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Sensory Shake-Up

Sensory bottles are fun to make, fun to play with, and the instructional possibilities are endless. Here we have examples of liquid, objects, and nature sensory bottles.

Red glitter liquid in a bottle

Using plastic bottles. craft store supplies. or nature treasures, let’s create some fun items to shake up learning time and build the sensory efficiency skills necessary for literacy development! The creativity of my colleagues always amazes me. In the last two years, we’ve participated in many events where we’ve had the opportunity to engage with families and their very young children. The simplest ideas always bring the biggest “a-ha moments” for families! These sensory bottles are fun to make, fun to play with, and the instructional possibilities are endless. To create a sensory bottle, find any empty plastic bottle, fill it with items, glue the top down, and watch the fun! Below are just a few ideas, but there’s no limit to the materials or construction of these bottles.

Liquid Sensory Bottles

These bottles are great to stimulate looking, tracking, grasping, movement, and crossing mid-line. You can create these in different colors or keep the liquid clear and use colored materials inside. Adding baby oil creates an extra layer of density to the bottle and creates a floating effect. 

Blue glitter liquid in a bottle
Red glitter sensory bottle

Some materials to consider include:

  • Baby Oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Glitter
  • Tube Confetti or regular confetti
  • Small objects
Materials to make the liquid sensory bottles that include confetti shapes, glitter, food coloring, and baby oil.

Object Sensory Bottles

These bottles can be made from any objects small enough to fit inside of the bottle you’re working with. Using items or colors that are of interest to the child can enhance visual and auditory efficiency development. 

Three clear bottles with Legos in two and blue metal bells in the other

Some materials to consider include:

  • Beads (foam, plastic, glittery)
  • Marbles
  • Legos
  • Dice
  • Pompoms
  • Eraser tops
  • Beans, rice, pasta
  • Small cubes
  • Buttons

Nature Sensory Bottles

Creating a sensory bottle after a nature walk or a trip to a new place aligns with the skills mentioned above but is also a great way to remember the experience with little ones. 

Some materials to consider include:

  • Leaves
  • Rocks
  • Acorns
  • Sand
  • Shells
  • Sticks
  • Seeds

As with anything we do, keep child safety in mind. Some of these ideas could create a potential risk for choking, so children should be closely monitored when using these materials, and take care to ensure that tops are secured appropriately.

Extension Ideas

  • Sequence an assortment of bottles by color, size, sound, or characteristics of the items inside. 
  • Allow children to make their own sensory bottle following verbal single or multi-step instructions.
  • Allow children to choose the items they like best for the bottles to practice self-determination.
  • Ask older students to create bottles for your younger learners using a “recipe” or list of steps printed in their preferred medium. 

Learn more by reading: Sensory Friendly Storytime

The Love Bugs cover with the title and textured hearts.

Love Bugs Book

Plant in a small container with a large adapted visual on top in red for ease of viewing. A water sprayer is next to it.

Sensory Gardens for Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments: Cultivating Inclusive Learning Environments

Young son touching his mom's face next to him while outside.

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