Making Sensory Bottles

Sensory Bottles or Calm Down Bottles are a huge trend right now. And why not? They are great for all ages and abilities, and you can make sensory bottles that match any kid’s interests.

A sensory bottle is an umbrella term for any clear bottle that is filled with stuff that is cool to look at. Many kids use sensory bottles to regroup and re-center themselves, de-escalate or calm down. For some, it helps with vision acuity. All can benefit from the use of language and talking about what you’re doing.

how to make a sensory bottle DIY

You can even make it a science project or STEAM activity to make your own DIY sensory bottle. There are plenty of recipes for these online. I’ve gathered a few for you, with their best tips.

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What are Sensory Bottles Used For?

Omigosh, there are so many benefits of sensory bottles. Sure, we pick them up and we look at them. But you can do so much more. Especially if you are making your own sensory bottles, you can change out the ingredients to change the activity.

  • STEAM activities: Talking about what floats, what sinks, what mixes together and what doesn’t.
  • De-escalate/calm down: Focusing on a glitter bottle can help a child calm down and re-center their thoughts.
  • Self-regulation: Use before a situation occurs.
  • Language: You can put any “theme” into a sensory bottle and then use it for Q&A or conversations.
  • Fine Motor: Putting the items in and putting it together.
  • Sequencing: Some instructions have to be followed in order or the inside won’t “take.”
  • Sound: Getting used to unusual sounds, identifying sounds.
  • Math: Counting, shapes, measuring.

Sensory Bottles with Baby Oil

Some, but not all of DIY sensory bottles will use baby oil. Here is list of recommended ingredients. If you keep an arts and crafts bin or cabinet, I would keep these on hand. During long winter months, this can be a really fun activity for bored kids.

Sensory Bottle Ingredients

If you have several of these ingredients on hand, you should be able to make a sensory bottle without running to the store.

  • Empty Clear Bottle–plastic or glass, depends on your kiddo, I certainly wouldn’t give glass to younger kids.
  • Food Coloring (check ingredients for allergies, plus if the recipe calls for oil based food coloring)
  • Vegetable Oil, Canola Oil
  • Corn Syrup (light, not dark)
  • Dish soap
  • Mineral Oil
  • Buttons
  • 91% Rubbing Alcohol
  • Alphabet letters
  • Rice
  • Glitter
  • Glitter Glue
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Foam Letters and Shapes
  • Beads
  • Permanent Marker
  • Coins
  • Legos (that you don’t want anymore!)
  • Old bowl and whisk (if you wish to mix before putting in a bottle)
  • any small trinket or toy (dice, army men, etc.)
  • water

Some of the instructions on making a glitter bottle or sensory bottle call for you to heat a mixture on a stove top. If you use those ideas, make sure you have an extra pot around, and adult supervision of course.

I’m a huge fan of trying to eliminate single-use plastics in our house. Sometimes, we don’t have a choice. This is a great way to upcycle or reuse your clear plastic bottles. Just doing what I can to save the planet for our kids.

Think you have enough of this stuff on hand? Great! Let’s get started!

sensory bottle with baby oil
The Soccer Mom Blog has this super cute idea!

The Soccer Mom Blog has several great ideas. In addition to the photo above, she has sensory bottles for: Halloween, Fall/Autumn, and even Monsters.

Glitter Glue Sensory Bottle

When choosing between recipes for Sensory Bottles, you’ll find one common theme…GLITTER! And why not? It’s so fun to look at.

The following sensory bottle instructions contain glitter. But I am listing them by what their main theme is.

sensory bottles with glitter
See the complete list at The Chaos and The Clutter.

Sensory Bottles without Glitter

I have a love/hate relationship with glitter. Sure, it’s really cool to watch it in sensory bottles. Not so cool to work with it or clean it up.

If you’d prefer to learn how to make a sensory bottle that doesn’t have glitter, I found a few of those too.

I-Spy Sensory Bottles

I-spy sensory bottles are a great way to work on a child’s language. Unlike many of the recipes above, these are not wet and gooey. They are dry and the goal of the activity is to use visual discrimination to spot objects and then label them. You can add in colors, counting for math and more.

Kimberly over at TeamCartwright says:

I Spy bottles give you the perfect chance to talk to your child about what they are seeing in the bottle. What is different about the objects? What is the same? How do the unique items differ from the main filler?

Even without guiding questions your child is learning to compare as she moves the bottle and sees how some objects fall right to the bottom and others hide more effectively in the filler.

Sound Sensory Bottles

Many sensory bottles are made with the intent of looking at them. Or, appealing to your visual sense. However, you can make them with sound or a noisemaker in mind.

I hope this is enough to get you started. Yes, I use them too! I have a glitter wand in my desk.

Have fun!