowing down to kids is one of those things that can quickly spiral into a “what even just happened here…?” moment for everyone. The great magic of these “magic” jars is that your kids will be teaching themselves the practice before you even get started on an explanation.
For more quiet mediation fun, make some sensory play moon sand for a calming day at the beach. Add recycled peace gardens (with 5 easy kids’ relaxation techniques!) to your list of chill family to-do’s. Or sprinkle a bit of magic into your sleep routine with our DIY pixie dust aromatherapy linen powder.
To make your own magic zen DIY meditation jars you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A Jar or container with a water-tight lid (we used a small glass container)
- Hot water
- Glycerin (like this kind we used, or Wilton Vegetable Glycerin for smaller amounts)
- Dish soap
- Eco-friendly glitter like this kind, this kind or this kind via Universal Soul – 3 certified alternatives to standard ocean-harming glitter.
- Other fun stuff to throw in the mix (i.e. legos, little plastic animals, charms, etc)
- A Non-water-soluble glue (like gorilla glue) for a leak-proof seal
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.
How to Make a Calming Jar – DIY Instructions:
- Fill a small jar with water and add glycerin
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).
The more glycerin you add, the longer it’s going to take the glitter to fall to the bottom – you can start with my recipe and alter or experiment accordingly.
- Add dish soap
Two drops of dish soap will keep the glitter from clumping and staying at the top!
- Add glitter
Add Glitter to taste (not
literally!) I put in about 3 tablespoons total. Let your kids pick their colors of glitter or mix colors of their choosing.
A note about using eco-friendly glitter: most eco-friendly glitters are produced from plant cellulose, making them biodegradable. This kind of glitter requires microorganisms to eat away at the bits for the decomposition process to begin. Because our little bottles used treated tap water and were sealed, a closed environment was created and it took quite a while (months) to show any signs at all of decomposing. Elements like heat can also cause them to degrade, so leaving your meditation jar out in the hot sun may contribute to the faster decomposition of the glitter.
- 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 swirly, glittery amazing-ness (like I did). Fun game: see how many of your adult friends or co-workers have exactly the same reaction.
A few ways to use your magic zen meditation jar…
- These mindfulness jars 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 (and by the way, these work just as well as calming jars for adults too…!).
- They’re a perfect time-out timer and can help divert angry energy, reset focus, and switch gears to deescalate tantrums or dissipate arguments.
- A glitter jar actually makes a great timer for ANYTHING. It’s a great way for kids who might not fully understand clock-reading to visualize the passing of time. Watching the hand or numbers on a timer tick down and waiting for the loud “DING” can produce feelings of tension, agitation, and impatience. These magic zen jars produce the opposite reaction, and kids seem to thoroughly enjoy the change of pace.
- The mini size of the glitter bottle set we made works perfectly for travel anxiety or quelling frustration and short nerves during long car rides.
- Use your mindfulness jar for a quick and simple counting game. Make two or three jars that have different amounts of glycerine, then have “jar races” and count how many seconds it takes for all the glitter to reach the bottom.
Tools to use with your calming jar…
- Mindful.org has an incredibly helpful meditation jar script to use with kids to help them find their focus and better understand this exercise.
- I absolutely love the Headspace app (I’ve always just used the free version) and they’ve created a wonderful meditation program just for kids.
- This activity pairs so well with yoga of any kind, but this calm-down yoga series from Kids Yoga Stories is such a great match for our zen jars. I also like this garden yoga sequence for little ones (I’m such a sucker for garden-themed anything!) from Childhood 101. Both have provided free printable posters too!
- Not into yoga? Take a walk outside before or after a sit-down with your meditation jar and practice some deep breathing with a suggestion from this fantastic collection of kids breathing exercises from Coping Skills for Kids. Great for any age, really.
*A note about 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 Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. 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!