Creative Social Worker

Calm Bottle (aka Glitter Jar, aka Mind Jar)

Supplies

  • Container: This is typically made with a glass mason jar, but since I often make these with children I use water bottles with smooth sides.
  • One bottle of clear glue (not white glue that dries clear), or glitter glue: I like using regular glue so I don’t have to deal with the hot water since I make these in my office. Glue/glitter glue works best, but you could also use corn syrup if that’s all you have (You have to pour it directly in the water without letting it touch the sides of the bottle or the glitter will stick to it).
  • Water: It can be room temperature if you use regular glue but should be hot if glitter glue is used. If the water is not hot enough then the glitter will become clumpy and separate.
  • Glitter: I use mostly super fine glitter with a little regular sized. I sometimes add sequins, beads, shells, plastic jewels, etc. Glow in the dark glitter looks really cool if you can find it. Less (or even none) is needed if glitter glue was used.
  • Food coloring: This is optional. Only use one drop or it becomes difficult to see the glitter.
  • Strong glue or duct tape: This is used to fasten the lid to the container. I like using colored duct tape.

Directions

  • Making a Calm Bottle (clear glue): Fill the bottle 3/4 of the way full with water. Then add the glue (and shake) and glitter (and shake). I use a funnel for the glitter. The more glue you use, the longer it will take the glitter to settle. I usually use the whole bottle. Add 1 drop of food coloring, if desired, and then glue/tape the lid on.
  • Making a Calm Bottle (glitter glue): Instead of clear glue you can use glitter glue. If you go this rout then mix the glitter glue in a bowl with very hot water (I boil the water) before adding it to the bottle. If the water is not hot enough then the glue will clump up and not work. You can add 1 drop of food color and additional glitter is desired.
  • Using a Calm Bottle: This is a sensory activity that I primarily use with clients who have temper tantrums. If child becomes emotionally dysregulated at an inappropriate time they shake the bottle vigorously and then set it down and watch the glitter fall while taking deep breaths (how to teach deep breathing to children can be found here) and sitting with their anger (Ahn’s Anger is a good book for teaching this).  This is also useful as a timer that can be applied to a variety of issues (ex. homework breaks).
  • Important Note: I have noticed many people using these for anxiety and panic attacks (without the guidance of a therapist) and I wanted to emphasize that while this could be useful in certain specific situations, it should not be used to avoid dealing with underlying issues.  This exercise will do nothing to get to the root cause or prevent it from happening in the future (and has the potential to make things worse).  Fear must be confronted, rather than avoided, for lasting change to take place.  
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