31 days of unplugged play: calm down jars (glitter bears)

Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

Today’s unplugged play idea was inspired by all of the beautiful “Calm Down” or “Peace” jars that I’ve seen all over Pinterest.  

The idea of a “calm down” jar has been on my mind for some time because it seemed like a good tool to help my four year old daughter find some quiet moments in the day when she’s having “big feelings,” as we say.

Lucy had been eying the big honey bear container in the recycling bin for some time, so I decided to do my own version of these beautiful swirling sparkle jars by making a glitter bear for especially for her in her favorite colors.

Supplies and materials

  • glitter (we used a mix of fine and heavy)
  • water
  • clear school glue or glitter glue
  • a clear honey bear bottle, plastic bottle with lid, or small glass jar with lid
  • a bit of patience for the drying time if you’re going to glue to lid shut

There are lots of versions of this craft floating around the internet, but the basic idea is to have a little beautiful jar of swirling glitter for a child to hold and focus on when they need some peace.

I’ve seen these as part of quiet time  or peace baskets and I think ultimately that is what I would like to put together for Lucy.  But, we started with these two calm down jars for now:  one, a bear in her favorite color of purple, and another a small recycled baby food jar in green with gold glitter (in case more than one child needs a peaceful moment at the same time).

I’d like to add a thoughtful book or two on feelings and maybe some aromatherapy scented play dough to our peace basket.  I’ll let you know what we end up doing and how this works for us.  I think it will be a good peaceful parenting tool.


  1. Pour your glitter into a clean container (we used a mix of fine and heavy, the fine will take longer to “fall” in the jar).
  2. Add a few squirts of glitter glue or school glue (helps the glitter to clump and swirl).
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring (optional).
  4. Add water. (I have seen some versions of this that used veggie oil or baby oil and I think I might try that next to see if it helps the glitter stay “afloat” in the jars longer)
  5. Replace the lid on your container (I chose to glue ours shut since we have a 14mo. old who recently discovered she can twist off lids).
  6. Shake gently and watch the glitter swirl and fall.  Think peaceful thoughts.

Looking ahead

This weekend you’ll need a few pieces of unfinished wood or a decent sized tree branch and a small saw and some minor woodworking skills (minor, I promise).  You might want to pick up some cream of tartar and some flour if you don’t already have some in your kitchen.  Stay tuned!

Just joining us? Find 31 Days of Unplugged Play here.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Kara! I LOVE this series you’re doing. I love this idea of a calm down jar. I’m going to totally try it! Right now, to help my daughter calm down, we look for a special spot in the house where she can safely cry. In the process of hunting for a special spot to cry, she calms down. To have a calm down jar in that special spot would rock! We’re going to make this.

    Thanks for all the other ideas, too. They’re fantastic!

  2. What a GREAT idea, I will totally be making this for my little ones!
    Jane Gordon´s latest post: A List of Foods that Affect Oral Health

  3. I have a feeling that adults could benefit from one of these as well! What a lovely idea.
    Courtney´s latest post: 31 Days of Quality Time :: Day 12, When the Habit Isn’t Happening

  4. Seriously yes, adults too!! lol

    Love these Kara! I need one right now!!! 😉
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s latest post: Day 12

  5. what amounts do you use of all the ingredients please? Lovely idea!

  6. Aromatherapy play dough?! Do tell! Never heard of it, and I’m intrigued! How long does the smell last? How much essential oil do you use?


  1. […] Day 11 – Calm Down Jar (glitter bears) […]

  2. […] I’ve seen so many of these things on Blogs and Pinterest that I have no idea whose original idea it was, but they are awesome! […]

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