By M. Diane McCormick 

When two of Coralee Ellsworth’s kids need a moment to breathe, they reach for something they made in The Library’s mindfulness program last year – their “calm-down bottles” filled with a mesmerizing concoction of glycerin and glitter. 

Ellsworth calls it a valuable addition to her “toolbox of parenting skills.” 

“You turn it over and watch the glitter settle,” said Ellsworth of Lower Paxton Township. “It helps you calm down. They both have them and will still use them in quiet time. It’s a helpful little tool.” 

The Ellsworths learned practical lessons and made take-home crafts in The Library’s 2023 Mindfulness and Yoga Workshop for Families. The program returns for Mental Health Awareness Month 2024, helping parents and children build cultures of mental wellness in their homes. 

When the idea surfaced in 2023, Youth Services Coordinator Samantha Lowe accepted the chance to share lessons from her mindfulness journey. This year, the sessions are being held in four local libraries, up from three, and include new activities for kids. 

For the workshop, Lowe will lead participants through breathing techniques and lessons in mindfulness, which she called “moment-to-moment awareness of the present without judgment.” 

“Many people hear ‘mindfulness’ and think it’s meditation or Buddhism or some sort of spiritual or religious practice,” she said. “That’s not the case. You can practice spirituality mindfully, but you can do everything mindfully. You don’t need anything to be mindful. You just need yourself, your mind, and your breath.” 

The lively program incorporates interactive questions and crafting to help children grasp the concept. Once again, Lowe said kids will make “calm-down bottles” they can use as mindfulness tools, “like a little lava lamp that they just watch while they focus on their breath.” 

Children will learn about engaging all five senses in the pursuit of mindfulness. They will make “cloud dough,” a squishy substance that emits calming scents. New to this year’s session, they’ll play singing bowls and tongue drums to hear the serene, resonant tones. 

In a 15-minute yoga session, Lowe will introduce basic poses, including those with animal names, to help engage the kids, such as downward dog and cat-cow. Lowe will explain that adjustments to accommodate individual abilities are just fine. 

“I want yoga to feel accessible,” she said. “I don’t want them to feel that this is athletic. It is for just about everyone. They can make plenty of modifications based on ability and physical need.” 

Learning and adopting mindfulness can be challenging, and making it a family affair is The Library’s way of making it a team effort. 

“I want the parents to know how they can support their children with their emotion regulation,” Lowe said. “When a parent doesn’t know how to regulate emotion, it’s very difficult to teach a child how to. Parents can use these techniques at home. Last year, the parents were just as engaged and enthralled with what I was saying as the children were. It’s a great way to bring families together and help them grow in their own development.” 

Lowe will also guide parents toward Library resources that can help children incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives, including “Mindful Me: Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids,” by Whitney Stewart, and “Peaceful Like a Panda,” a book of exercises by Kira Willey.  

Lowe said that the program supplements local schools’ work in mindfulness. 

“The Library is always a safe space,” she said. “Our goal is to put more tools in kids’ toolboxes so they know what to do when big feelings happen.” 

Ellsworth, a Library substitute personal services assistant, and her four children, ages 18 months to 16, are Library regulars. She regularly takes her youngest to Storytimes, and all the kids look forward to the release of Compass every quarter to see which programs they can fit into their schedules. 

The benefits of the mindfulness program have stayed with the Ellsworths all year. While the kids got their calm-down bottles, Ellsworth added new breathing techniques to her own mindfulness practices. 

“The Library comes up with all sorts of new and fresh ideas for programs,” she said. “The mindfulness program was a very useful way to give skills and teach skills to parents and families, and I love that it applies to all ages. I got something out of it, and so did my 6-year-old. We were both engaged. The Library does a good job of trying to find programs that meet the needs of different family members.” 

 Mindfulness and Yoga Workshop for Families: McCormick Riverfront, 11 a.m. May 4; Alexander Family, 5 p.m. May 15; Northern Dauphin, 11 a.m. May 18; East Shore Area, 5:30 p.m. May 23. For families with children 6+ years. Registration is required and limited. To register, visit