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Sensory Glitter Jars

A while back someone had mentioned in a Facebook post about a student playing with her “glitter bottle” in her health room and it got me thinking about how much I love glitter, and what a cool idea it would be to get/make my own glitter bottles.

What is a “glitter bottle” or a “sensory jar” you ask? Sometimes also referred to as a “calm down jar”, it’s a toy that helps kids (and adults) settle their brain down a bit and refocus. You just get comfy and flip the jar around watching the glitter swirl and settle and float around while breathing in and out and focusing on the movement and sparkles. Sounds relaxing.

You can also use them as a sort of “time out timer” for little ones. They sit in their time out or rest area for the amount of time it takes for the glitter to fall and then hopefully feeling refreshed they can join the activity again. You can decide if it will be a fast or slow timer depending how much corn syrup you add.

Here are the details:

To begin you will need a clean bottle or jar. I bought these craft bottles from Amazon but the Voss water bottles are perfect for this. You can also use a Mason Jar as long as you have a water tight lid for it and you aren’t afraid of glass breaking. I tried using various glass bottles from Hobby Lobby but they didn’t work out so well for this project – too leaky.

Next you will need clear corn syrup. Some people also choose to use clear Elmer’s glue but I like the corn syrup the best – like this one Karo Syrup. I found my Karo Syrup in the cereal aisle at Walmart with the pancake syrup but you can also find it on Amazon.

Now the best part – you need glitter! You can pick color combinations and glitter sizes – I like a combo of small shaped glitter like stars and hearts, very fine glitter and some larger sequins of varying shapes so there is something interesting to look for in the bottle. I tried something that was larger glitter flakes but they didn’t react with the corn syrup very well so avoid those (they got too clumpy and ruined the whole jar). You can find some glitter options here.

Start by filling your bottle about halfway with corn syrup. It doesn’t have to be exact, there are no hard rules here.

Next add your glitter. You can decide how much you want but I used about a table spoon or less of a few different ones. If you finish and you feel like you want more glitter then you can open it up and add more later. You would be surprised at how a small amount spreads out! I also add the sequin shapes at this time – just a sprinkle or two so there’s something interesting floating around to look for.

Now you will add warm or hot water carefully on top of the glitter and corn syrup and fill almost to the top. Leave a space for air so the solution is able to move around and also some space in case you want to add more corn syrup or glitter. You should use distilled water for this to prevent mold from growing but it is not required. You can choose to use cool water instead of warm but the warm water mixes with the corn syrup faster.

Close the lid tightly but not so tight you cant get it off. Start inverting the bottle to mix all the ingredients together. Now you can decide if you’re happy with how the glitter is floating – if it is too watery then add more corn syrup and if it is too thick add more water. You can also top off the glitter now if you want to. Make sure there is a small space of air at the top (because physics).

Once satisfied with the ratios of glitter, corn syrup and water, carefully remove the lid, dry off the top of the bottle and the lid, and add some glue to the threads where the lid goes on, put the lid back on and seal it up.

And that’s it! I’m obsessed with playing with these things and am constantly shaking them up on my desk. While the kids are waiting for whatever reason in my office they enjoy flipping them around and looking for the shapes and watching the glitter swirl.

Published by Emme Mauer M.Ed., BSN, RN, CSN

Mom to two preemies, anxiety sufferer, postpartum depression survivor, and school nurse extraordinaire.

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