by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
Sensory jars are a fun and creative way to help kids and adults alike learn how to self-regulate emotions, calm down and focus. A sensory jar is a container filled with materials that move and shift when you shake it. This movement can provide a soothing experience for people who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious as it challenges the viewer to pay close attention to flow of the materials as they shift, fall and swirl.
They can also be used as a relaxation technique or as a grounding strategy for those who feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. A grounding technique, such as the calm down sensory jar, is a strategy used to focus and redirect attention in order to achieve a desired outcome. The idea is that by looking at, shaking, or listening to the objects in the jar, it will help to focus the mind and to reduce the behaviors associated with intense emotions.
Making your own sensory jar is an easy way to enjoy the benefits of this calming technique. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the steps on how to make a simple calm down sensory jar and offer suggestions on how to guide your little ones to use the jar as a way to ground themselves when they are experiencing strong emotions.
Creating a calm down sensory jar is a simple process that can be adapted to include any materials you like. To get started, you might first want to collect materials or accessories that you will want to use inside the jar. The materials used can vary, depending on what works best for the person. Some popular materials include:
Sparkles or confetti
Mirrored pieces or tiles
Glitter (fine glitter)
Beads (fuse or perler beads, plastic stringing beads)
Anything that is shiny and that will attract attention
There are a variety of ways to create calm down jars and each one uses a different proportion of ingredients, which will depend on how long you want the glitter to suspend in the liquid and what materials you have available. Please note that in this blog we will be describing a technique using glue, which will require the use of hot water, so parental assistance is advised.
To make your own calm down sensory jar, the additional materials you will need include:
A clear glass jar or tall bottle (such as a VOSS water bottle) with a lid
(you can use any size jar, but for this tutorial we will be using a 12oz jar with a wide enough top to pour in our chosen accessories)
Glitter or any additional accessories that you will be suspending in the jar
Liquid Watercolors or Food coloring (this will be used to change the color of the water)
Hot Water (parental assistance needed!)
Clear Elmer’s Glue
Mixing Bowl (with pouring spout)
Funnel (use this if you are pouring into a small opening in your container)
Liquid Soap (This can be used as a way to help slow down the movement of your objects)
1. Combine the clear glue and hot water into a mixing bowl (80% water and 20% glue). Parental assistance advised with younger children.
2. Add 1-2 drops of liquid watercolor or food coloring if you would like your liquid to be a certain color.
3. Add the glitter to your liquid and mix with a whisk.
4. When you are satisfied with the mixture and notice all of the glitter evenly dispersed, quickly transfer the mixture to your container. This requires parental assistance as the water is still going to be warm.
5. You can then place the lid on your container and shake the contents to make sure that the movement and flow is to your satisfaction.
6. To cool, leave the lid off of the container.
7. Once cooled, you can use hot glue or super glue to seal the lid on as a way to prevent leaks and spills.