I have been exploring a range of mindfulness activities to do with children and teens recently and have been asked to share some on the blog. One of my favourites, that can help both adults and children, are glitter jars.
A glitter jar is basically a clear jar with a lid, filled with glitter and water. It can be simply played with, used to help children calm down and even to explain how our minds work when we are feeling stressed. They are easy to make and can provide a calming experience, with children enjoying both making and looking at them.
When the glitter jar is still, the glitter lies peacefully at the bottom of the jar and we can see clearly through the water. Children can shake the jar and watch the glitter as it gradually descends. If they are feeling particularly upset, angry or worried, that can be encouraged to imagine the glitter is like their thoughts, swirling around. They might notice that by simply watching their thoughts, they start to feel calmer.
Fine glitter works well, and if you have a few larger pieces of glitter, children can watch one piece as it swirls around and descends. It might be messy, but children often enjoy using them more if they have created their own.
The basic instructions are as follows, but do experiment with quantities and colours:
1. Find a clear glass jar with a lid
2. Add two teaspoons of PVA glue
3. Add a few spoons of glitter
4. Fill the jar about three quarters with warm water
5. Put the lid on tightly and shake the jar to check the consistency. Maybe add more water, glitter, glue or even a few drops of food colouring.
To use a glitter jar with a child who is upset, start with the jar in a still position, and then encourage the child to shake it. Maybe say words like the following:
“Notice how, like your thoughts and emotions, the glitter is swirling around. Do any parts of it look like how you are feeling? (Pause).
Look how we can’t see through the water any more, it is full with all the thoughts racing around. That’s why it can be easy to make silly decisions when we’re upset – because we’re not thinking clearly. Don’t worry, this is normal and it happens to grown-ups too!
But let’s take a moment, hold the jar still and watch it. Just watching the glitter – maybe all of it or one particular part – watching it gradually settling. (Pause as the glitter descends).
Maybe noticing your mind settling too. See how the water is clearing? (Pause).
Once the glitter is at the bottom of the jar, let’s have a good look at it.
Maybe taking a few slow breaths. (Pause).
If your thoughts are still racing, perhaps shake the jar again. Maybe choose one particular piece of glitter. Focusing on it all the way down. (Pause).
When it has settled, taking a few deep breaths and looking at the glitter lying still at the bottom of the water.”
Glitter jars can be creative, fun and helpful for all the family, and a good activity to do on a rainy day! Do leave any comments to share your experiences with glitter jars, or any other mindfulness activities for children.
You can find some calmer ideas for mindfulness with KS2 children which include suggestions for helping children with sleep. If you are feeling rather stressed yourself, especially if there is a lot of glitter now on your floor, you might like to try a stress reduction meditation or read a poem for wellbeing.