This glitter bottle represents how our minds can settle. It is an activity that your kids can use as a mindfulness practice.
Why the glitter bottle?
We are always looking for tools to calm our kids. This one in particular is extremely calming – they are mesmerizing AND give us a window inside our brain. But first we must explain why we use this glitter bottle.
Kids tend to act out when they are struggling and sometimes have difficulty sharing what is going on. When they can’t find the words to explain how they are feeling, we need to be able to demonstrate the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
This glitter bottle is one of the most powerful visual metaphors for what is going on in our brain and the connection between our feelings, thoughts and behaviors. It allows us to practice mindfulness– the practice of being still amongst chaos, and how that affects us. Kids of all ages (and even adults) love using this glitter bottle as a mindfulness practice.
How to make a Glitter Bottle
I use plastic bottles over mason jars because I want them to be safe around kids. I want the kids to be able to use them without the worry of them breaking. I’ve used empty water bottles and have recently been purchasing sensory bottles from Michaels and Amazon. These are sturdy and make really beautiful glitter bottles.
I don’t always use the products I’ve linked to but the ones I linked on amazon are Amazon affiliates. These materials are what I’ve used in the past so you can get a sense of the actual products I do use. I buy glitter, sequins, glitter glue and duct tape on sale anywhere I see them! Target has sequins in the dollar bins a lot and JoAnn’s Fabrics has a lot of these items on sale often. I try to stock up.
This recipe makes 8 glitter bottles.
- Fill a 5 quart pot with 4 quarts of water.
- Heat until almost boiling then turn off the heat.
- Add an entire bottle of any color glitter glue (it doesn’t really affect the end result of the glitter bottle).
- Stir it up until dissolved.
- Allow water to cool.
- Use a funnel for reduced mess! With a ladle, pour the liquid into the bottle, filling almost to the top.
- Add glitter and sequins.
- Put on the lid and shake it up- make sure it takes about 2 minutes or so to settle.
- Using a glue gun, put some glue into the lid and screw the lid on tight.
- Using colorful skinny duct tape, tape around the bottle.
- Shake up!
I make a lot of these at home with my son who helps me choose color combinations. We sell them at events and online so I needed a way to be able to make a lot at a time. Another great idea is to make them as a craft for birthday parties. If you are interested in having a yoga birthday party, check out my birthday party page here. When I have children make their own, I do the following variation:
Children made variation (in schools and birthday parties)
- I pre-fill with the liquid I made at home using the steps above into smaller containers like these.
- I place the glitter shakers on the tables so kids can choose which colors they want to use. The shakers are great because it limits how much glitter will come out.
- I put sequins in bowls on the table and let the kids use what they want and how much they want.
- I don’t glue the covers, but I cover and tape them shut.
- Kids can decorate with alphabet stickers- they love to put their names on them.
How to use the Glitter Bottle for a Mindfulness Practice
There are many variations of this practice. I have read about teachers using a large jar that all the kids can add glitter to. The kids can choose which color glitter represents their thoughts, and which color represents their feelings. Other variations include using other sensory materials like beads, legos, etc. The heavier materials can symbolize the behaviors and they separate from thoughts and feelings (the glitter). mindful.org
When I teach, we talk a lot about our monkey mind – all the thoughts we have in our day. It’s like monkeys swinging from vine to vine. Not only are we having hundreds of thoughts in a day, but we are going through many different emotions as well. The glitter represents ALL the thoughts and feelings we are having.
When you watch the bottle…
We can watch the bottle when it is calm and think about how that relates to our morning, when we first get up before ANYTHING else happens in our day. We swirl that bottle, and the glitter represents the thoughts and emotions and sequins as our behaviors as our day progresses.
What are some things that may happen in the morning? You get in a fight with your mom, you are running late, your brother takes your favorite toy, you can’t find the matching sock. It’s hard to think clearly when there is so much going on in your brain all at once. You get to school and then dozens of other situations occur that cause your monkey mind to go crazy.
A Mindful Minute
What is going to help you in these moments? Taking a mindful minute- a brain break. I tell the students it’s like pressing the reset button on your video game. It clears it up, starts it over. We don’t want to get rid of all of those thoughts and feelings- we want to figure out a way to manage them. When we practice a mindful minute daily- time where we can sit still and let our thoughts and emotions settle, it is a way to manage (and self-regulate) and give us a time to settle. Using the glitter bottle allows us to take that mindful minute (or 2 minutes) and JUST LIKE WHEN THE GLITTER IN THE BOTTLE SINKS TO THE BOTTOM AND SETTLES, our monkey mind is given time to settle so we can get clear and figure out how to mindfully deal with each different situation that we will face in our day.
Other ideas for the glitter bottle?
- use as a timer
- place in a peace corner
- put in the center of the circle for meeting time
- a family can use it together for a calm down time
You can also purchase a Mindful Glitter Bottle from me here!
What else? How have you used the mindful glitter bottle successfully?
This post was adapted from Dr. Christopher Willard’s book Growing up Mindful.