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How to Make Sensory Bottles in the Classroom

Tips and ideas for sensory bottle activities.

How to Make Sensory Bottles in the Classroom

How to Make Sensory Bottles in the Classroom

Introducing sensory bottles to your preschool classroom is an excellent way to engage your preschoolers in creative and stimulating activities. As children explore the sensory bottles, they stimulate their senses, allowing them to gain insight into the world around them. These bottles can also provide a calming and soothing effect, providing children with something to focus on when they feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Sensory bottles will not only help your children to understand their environment better, but they will also be an effective way to encourage cognitive development and language development by encouraging children to explore, experiment, and talk about their observations.

There are various easy and inexpensive ways to craft these engaging sensory items. This article will provide tips and tricks on creating unique sensory bottles in your classroom.

What is a sensory bottle?

A sensory bottle is a simple, fun tool used in the classroom to engage preschoolers’ senses. It's a container, often a plastic bottle, filled with liquid material such as water, oil, or corn syrup, and different materials like beads, glitter, or confetti that are combined together to create an immersive learning experience. Sensory bottles can also be used as a way to refocus and calm a child who is overwhelmed.  Children can shake the bottle and watch the contents peacefully move, mix, and float inside.

In the classroom, sensory bottles are used in various ways to promote creative thinking and self-expression.

Here are five ways educators can use these bottles:

  • To introduce a new concept
  • To explore feelings and emotions
  • To encourage creative problem solving
  • To provide calming sensory stimulation during transitions or moments of stress
  • To support language development with auditory and visual engagement

Sensory bottles can be used with children of all ages. Educators can create and design unique bottles that fit their specific classroom needs.

Sensory bottle ingredients

Making sensory bottles is a fun, and easy hands-on activity children can explore. Be sure to use plastic bottles that are safe and small enough for tiny hands. Here are some ingredients to start with:

Glitter

Adding glitter to a sensory bottle can create a calming and mesmerizing effect that helps children relax, focus, and concentrate on their tasks or activities. The type of glitter you choose, from soft, subtle flecks to chunky accent pieces, will determine the effects you will create.

Sequins

Sequins are shiny objects that come in different shapes and sizes. They will add texture, color, and sparkle to your sensory bottle. Sequins are usually made from plastic or metal, so ensure they're safe for your classroom before adding them to the bottle.

Gems and beads

Gems and beads add visual stimulation to your sensory bottle. They are found in all shapes, sizes, and colors, making them perfect for creating a unique and exciting look.

As you select your gems and beads, consider the materials they're made from and make sure they can withstand the liquid environment in your bottle. Be sure to choose materials that won't fade or break down over time.

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil helps to create a slow-moving and mesmerizing effect in your sensory bottle. When added, the oil will sit on top of the water, creating a distinct layer and allowing other materials, such as glitter and beads, to slowly move through it.

Food coloring

Food coloring is optional but does add an extra layer of visual stimulation to your sensory bottle. If you add food coloring, ensure that it's safe for children and won't stain the inside of the bottle or clothes.

Other creative items

Creativity is key when making sensory bottles. Add creative elements to your bottle by incorporating the following items:

  • Buttons
  • Feathers
  • Fabric scraps
  • Ribbons
  • Tiny figurines
  • Confetti
  • Sand
  • Foil stars
  • Pompoms

Anything you add should be safe for children to handle without risk of choking or injury. Also, make modifications accordingly to secure the contents in the bottle.

Sensory bottle ideas

Creativity is vital when making sensory bottles, and there are countless possibilities. Here are a few ideas that are simple, fun, and engaging.

Bubbles

A child-safe bubble solution, sequins, and a pinch of glitter makes a beautiful bubble sensory bottle. The colors will sparkle and shine while the sequins move around with the motion of the bubbles.

Fireworks

Fill a bottle with red, orange, and yellow tissue paper pieces to make a homemade fireworks show. When the bottle is turned upside down, the pieces look like fireworks. This bottle is perfect for celebrating children’s birthdays or special days in class.

Glittery oceans

A bottle filled with water and blue and green glitter gives the effect of an underwater ocean. Add a few colorful shapes or plastic starfish to make it even more fun.

Sand art

Fill a bottle with vibrant-colored sand for a fun, beachy vibe. This can be used as a calming tool or be used to spark creativity and imagination. While you can purchase colored sand, you can also make your own by adding food coloring to regular sand and mixing it in a bowl.

Glowing stars

Glow-in-the-dark paint and stars make this sensory bottle a night sky in your classroom. This bottle will create an awe-inspiring effect when it's “turned off and on.” The stars can be purchased from any craft store, or you can use glow-in-the-dark stickers to get a similar effect.

Colorful confetti

Fill a bottle with colorful paper confetti for a celebratory feel. Add some streamers for an extra pop of color. Making this bottle will encourage your children to explore color combinations and also trigger their visual senses.

Rainbows

A rainbow-themed sensory bottle is made with colorful string, beads, or feathers. This will help children explore their sense of sight and touch. As an extension activity, ask children to name the colors they see in their sensory bottles and use a rainbow chart or book to help develop their color recognition skills.

Snow globe

A snow globe is an ideal project for wintertime. You need glitter and tiny toy figurines for this bottle. This sensory bottle will bring a little winter wonderland into the classroom as children observe the glitter “snow” settling around their chosen characters.

Nature exploration

Create a mini nature exploration sensory bottle by filling it with leaves, sticks, rocks, flowers, and other natural items. This sensory bottle allows children to explore their visual and communication skills as they observe and talk about the objects inside the jar. In addition, they can also explore their sense of touch as they feel the different textures and shapes. Consider adding a few drops of essential oil for a natural, pleasant aroma.

Seasonal bottles

Celebrate different seasons by incorporating them into a sensory bottle. For spring, include some flowers or small eggs. For winter, add some white confetti for fake snow and mini pinecones. To make a Halloween-themed bottle, add some fake spiders, googly eyes, and glow-in-the-dark paint to make spooky designs.

Sticky sensory bottles

Consider making a sticky sensory bottle using corn syrup or glue. Children can explore the different textures before placing them in the bottle.


Download our free calendar template for early education programs for more  activity ideas!

How to make sensory bottles

After gathering all the needed materials, start making your sensory bottles. Keep in mind that the list of ideas mentioned here is not exhaustive. Here are other sensory bottle ideas.

Glitter sensory bottles

 

Plastic sensory bottles with blue, green, yellow and red glitter inside.

Source

Glitter sensory bottles are simple to make and offer lots of visual stimulation. To create one:

  • Combine hot water and glitter glue in a plastic bottle and shake until the glue is dissolved
  • Add extra glitter and secure the lid closed with super glue

Colorful rice alphabet sensory bottle

 

A rice sensory bottle with a black lid placed on a white paper with letters of the alphabet.

Source

Create a colorful and fun sensory bottle with rice. The beauty of this bottle is that you can easily adjust the amount of rice, depending on the desired effect.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Fill the bottle with half the desired amount of rice
  • Add some colorful lowercase and uppercase letter beads dice, and colored alphabet blocks
  • Add the remaining rice and mix again

Musical sensory bottle

 

Musical sensory bottle with colored beads

Source

This type of sensory bottle requires a few extra materials like beads and bells and will stimulate your children’s sense of hearing. It encourages exploration, creativity, and a sense of rhythm in the classroom.

To make a musical sensory bottle, follow these steps:

  • Put a handful of colorful beads in a bottle
  • Fill up half the bottle with water (optional)
  • Securely place the lid on the bottle and shake for a few minutes
  • Allow children to explore the different sounds they hear when they shake and turn the bottle
  • Invite them to use their imagination and create new rhythms, beats, and melodies with their sensory bottle

Light-up sensory bottle

Add some glow-in-the-dark tape to this bottle for a vibrant effect when the lights are turned off: 

  • Start with a clear plastic bottle and fill it with glitter, sequins, beads, or buttons and some water.
  • Secure the lid and make sure the seal is tight
  • Place two strips of glow-in-the-dark tape on the outside of the bottle
  • Ensure that the strips are securely glued down so they won't move when the bottle is turned
  • Finally, switch off the lights and have your children enjoy this glowing sensory bottle

Beach-themed sensory bottle

Explore a beach experience with this sensory sand bottle. 

  • Fill a plastic bottle halfway with sand
  • Add objects like rocks or shells for extra texture
  • Secure the lid and shake the bottle to mix the ingredients evenly

Night sky sensory bottle

 

A child's hands holding a bottle filled with blue and purple glitter and stars

Source

Make a sensory bottle that evokes the beauty of a star-filled night sky. The combination of glitter and oil creates an enchanting mixture that is both calming and captivating. You will need a clear plastic bottle, glitter, hair gel or oil, and small stars (purchased from a craft store).

Follow these instructions to assemble your bottle:

  • Fill a clear plastic bottle with hair gel or oil until it's 2/3 full
  • Add glitter to the bottle and shake it to ensure that the glitter is evenly distributed throughout the gel/oil mixture
  • Add as many small stars as you like. Make sure there are enough stars to be seen from all angles when you turn the bottle
  • Secure the lid on the bottle and give it a good shake to ensure that all ingredients are properly mixed

Ocean sensory bottle

Here is how to make an ocean-inspired sensory bottle:

  • Fill a plastic bottle halfway with oil
  • Fill a separate cup with water and add blue food coloring
  • Pour the cup of blue water into the bottle of oil until almost full
  • Swirl it around until it's thoroughly mixed

Consider adding glitter for extra sparkle. Secure the lid on the bottle and shake it to ensure that all your ingredients are evenly distributed.

Rainbow sensory bottle

 

A child holding a rainbow sensory bottle

Source

Make a vivid rainbow-themed sensory bottle that will bring color to any classroom. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a rainbow sensory bottle.

For an added twist, add small toys or seashells to explore different textures and stimulate your children’s creative thinking.

Making sensory bottles in the classroom

Sensory bottles provide an engaging, hands-on learning experience and encourage creativity. They can also have a calming effect. Encourage children to shake them and observe what happens inside whenever they feel frustrated or anxious. 

Bringing this fun activity into your classroom will help your preschoolers learn and explore. With proper planning, preparation, and materials, these simple sensory bottles will greatly impact your children's learning experience.

 

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