What’s inside this article: Step-by-step instructions for creating mesmerizing winter-themed glitter jars, along with an explanation of how to use them to help with emotional self-regulation.
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Our elf was busy last night making winter-themed glitter jars to leave for the kids to find in the morning. These are a great activity to do with the kids as a winter craft – we’ve made a few versions of this before.
They can also be used as a calming tool to help kids with emotional self-regulation. I’ll explain that in a little more detail.
Glitter Jars and Emotional Regulation
Glitter jars do provide calming visual input so it makes sense that they can help children calm down. But there is more to it than that.
You can actually form a whole narrative around the jar, mindfulness, and calming down when you have negative thoughts.
Basically, explain to your child that when you’re upset and having a lot of negative thoughts or feelings, they start swirling around in your head just like the glitter inside the jar when you shake it.
Sometimes I call this “tornado brain”
But – if you stop and take a moment to observe and be still, your thoughts will start ti settle just like the glitter.
Some of those thoughts may take longer to settle than others, just like the different sized glitter takes longer to fall to the bottom of the jar.
But eventually, they will, and then it becomes much easier to see clearly and think of solutions.
Before You Begin:
Prep the area where you’ll be making your jars before you begin.
Glitter is extremely hard to clean up if there are any spills.
Lay a towel or blanket down over the entire surface where you’ll be working. If any glitter spills on the towel, you can simply lift it up, take it outside, and shake it off.
Things to Consider
You’ll know exactly what I mean once I go over the full instructions step by step in the next part, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you complete this activity.
- The more glue you add to your jar, the slower the glitter is going to move and swirl around when you shake it.
- It’s a good idea to use different sized glitter because you get different swirling effects and they take different amounts of time to settle. But, if you go overboard on that teeny tiny glitter, it can block out the other glitter and confetti in your jar, and sometimes it won’t ever completely settle.
- Take it easy on the food coloring, If you add too much the water gets really dark and it’s harder to see the shimmering of the glitter. A couple drops is enough
- Empty, clear jar
- Glitter, assorted sizes, shapes and colors
- Clear liquid glue
- Hot water
- Food coloring
- Gather all of your supplies and prep the area where you'll be working.
- Fill the jar with hot tap water, leaving about 2 inches of space left at the top of the jar. * It's important that the water is hot, otherwise the glue won't mix correctly. *
- Add clear school glue to the jar. It's up to you how much you want to use, but keep in mind that the less glue that's in there - the faster the glitter is going to settle. I used a full bottle of glue in these jars. You will see the glue sink to the bottom of the jar.
- Secure the lid tightly, and shake the bottle vigorously, to mix the glue and water together. It may look bubbly or foaming at first but it should return to normal quickly. This is shown in the image below.
- Add your glitter to the jar. It's a good idea to use several different sizes of glitter and confetti in your jar to get the best effects. The different sizes will move and settle at different speeds. Since this is a winter-themed jar, I used Christmas confetti - there were trees, angels, snowflakes, and stars. I also used a lot of very fine glitter and some medium-sized glitter.
- At first, all the glitter will float at the top of your glitter jar. But if you wait, it will start sinking to the bottom. If you are feeling impatient, go ahead and pop the lid on and give the bottle a shake. Wait for the glitter to settle at the bottom before you proceed to the next step.
- Add a very small amount of food coloring to the jar. You can add any color of your choice. However, if you use too much the water gets very dark and it makes it difficult to see the glitter. For these jars, I used gel food coloring for icing, but I've done it with liquid food coloring as well.
- Last, but not least, top up the jar to the rim with water, secure the lid and give it a shake!
It's not necessary, but you may want to actually glue the lid shut because I don't even want to think about what cleaning this up would be like if it spilled.
If you use hot glue and don't get the glue on evenly, it can actually cause it to leak. I glued the lids shut on these using some leftover nail glue I had laying around.
The best part of this activity is that no two jars turn out exactly the same.
Everybody’s glitter jar is unique in its own way. This makes it fun to do with siblings so you can compare the different looks when you’re finished.