What if I told you that for a mere few dollars you could make a project that would entertain and reduce stress in almost any one who encountered it (including you AND your students)? You would probably not hesitate to create one of these items, would you?
Well, look no further…it’s time for you to make a classroom mind jar! And as a bonus, I’m going to give you my personal vetted recipe that took some effort to get just right. So, look no further, you too can have a mind jar for your classroom by tomorrow morning.
A mind jar is simply glitter in a bottle (it’s a little more complicated, but not much). Picture a snow globe that twinkles. It can be made from any clear vessel and you can use glitter of varying colors, you can even add food coloring. You will find that the possibilities are endless once you have the recipe just right.
They are simple, fun and cheap! But the most important reason is that they are absolutely captivating. Here’s the “science” behind them…stressed students (or teachers) shake up the mind jar and focus on the glitter dropping to the bottom of the bottle. By focusing on the glitter slowly drifting to the bottom of the jar, the breathing slows, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, and focus is on the glitter…not the stress!
Depending how you make the mind jar, the glitter can drift slowly or slooooooowly. So it could take a few minutes for all of the glitter to reach the bottom. How many temper tantrums or passive aggressive emails could be avoided if only there was something to occupy our minds AND soothe our stress response for a few minutes?
This is why some people call it a “calm bottle” or “calm-down bottle”. The swirling glitter is very calming as it falls to the bottom of the bottle. If you’re feeling agitated, try it for yourself. Shake the bottle and watch the last few specks of glitter fall to the bottom of the bottle.
In the same way it can calm you when you’re agitated, shaking the bottle and watching the glitter settle can further relaxation when you’re already calm.
For Learning About the Brain…and NOT FLIPPING YOUR LID
You can use a glitter jar as a tool to explain how the brain works. When your emotions are rising up, the brain (the bottle) floods with cortisol (the glitter) and you flip your lid (shake the bottle), losing access to the prefrontal cortex, its flexibility and reasoning capabilities. As you breathe, the cortisol dissipates (the glitter settles to the bottom of the bottle) and you feel calmer and the prefrontal cortex comes back online, making it easier to feel calm and make better decisions.
For Mindful Communication
The glitter jar can be used to teach about mindful communication in the heat of the moment. “We are all upset with lots of thoughts and feelings right now. So let’s all take a break until the glitter in the calm-down jar has settled and then start talking again.”
So there are thousands of recipes out there and they make the mind jars sound so easy to make. However, I tried some of those recipes and my results were less than stellar. So because they are so fun, cheap and easy to make I wanted to pass on the exact recipe I used to make mind jars for my classroom and with a group of students. They got to take their jars home so that they have a proactive way to work with their varying emotions.
Dump out ¼ cup of water from Voss brand water bottle (11.15 ml bottle) OR if you have an
empty bottle fill the bottle with ¾ cup of water.
*I’ve found this bottle to be perfect because it’s plastic and it’s label is easily removed.*
Add 3 Tablespoons of corn syrup
Add 2 drops of dish soap
Add a combination of 1 teaspoons of glitter (suggested amounts are ½ tsp of fine, ½ tsp coarse)
Put cap back on tightly
SHAKE VIGOROUSLY for about a minute
If the glitter doesn’t sink…
-Try adding a couple more drops of soap
-You may have too much corn syrup; dump some of the liquid and fill with water.
If the glitter sinks too quickly…
-Add a little more corn syrup…¼ tsp at a time
When you are satisfied with the amount of glitter and how quickly/slowly it sinks to the bottom, top off with water and hot glue the cap.
Final step…decorate your Mindful Jar with your choice of stickers and other decorations. Have fun and make it you own!
So if you’re looking for a great classroom prop, something for your family or a stress reduction tool for yourself, I would highly recommend making a Mind Jar! Please share your pictures or recipe modifications in the comment section or via email!