As spring approaches and the days get longer, the demands on our busy lives and minds seem to increase exponentially. Even my young students acknowledge that their minds are full of thoughts ALL THE TIME!! Using an adaptation from Kerry Lee MacLean’s book Peacefully Piggy Meditation I created a glitter jar to encourage kids to focus their thoughts and allow them to settle a little.
We used the glitter as a metaphor for our minds with all their shimmery blue thoughts swirling around – some crazy, some smooth and swooping, seemingly unstoppable. As we gathered in a circle around the jar I asked them to take some deep breaths and just let their minds focus on the glitter; as it settled, so would their thoughts. They crawled forward on their bellies to get a closer look, relaxing into a minute or two of stillness for their bodies and brains.
It’s okay if it takes several shakes to feel settled, but after three or four times, the “frequently asked questions” (Where did you get this?, Can I shake it?, etc. ) begin and the desire to reach out and touch the jar takes over. Even after informing them that for the next activity we would be using only our eyes, not our hands, most students felt compelled by curiosity and the sheer mystery to touch, grab and even lick the jar of glitter. While I can’t blame them, I wanted to avoid a situation in which a dozen 4 – 6 years olds began pulling and yanking at the jar until it exploded all over. So with some trial and error, I’ve learned that as the third shake begins to settle it’s best to acknowledge how quiet everyone’s body has become and remind them to take another big breath as I lean in to grab the jar and – without shaking it – softly ask students to say good bye to the glitter jar until next time.
Now, if students want to make their OWN glitter jar, they can hold it, lick it, and swirl it until the cows come home!! It’s easy to do, you need:
A Jar – it can be glass or plastic, but should have good visibility.
Water – hot but not boiling so that as it cools it creates a nice strong seal with the lid.
Glycerin – I just used a squirt of clear hand soap.
Glitter of your choice – I prefer the very fine glitter because I think it stays suspended longer in the liquid.
Start by putting 2 tablespoons of glitter in the bottom of your jar, fill with hot tap water to the VERY top and add your teaspoon of soap or glycerin carefully. Make sure that there are no pieces of glitter on the rim of the jar before you screw the lid on so that you can achieve a nice, tight seal.
Explore different occasions to use the glitter jar to help quiet and calm. At a workshop recently someone said they knew a child who had various colored glitter jars: one for relaxing at bed time, a dark one to absorb her anger, a multicolored rainbow to energize or motivate her. Soon, she learned to identify tension within herself and used the jar when she needed it. I feel like some adults could probably start taking lessons from this child’s self awareness and ability to cope – me included!