Making a “Mind Jar” for Kids!

A “Mind Jar” is a relatively simple tool for helping kids (and adults) appreciate mindfulness.  This past week I offered some suggestions to the school counselors for the local district and I made some mind jars to share.  A few participants asked for the recipe, so I promised I would post it here!

IMG_0111A Mind Jar can be shaken, and it is filled with glitter.  The glitter represents how busy our mind and body can be with thoughts and physical sensations, such as anxiety and worrisome thoughts.  For kids, shaking up the mind jar is way of expressing how they feel.  Watching the glitter slowly settle and noticing the breath while doing so teaches kids a way of self-regulating their emotions, and allowing thoughts or reactive tendencies to settle…..just as the glitter settles.  Eventually, we can see more clearly through the jar, just as we teach ourselves to allow the mind to settle, we “pause” and learn how to respond to a situation more skillfully, rather than impulsively react.

After a few minutes, the jar looks more like this:IMG_0113

Pretty cool!  This is obviously a glass ball jar, but any container can be used.  I’ve experimented with peanut butter jars and various plastic containers.  Glass is easiest and clearest, but plastic may be more practical for kids, especially for tiny hands.

So, what’s the trick?  It’s not that difficult to make, nor is it an exact science, but here are my guidelines (and I’d love to hear what you learn as you try it yourself!).

Choose your container(s) and heat enough water to fill the container almost to the top (quite hot water, but not boiling).   When water is heated, ideally in a large measuring cup, add a lot of glitter glue (any color) and whisk it so the glue doesn’t clump.  Essentially, add glitter glue as well as any combination of colors and textures of regular glitter.  Add a few drops of a clear dishwashing soap (like Dove) and a far amount of glycerin (this thickens the water and makes the glitter drop more slowly).  If you can’t find glycerin at your local craft store, I’m told that light colored corn syrup also works well.

Now here is the in-exact science of it:  Put the lid on tight after you’ve poured your mixture over into the mind jar container.  Shake it up and decide for yourself if there is enough glitter, too much glitter, and if the solution is thick enough to suit your liking.  If you want to make adjustments, pour the solution back into a mixing cup and adjust the thickness and amount of glitter.  Just repeat until you are pleased with the way your Mind Jar “behaves” when you shake it up.  When you’re satisfied, use a super glue adhesive to seal the lid on tight and prevent leaking (or a child opening it up!).  And voila!

Have fun with your Mind Jar!   Adults love them too…….

This entry was posted in Emotional Health, Mindfulness, Stress, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Making a “Mind Jar” for Kids!

  1. Melissa says:

    This is great! I can’t wait to make some and try them out! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lori says:

      Thanks for your comment Melissa! Good luck and have fun making a mind jar! Please post your suggestions and experiences so we can all learn from each other. Warmly, Lori Boothroyd

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  3. Trish Collins says:

    I tried this today, it went really well. Tanks for posting this clear ‘recipe’ ~Trish~

  4. Why use glitter glue, and what happens if i don’t?

  5. Lori says:

    Hi Krystle, thanks for your post. It’s always worth experimenting, but the glitter glue seems to help “slow down” the settling process a little bit. Plain glitter tends to be heavier and falls to the bottom quickly, so it isn’t something that is as “engaging” to watch. The glue makes the fluid thicker, and the glitter in the glue is finer….so it is slower to settle. Let me know what you discover okay? Warmly, Lori

  6. abbie says:

    What is the purpose of the dish soap?

    • Lori says:

      Hi Abbie, I just saw your question. I don’t know the exact purpose of the dish soap. It was in the “recipe” I tried that I had the most success with. A few drops perhaps helps keep the water clean and clear…… that is my best guess. It’s an ongoing experiment! Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Lori

  7. Juliette says:

    This is a brilliant, simple way for young children to understand what happens when they get angry or feel anxious. Teaching them simple breathing techniques as they watch the glitter slowly settle, settles and calms them. Brilliant. Every young child should have one of these.

  8. patti says:

    I am developing a kindness curriculum for little ones and would like to offer the mind jar as a mindfulness activity. I think it’s wonderful and am asking permission to use this idea. Thank you in advance.

  9. Kristopher Garza says:

    This is great! I have some questions in regards to this but noticed your email isn’t working. Could you please provide your email if it has changed? Thank you, Lori!


    • Dr Glen says:

      How to make calming jar with cold or warm water for children. How much water for a 20 oz. Plastic jar?

      • Lori says:

        Hi Dr. Glen,
        I’m just seeing your question. I hope you went right ahead and experimented with the formula offered here….. lots of variations that seem to work very well according to the feedback I’ve received. I don’ t know exactly how much water for a 20 oz jar….but I would begin with less water and gradually add until you have the combination that feels right to you before sealing the top. Please let us know how it goes! Thank you, Lori

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