Friday, December 18, 2015

Calming Jar

Two weeks ago, the amazing Lower School Breck faculty met after school to create stunning and practical calming jars for each classroom. The jars were introduced to the students and they LOVED them.

You may wonder what calming jars are.  Let me explain by asking you two questions: Have you ever had a strong feeling immediately followed by a strong verbal (or physical) response? Have you ever regretted the strong response? If you answered, "YES," to the second question, you are not alone. We all, at times, have been overwhelmed, frustrated, hurt, or excited by something and have reacted impulsively in a way that wasn't helpful. In fact, at times, our impulsive responses end up making things worse.

Student Examples of Strong Feelings followed by Impulsive Reactions - 

  • Your friend has done or said something that you don't like and you respond immediately with hurtful words. Does your response help or hurt the situation?
  • You become VERY frustrated with a math question and you respond immediately by tossing the paper and/or giving up. Does your response help or hurt the situation?
  • Your parents ask you to do something you don't want to do and you respond immediately by yelling, NO." Does your response help or hurt the situation??"

Brain research shows that when we get upset and have an immediate strong reaction to a situation, a part of our brain called the Amygdola releases adrenaline and cortisol. This reaction prevents us from thinking clearly and is why we may say and do things that we wouldn't do in a calm state. The calming jar is a great visual way for children to learn how to respond to those strong feelings in a healthy way.

Student Instruction: 

  • The glitter represents our feelings, thoughts and emotions.  When something happens that causes us to have a strong feeling our brains get clouded - just as the glitter is clouding the water. Let's stir up the jar, breathe and count to 10... what happens? Yes, it clears up and looks calm again. If we can remember to take deeps breaths and pause for a few seconds when our feelings get stirred up before responding, we can then react with a clearer mind and can make better decisions about how to handle the situation.

I actually have a calming jar in my home which my family enjoys. It is very peaceful to watch the glitter settle and reminds us to pause before we say or do something that we will later regret. Breck students have asked if they can make one at home so I am posting the directions below.

I pray that your winter break is filled with exactly what you need to feel joy in your heart!

Sincerely, Lisa Heurung

Create You Own Calming Jar 
Creation Idea from the DIY-Instructables website

You may use any jar with a secure lid 
(I use plastic water bottles with small children to prevent them from breaking)

Put 1 cup of hot water into your jar.  

Put about 2 tablespoons of glitter glue into the jar 
(2 big squirts without the lid if using Elmers Glitter Glue)

Shake or stir to break up the glitter glue.

Add fine glitter until there is about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch layer on the bottom.

Fill the jar with water, leave about 1 inch at the top for shaking room.

Add some chunkier glitter and a few flower sequins too.

If you want more color, you may add one drop of food coloring. 
Be careful – you want the color to be very light so you can see through it and enjoy the glitter.

Put the lid on tightly.

Once it's really tight...shake shake shake!

When you have your perfect calming jar, I suggest glueing the lid on to prevent it from being opened and spilled!