A new spin on the calm down glitter bottle 

Something I have discovered working as a child therapist is that good art supplies matter. Good toys matter. A baby doll that can be cradled, loved and allow children to renurture themselves in ways they never received as an infant is healing and powerful, and even more so when the baby doll isn’t a hollow plastic one from the dollar store whose legs keep popping off. Of course most of us buy our own supplies and can’t afford the best of everything. I understand and appreciate that fact completely.  
But children and adults do know when something is good and of value and being trusted with such items can emphasize their own worth and and the depth and meaning of what they are creating in their art and play in therapy. 

I recently invested in some gently used artist grade acrylics and the children noticed. I quickly got remarks such as, “Wow! Are you sure I’m allowed to use these? The colors are so good!” This allowed opportunities for me to reassure to the children that their art was certainly important enough to use the best paints. This also created opportunities for me to point out how I was able to trust them with using the good supplies and praising their responsible use of the paints during the activities. 

The white shimmer acrylic is quite popular with boys and girls. It can be added and mixed with any other color to add a metallic sheen. Recently I had a child mix the shimmer paint with several other colors in an attempt to make her “safe color.” Allowing children to do this is a powerful intervention in and of itself! 

The child remarked how she wished she could take the special color she had made home in a way other than her painting and how beautiful and swirly it made the paintbrush rinsing cup of water. 


After some experimentation, there is was a safe-color, calming glitter bottle. Perfect for ALL ages. 


Here’s how to make one…

1) Add just a pea sized (or smaller) amount of an acrylic shimmer paint (usually called an iridescent acrylic). I allow the child to mix the paint so it is the right shade and hue for him or her. 

2) Add water to fill the bottle to the top. I personally use empty Neuro water bottles because they look like lava lamps or rocket ships (usually available at Speedway gas stations and Kroger). 

3) Shake and add then experiment adding more paint as needed. 

4) Superglue the lid onto the bottle. 

5) Discuss how thinking about and noticing what helps us feel safe and calm can actually help us feel that way because our mind is very powerful and our thoughts affect our feelings. 

When you provide the best resources you can offer (even just in little ways), it can make a big difference.

 Thanks for reading! Get out there and make your own safe color glitter bottle! 


  1. I’m wanting to do this for a therapy project with one of my classes but I’m a little confused. All the other calm glitter bottles I’ve seen elsewhere say they need glue, hot water, and food coloring. Is this only paint, water, and the acrylic shimmer paint?

    • I just use shimmer paint that is acrylic. Test in a cup of water first if you want to, which is how I discovered it! An unfortunate issue I have encountered is that in certain bottles (especially odd shaped ones such as the one I used) the paint will eventually slightly stick to the sides of the bottle leaving it a bit a blurry. Haven’t seen this issue in straight bottles with no curving for the paint particles to rest on I guess?

      As for the glue question, I have never used glue. When I make “regular” glitter bottles I simply use very fine glitter so it settles more slowly and food coloring. I find the glue makes it too slow and children are not very interested. With the fine glitter, children can usually take at least 5-6 slow deep breaths before the glitter is settled. I have a previous blog on this as well. Hope this helps!

  2. Every time I splurge and get something really nice/expensive for my therapy room the younger kids pour it all onto the first painting they do and then its gone. I think it depends on the child and their maturity level.

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