Making “mind jars” is a fun craft and a great way to teach children about how mindfulness practice helps them calm down and focus.
YOU WILL NEED
• A jar with a lid (a canning jar works well)
• Glitter or a glitter alternative (sand, sequins, microbeads)
TRY THIS TOGETHER
Add water to the jar until it is about three-quarters full. Invite your child to add as much glitter, or an alternative, to the jar.
It’s helpful to use something that will sink to the bottom—small beads or buttons work well. Have fun mixing different colors and textures (if you’re using sand, you could add food coloring).
Tightly seal (or even glue) the lid onto the jar. Your child can decorate the top of the jar with permanent markers or other craft supplies as desired.
Explain to your child that the jar represents her mind that is often really busy with thoughts. (Shake the jar to show the swirl of beads, glitter, etc. to represent how our minds can get completely clouded with our thoughts or our strong feelings.)
What does it feel like when this happens?
Then take a few moments to do some mindful breathing with your child. As you take deep breaths, watch how the contents of the jar settle to the bottom. Once they’ve settled, ask your child how she feels. (She may report feeling relaxed or calm, although any response is fine.) Then talk about what the mind jar looks like now (it’s much calmer and the water is clear).
Explain how the same thing can happen with our mind. It might feel frenzied and busy, but if we stop for a moment, and let our body rest while we take a few deep breaths, things settle down and our mind gets a bit clearer.
VARIATION FOR AGES 3–6
The concept of a “busy mind” may be difficult for younger children to grasp. It may be easier for them to understand busy-ness and overactivity in their body. Ask them to stand up and hold their mind jar with both hands as they twist their body side to side, jump up and down, or wiggle as fast as they can. Then set the mind jar down and ask them to notice how their body probably feels like the jar looks—all swirly and active and unsettled. Take a few deep breaths and notice what happens to the jar, their body, and even their thoughts during a few moments of rest.
VARIATION FOR AGES 7–11
Ask your older child if she ever feels like there’s just too much running through her head at school. She might feel overwhelmed trying to balance schoolwork, homework, friendships, and everything else she needs to attend to during the day. Tell her that she can try to visualize her mind jar even when she’s at school. She can take a few deep breaths at her desk so everything can settle and she can see things a bit more clearly.