Create engaging discovery bottles for your babies and toddlers by using recycled and everyday materials from around the house! Sensory Bottles are cheap to make, so much fun, long lasting, and can easily be adapted to create exciting and intriguing sensory play experiences for your little ones.
What Are Sensory Bottles?
Sensory bottles go by many different names – calm down jars, discovery bottles, sensory jars, and so much more. But, no matter the name, the concept is the same.
Sensory bottles are containers that are filled with ingredients and materials for kids to explore without all the mess that is usually associated with crafts and sensory play.
What Age Are Sensory Bottles For?
Sensory bottles are a great way to develop curiosity, exploration, and imagination in children from babies all the way up through preschool, kindergarten, and even adults.
What Are Sensory Bottles Used For?
Sensory play is extremely important in helping kids safely explore their environments while encouraging their brains to make important connections. It is a fun way to engage your preschooler in hands on play!
In addition to the sensory elements such as visual, tactile, and proprioceptive input, discovery bottles also expose children to a wide array of concepts and skills.
Benefits of Sensory Bottles: What Do Sensory Bottles Teach?
Social Skills: problem solving, sharing, communicating
Math Skills: matching, shape recognition, counting, position, measurements, and spatial reasoning.
Pre-Reading Skills: Letters and sounds.
Vocabulary Skills: Descriptive language, expressive language, receptive language, and following directions.
Fine Motor Skills: Little hands get a big work out manipulating sensory bottles and the items used in them.
Science Skills: Introduction to the scientific method – making observations, asking questions, testing a hypothesis or prediction.
And, since discovery bottles are so easily modified you could easily adapt a sensory bottle to meet your child’s specific needs.
Materials for Sensory Bottles
You might be asking yourself, what can I put in a sensory bottle? When it comes to making a sensory bottle, there are two main items that all discovery bottles need – a sturdy empty water bottle with a wide mouth (such as a Voss water bottle) and a hot glue gun (or super glue).
In the past we have tried out a couple different types of wide mouthed plastic bottles and these have been our favorite to use for an empty bottle by far.
From there let your creativity roll! Some of our favorite fillers and materials to use in sensory bottles are:
- Water Beads
- Clear Glue
- Drops of Food Coloring
- Alphabet Beads
- Small Toys
- Corn Syrup
- Pom Poms
- and Googly Eyes
For more ideas on items that you can put into your sensory bottles check out our post on 100+ fillers for sensory bins — almost all of these items work well in a bin or bottle!
When To Use a Sensory Bottle?
Sensory bottles can be used to help a child (or adult!) calm down and/or be used to help younger children safely explore smaller items.
The visual cue of watching items settle and the use of the sense of proprioception when shaking the bottle is a fantastic calming strategy for many.
However, sensory bottles can also be used for exploration. Placing items in a large bottle with a safely secured lid (that cannot be removed) is a creative way to let young children examine items you might not otherwise want them to be exploring (such as buttons). Just keep in mind that with young children supervision should always be required.
How Long Do Sensory Bottles Last?
Sensory bottles can last for years! There really isn’t a quick and easy answer as to how long a sensory bottle can last as that will vary based on the materials you put into your discovery bottle and the quality of the bottle that you choose.
If you are using wet ingredients inside your sensory bottle, adding non-toxic preservatives such as glycerine can help extend their life as well as picking out a plastic bottle that can handle little kids tossing and dropping it as they explore.