ART+KIDS: Calm Down Jar

calm down jar

Written by contributor Melissa Allen of Green Owl Art.

If your child is like mine and time-outs only cause a bigger eruption of emotions and never seem to work the way intended this can be a great tool. When Emma needs a moment to herself (to put in nicely) I ask her to sit with her calm down jar for a few minutes and come find me when she sees most of the glitter fall to the bottom. She usually starts off by giving it a good shake, this helps get some of that frustration out. Then she sits memorized by all the glitter falling to the bottom. By the time I get my over tired and emotional child back, she is ready for a cuddle. Yes, it’s not magic, but it seems to help smooth things out. It is actually pretty relaxing for me to watch as well.

I had Emma help make it and explained to her what her special calming jar was. This was a good opportunity for us to chat about feelings and good ways to express them.

calm down jar

Calm Down Jar Materials

Small jar- make sure it’s one that will hold liquid tightly
2 tubes of glitter glue
Half a tube of glitter
A few drops of food color

This is pretty simple: just add everything to the jar. Use warm water and give it a good shake to get the glue mixed in well. I had Emma help me by adding all the materials and of course the shaking. Bring on the peace!

For other fun craft ideas, check out Green Owl Art.

For more resources on peaceful parenting, click here. 


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98 Responses to ART+KIDS: Calm Down Jar

  1. Ryan hansard March 7, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Nice article, I want to try this out for Jackson. I hope that the transition to Portland is going well.

    • Melissa Allen March 7, 2012 at 7:53 am #

      Thanks, Ryan. Going pretty good here so far, besides Emma requesting more sunshine each day. Wish there was a jar for that. 😉

      • Kerri January 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

        I love this and pinned it in Pinterest. I think you meant to say mesmerized in the 1st paragraph instead of memorized! LOL!!

      • Caroline Wood January 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

        Maybe use gold glitter? 🙂

    • Cyn January 14, 2014 at 4:09 am #

      Use a plastic mayo jar and super glue the cover. Liquid paint a heart on the lid or some pretty design and its ready to go. On the bottom paint the a word of encouragement.

    • darlene January 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      how old do they have to be to have one of these any how .

      • Walter January 15, 2014 at 5:11 am #

        I have given them to elderly patients and those with MH/MR difficulties…..if it works it works.

    • grammy roo January 15, 2014 at 7:44 am #

      I like this idea but am worried about the lid leaking??? if the child shakes it too hard or turns it upside down???

      • Robin January 16, 2014 at 11:28 am #

        Grammy, If you have ever used mason jars you would know that with the cap and ring, it will not leak. Just to be safer, use a cleaned plastic mayonnaise jar and glue the lid on. : )

      • Chey January 5, 2015 at 10:13 am #

        Put lid on tight then use a glue gun to put a nice thick bead around the mason jar lid just under the lip

    • Alisha January 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      When my 15 yearold was 2 we made these but with plastic drinking bottles and we used kiro syrup and put little beads and glitter then we supper glued the top on lasted for a long time

      • Cherie January 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

        what was the ratio for this recipe. Did you add water or just the syrup.

  2. Jenni McKay March 7, 2012 at 6:04 am #

    I saw this on Pinterest and have been wanting to make one! I think I’m going to need to add some super glue to the top though, because I think my little guy will have a hard time resisting taking the top off to get the glitter out!

  3. April March 7, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I love this idea! I actually saw it on Pinterest too and plan to make one with my daughter!

  4. Marieke March 7, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Love this idea! Do you have any suggestions on other options besides the jar? Or, if you have suggestions on how to secure the top (in addition to screwing it down tightly), I would love to hear.

    • Melissa Allen March 8, 2012 at 6:31 am #

      I think if you use a mason jar it should be pretty easy to add a little strong glue to the the lid since it comes in two pieces. Another option would be to use a pretty to look at sand timer or snow globe. For us anything that allows the children to relax and get their minds off the issue without feeling like they are being placed somewhere to cry their eyes out. Emma knows this time is for her to take deep breaths and calm down so she can feel better.
      We also use zen tables to help get out of a cranky mood. A few minutes for Emma to smooth out a tray of rice and place stones in a nice pattern can do wonders on her mood. For Grayson this consists of just a some rocks that he moves in and out of a few different sized containers. It is surprisingly very therapeutic.
      Those are just some things we do, hope it helps!

      • Jadah Sellner March 9, 2012 at 7:34 am #

        Melissa, we should work on a zen approach and positive alternatives to “time out” post. Sometimes I am cranky and get in “angry mommy” mode. Once I calm down or I am searching for the calm. I invite Zoe to hold my hands while we sit and breathe together. It lets her know I care, we connect, and it brings me back to the present. I think my mom is going to try the calming jar with sand and beach items since she lives on Kauai. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness!

        • Klara Sedlacek January 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

          Jadah, your post is so heartwarming. We all get thrown off sometimes, but knowing how to come back and invite the child to be an active part of the process is amazing. Have fun with the jar. Besides, Time outs are overrated. As you say, it should be a “time-in” or how to gently find a way back and get in touch with ourselves (adult or child).

    • Kimberly May 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      When I was little I had one that had glitter and crayon shavings from all our broken crayons that was pretty cool….
      Just take a piece of a crayon and whittle it down with a butter knife, and then break up the shavings so they aren’t too big…

    • sherry December 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      I also loved the idea – but not the glass bottle part. I used pop bottles (had to go out and buy them because the water bottles seem too thin). Anyway – I put the hot water in them and then dumped the glitter glue (I used an elmers bottle of glitter glue that looked liked a regular school glue bottle) and let the kids shake the glue/water mixture by holding the top. It worked great. I then superglued the tops and I think they look good enough for me to make one for myself for work 🙂

      • cathy January 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

        what a great idea…no glass! Yep, I think I want one for myself!

    • Angel February 18, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      A plastic peanut butter jar can be used and a little glue on the inside of the lid will keep it shut.

    • Shelley January 11, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      I used a water bottle for mine (Smartwater bottles work best)
      I also used some clear tacky glue to control the time it took for
      the glitter to settle.

      • Lori January 24, 2014 at 11:34 am #

        What size glitter tubes do you use! I only found glitter glue in colors.what size glitter glue?

    • Carole January 13, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      I used E6000 glue to secure the top.

    • Toni January 14, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      I used 20 oz water bottles and glued the lid on!

    • Pamela January 19, 2014 at 9:46 am #

      Put glue on the inside rim of the lid and screw it on tightly.

  5. Heather Johnson March 12, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Hi Jen, thanks for including the link in your comment over on The Idea Room. I really appreciate your thoughts on the post about Enforcing Consequences. This is a great idea! And so quick and simple to put together. Glad to hear it is making a difference with your little girl.

    Family Volley

  6. Danielle April 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    How much water did you use? Is the jar full? Not sure on quantities. This would be absolutely fabulous for my add daughter when she starts having her meltdowns. Thanks so much for the great idea!

    • Melissa Allen April 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Yes, Danielle. It is a full jar of water with just enough room to be able to shake it all up! This jar has been very calming for my children during melt downs. I hope it helps for yours too.

      • Danielle April 28, 2012 at 6:58 am #

        Thanks for the reply! We are making them today! 🙂

      • alat bantu sex September 25, 2013 at 9:16 am #

        Good information brother and i very like it

      • Tammy March 12, 2014 at 11:18 am #

        Did anyone not succeed at this? All of my glitter is floating in the jar lid and the glue didn’t mix into the water. 🙁 Does it take a while? I don’t know what I did wrong. I don’t have food coloring, so I didn’t use it, but thought the glitter would be on the bottom, not the top?? HELP!

        • Sarah March 20, 2014 at 8:51 am #

          I had this problem too. About half the glitter floats on the top. Did you use warm water? That should have helped with the glue mixing in, but I’m not sure what we can do about the floating glitter!

  7. sara June 18, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    We made these today. Both kids dropped in a squinkie. Turned out great. Did them in plastic water bottles. Didn’t want to drop and break.

    • Family Sponge June 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Hope your kids enjoy it Sara! I had my kids make their about a month ago and they really do calm down while focusing on the jar. Such a cool idea.

  8. Heather June 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I’ve seen these all over and finally made one yesterday. I love the idea, but ended up so frustrated myself. thre different brands of glitter glue and all three of them clumped… immediatly. Yes I used HOT water. Any advice?

  9. Katie September 4, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    This is great, and I’m definitely trying it, but I’m having a hard tim visualizing how the glitter glue gets mixed in with the water, etc. Won’t it just clump and/or stick to the sides or other glitter? Am I missing something?

    It’s going to be a sure hit as a time out alternative, though. We may make one for each room so they’re always close at hand. 🙂

  10. Bella November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi, so I am making this for one of my clients who has some frustration management problems (I work with people with developmental disabilities). I made it up in a jar, but it seemed like the glitter was settling too fast, so I added extra plain school glue, but now it seems like it is settling even faster and I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

    • Melissa Allen November 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      Hi Bella,
      School glue does not work the same for some reason. I would start over adding double the glitter glue (I found that dollar store glitter glue works great) and maybe add some extra glitter. The measurements all depend on the size of the jar too. Hope that helps. Good luck!

    • JILL January 15, 2014 at 12:37 am #


      • Mary D January 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        stupid question… so, just use all the ingredients, but omit the glitter glue and replace it with a few drops of glycerin?

  11. Myra Stinson November 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    I made these using the SMART brand water bottles. Used the tall ones and glued the lid on. Use in my classroom with no problems.

  12. Chrissy Sisson November 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    Do you put the whole tube of both glitter glues in the water? I think this woild be perfect for my children. Especially when my 1 year old gets bigger because he’s already showing to have a bad temper! Might look into something not.made out

    • Sandra Boyd January 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

      Burger King has milk in plastic bottles. I save them to use for crafts.

  13. Stacy December 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Can you omit the glitter glue? I just have regular glitter (very fine Martha stewart stuff) Does it have to have the glitter glue??

    • Megan December 30, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      I had the same question about omitting the glitter glue. I tried using olive oil as a replacement, which didn’t work. The olive oil made the glitter clump together. I suppose I will be starting over after I buy some glitter glue.

    • JILL January 15, 2014 at 12:38 am #


    • Shannon January 31, 2015 at 5:40 am #

      I used loose glitter and baby oil in small plastic orage juice/lemonade/Gatorade bottles and used 5 minute Epoxy to glue the lids shut. I also got my daughter jewelry making kits with plastic beads to put in with the glitter. She had a lot of fun making them, she even had friends ask her to make them one too!

  14. Diana G January 10, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    You can use regular glitter, but add a couple tiny drops of dish soap to the top of the water to break the surface tension and keep it from clinging to the tops & sides. To make it fall more slowly, add some glycerin to the water (available at craft stores in the soapmaking aisle). I did some snowglobes like this one year, with babyfood jars.

  15. Nora April 10, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    The majority of my glitter won’t settle to the bottom but I also made mine before I saw this article and omitted the glitter glue. Any suggestions? Does the glue make it settle better?

  16. Isabella Smith April 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Made my four year old niece one, I can’t wait to give it to her when she comes home from her dads. And now my twenty three year old sister wants me to make her one. Great idea(:

  17. Amanda April 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Hi everyone, I was wondering how long it takes for the glitter to settle?

    Thanks so much I am looking forward to making these

  18. debbie May 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    i am using a see through plastic vitamin jar with a child proof lid that n does not leak i get double duty child proof lid and plastic

  19. Kjellcrowe August 21, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    How much water?

  20. PhoebeAnne September 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Made three of these over the weekend with my granddaughter, one blue, one teal and one green. We used water bottles with the labels removed. Did the mixing in a small mason jar and used almost boiling water to melt the glitter glue. Used a whisk to mix it all well. It took lots, I mean LOTS, of stirring to get the regular glitter to incorporate but it finally happened and we were really pleased with the results! Got all of our materials from the Dollar General Store. We also put duct tape on the lids so no small child, i.e. 3 year old brother, would see the water bottle and think it was a yummy drink! Thanks for sharing a great project! 🙂

  21. PhoebeAnne September 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    By the way, it takes a little over a minute for the glitter to completely sink to the bottom after one shake.

  22. Erica October 4, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    how long do these last? do you reuse the same one or do you have to make different ones?? also, is there a way you can make them glow???

  23. Kay October 29, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    You could try adding seltzer water to one. The quinine in it should glow under a black light.

  24. Mami Nicky November 5, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I found that the plastic Voss water bottles work great! Thank you and I find it useful for my own overwhelming interception moments 😉

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  26. Julie January 12, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    I wish some of the other ladies would show PICS of their projects too! I’m a viual person!
    I no longer have little ones but I do have a 4 year old grand son….not tht he needs it but thought it might be a fun thing to do and have around.
    Thank you for sharing your info. Funny how people try to do it differently…I think i’d follow your instructions FIRST! LOL

  27. The Cmil Family January 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    A friend of mine just shared this on Facebook and I LOVE the idea. But I do have a question. Can regular glue be used in place of glitter glue (or am I reading the word wrong? When I see glitter glue I think of glue with glitter in it…). I do have glitter and Elmer’s Glue and a water bottle (no glass mason jars for my 5 year old little miss independent with occasional attitude). So I essentially have all the things needed to make this except for glitter glue. Any advice would be awesomely appreciated!



  28. Brandi Deville January 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    How much water?

  29. Sandra Boyd January 12, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    I suggest that a plastic bottle be used, as a glass one in a child’s hands can easily get broken. I save the bottom from Burger King that the milk come in. Just the right size for little hands. Also, I suggest glue top on bottle. I am going to store Monday to get supplies. Thanks.

  30. Judy jones January 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    Where do I buy glitter glue is it a year round thing
    What color glitter
    What color food color
    How do you know what colors to mix

    • Philip January 13, 2014 at 3:30 am #

      Judy – speaking as someone who knows a bit about colour therapy and art therapy, I would say that the best idea is have a number of jars with different colours. I would have 7 jars, coloured with rainbow colours – ie a red one and an orange one and a yellow one – green – light blue – dark blue and violet. Optionally also pink.

      Then let your child choose the colour they need (or maybe 2 or more)

      Each colour has a particular healing effect and each person needs different colours at different times depending on what is going on for them at that time.

      If I had to make a calming one, I would use dark blue (indigo).
      For energising – Red or orange
      Yellow – resolution of difficulties
      Love – green or Pink

      Hope this helps,

      • Chrystal January 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

        That was an awesome response. Thank you.

        • Chrystal January 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

          And I didn’t even ask the question!

      • Kathy January 20, 2014 at 7:55 am #

        Love your suggestions, Philip. Thanks so much.

        • Philip January 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

          Thankyou Chrystal and Kathy!

          There is a healing system called Colour Mirrors where clients use bottles of coloured liquids to facilitate the healing. So this is why I thought of the colours when using these. (that and the theory that when a trauma happens to someone a colour is knocked out of their spectrum).

          The removal of colours partially explains why some highly traumatised people tend to wear black.

          Using the Calm Jars for your children does more than just calm them in the moment – it helps to resolve their traumas. Important for them if they are to lead happy healthy lives in the future!

          Philip x

  31. Leanna January 13, 2014 at 4:04 am #

    The vials from the glitter and the dregs from the glue tubes make a pretty good mini (adult version) too…

  32. brad January 13, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Wow, that is really awesome. I don’t know if anyone mentioned this or has tried other colors, however, you might want to include that specifically blue, and sorta green are calming colors, and doing it with other colors may not work as well.

  33. kirsty January 14, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    will a jam jar be ok for this?

  34. Sarah B January 14, 2014 at 6:14 am #

    I remember reading years ago that glycerin would help slow down the glitter as it falls…instead of glue. Of course, we don’t all have glycerin in the cupboard…what about clear corn syrup?

  35. Jo January 14, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    My kids and I made these inside of ornaments (the plastic ones you can buy at craft stores that you can fill with anything). We added filling from a glo stick. Gorgeous! another beautiful project is to add glitter to various food colorings, and carefully pour your creations at the base of icicles. the dye fills up the icicle perfectly, and you will have a beautiful display! You can add the glo stick to this too and have lit up sparkly colorful icicles.

  36. Shana January 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    Pretty cool! can’t wait to make one for my almost 2 year old. Have some breastmilk storage bottles that would work great in her tiny hands that like to throw. Can also put innards from highlighters in the bottle to make a glowing color. Will take a few days before all the color is leached into the water. Would cut it into pieces so they kind of float around too. Have several nieces and nephews who would like this as well. Great idea for craft to make at my daughter’s 2nd bday party next month!

  37. Carissa January 15, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Hey might have a dumb question but I want to make one of these and you don’t have listed how much water should be used. About how much water is used??

  38. Jena January 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    I jst made one with my 3yo daughter. Against my better judgement, we used a glass Mason jar, stressing that not only can she not throw it, but we don’t want her to take it near her baby brother because it’s heavy and could hurt him. I haven’t glued the lid on yet, just in case I need to add something, but it’s on so tight now I may never get it off again anyway!

  39. Jena January 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Anyone got ideas for making it glow in the dark? I looked for glow-in-the-dark craft stuff but they didn’t have any where I was shopping…

  40. Philip January 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Here is a link I found on eBay to a to a cheap LED waterproof lighting thing that you can stand the jar on, or it can even go inside the jar. It comes with a remote control that you can use to change the colours or fade, or turn on/off the lights.

    It costs £15 in the UK. That is about US $22.

    You could glue it to the bottom of the jar perhaps?

  41. Brenna January 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I used these with my kids years ago! It worked like a charm and can be further customized by adding shaped glitter confetti! One of my kids had dragon flies, lady bugs, and the like and the other kid had butterflies and hearts. You can put anything in there that your kids will like. I found it helped to center mine by having their favorite things to look out for!

  42. Shelby January 18, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Would baby oil work instead of water? And e600 to secure lid?

  43. Erica January 19, 2014 at 5:17 am #

    What about using a bead of silicon around the rim to create a seal so the lid is water tight once you screw it on. This sounds like a great diversion tactic to try before a tantrum becomes extreme and a time out or alone time becomes needed.

  44. Terrie Walker January 19, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    My daughter Grace is the littlest of my three girls. And her older sisters a have picked on her whole life. And she has had to go through a lot of family changes. But her calm down jar helps her forget all about it. And it helps her feel safer around her two older sisters. <3

  45. cara January 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi everyone. Just made this with my daughter today. We used a clean, plastic mayo jar, a small bottle of elmers glitter glue and a couple small tubes of glitter. When we did it we used hot tap water and the glue didn’t mix in right away so I took the lid off and popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds, stirred with a chop stick, then put it in for another 30 seconds. And it worked beautifully! We did not have super glue to seal the lid but my handy husband did have pipe tape, which we put around the jar threads and it made the seal water tight :). Not sure if anyone else tried the microwave trick but there you go. The glitter stays suspended for quite sometime.

  46. Lori January 24, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    The colored glitter glue and different color glitter makes it clumpy and a gross color. That’s all I could find. Do you use clear glitter glue?

  47. Amanda February 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    I saw this post and was so excited because it would be perfect for my daughters. However, when I made it tonight it didnt work at all! Id love some advice on what may have gone wrong. The glue ended up sticking the glitter up against the inside walls of the jars I used and ruined the entire effect. I also used mason jars and they are leaking horribly. very sad because this is such a good idea!

  48. Daniella March 2, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    If you’re feeling lazy, they sell these online on Etsy! I was pricing up the items to make it, and considering my crafting skills, I figured I would avoid a disaster.

  49. Peacemaker Resources October 24, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Thanks for this post! This is a project we use often in our work regarding Social & Emotional Learning skills to teach kids about emotional regulation. We included a link to your instructions on a facebook post we just did. Great idea!

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  51. Jessica January 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm #

    So I tried this for my class and I’m running into the problem of floating glitter or the glitter is clumping up like little glitter clouds. Which its all very pretty and Ivan mesmerizing however its not really lasting as long as I’d like. I was hoping for at least a few minutes of quiet time, maybe 3 or 4 at the most, but it seems to only last about half a minute.
    Did anyone else run into this problem or do they have a solution? It would be greatly appreciated!

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