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  • Shanna Donhauser

DIY Calming Jar

All children benefit from specific tools for learning how to self-regulate. Even young children who invariably need support to regulate, benefit from discussions about the different things we all do to help us calm down. This helps to model regulation skills while also teaching about the physiological responses to stress and emotional upset.

When I work with children who struggle with anxiety and regulation, we build a "calming box". Inside each child selects items that can help them calm down when they are upset. I like to build boxes with items that arouse many senses.

For a visual soothing item, I recommend a calming jar. Calming jars, or galaxy jars, are filled with glitter that spins around when shaken. It's beautiful, mesmerizing, and serves as a timer. Watching the glitter settle gives children time to physiologically calm down and provides an enjoyable, non-screen based distraction.

I've tried many different recipes and highly recommend this one. It's easy, not too messy, and results in the best glitter suspension. Try it out with your kiddo! You can also use this activity as an opportunity to talk about mindfulness and calming down our bodies.


- Glass jar (or a strong plastic that can withstand moderately hot water) with a tight lid *I bought my jars at the dollar store. Ikea has some too)

- Glycerin* (you can find this at the pharmacy section of grocery stores, CVS, or any pharmacy-type store)

- Glue (glitter glue or plain)

- Glitter

- Hot water

*If you cannot find glycerin, add more glue to the mixture

Step 1: Fill the glass jar with hot water. While the water does not be boiling it should hot enough melt the glue. Fill the jar about half way. The glycerin and glue will thicken the water and keep the particles flowing around the jar. If you want the glitter to swirl and float longer, add more glycerin/glue and less water.

Step 2: Add the glitter glue (or plain glue) and mix around.

Step 3: Add loose glitter. I like to add fine and large glitter for a cool swirl effect.

Step 5: Add the glycerin.

Optional: Add a few drops of dish soap. This helps with breaking the surface tension of the mixture and helps the glitter incorporate with the glycerin/glue/water.

After you're done, hot or super glue the lid to ensure it doesn't spill.

Shake it up and you've got yourself a beautiful, glittery calming jar!

You can also add food coloring to the water if you want the color of the jar to be more distinct.

What do you think?

How did your's turn out? Share in the comments for other to learn.

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