Looking for a fun and easy sensory play activity for your kids? This tutorial shows you the best way to make DIY sensory bottles that work well and look amazing. They’re even great for adults too!
We all know that feeling when our kids get to a point where it feels like nothing will calm them down.
It can be so frustrating and exhausting!
Calm down bottles are a great idea to keep in your parenting tool belt for these difficult moments.
I had heard about this sensory bottle idea for helping children cope with big emotions, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally decided to give it a try.
Our daughter has autism and I have ADHD, so as a neurodivergent household with various sensory needs, we have really benefitted from the calming effect these sensory bottles provide.
Most people make them for toddlers, but they’re great for kids of all ages, even adults!
When I’m feeling my brain and anxiety start to swirl out of control, I love to shake up one of these glitter bottles and stare at it for a minute or two.
I was skeptical at first, but it really does help me to get back into the moment and refocus.
If you’ve never made DIY sensory bottles, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to make them.
There are a ton of options online, and after a few frustrating attempts, I finally figured out a method that worked great!
In this post, I’ll walk you through my journey making these calming bottles – the successes, failures, and lessons learned along the way – so that you can make your very own sensory bottles for your children.
This post is all about how to make DIY Sensory Bottles.
What is a Sensory Bottle?
A sensory bottle is a fun toy that encourages creativity and exploration.
It’s also a great tool for calming children when they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed. Some people will call these a calm down jar for this very reason.
A sensory bottle is simply a closed container (often made of plastic or glass) that is filled with items such as beads, glitter, and/or metallic objects suspended in a liquid (often times oil and water).
When the bottle is shaken or turned upside down, the items mix and swirl, giving people something visually captivating and calming to observe.
This type of activity provides children with a soothing activity that has a calming effect but also sparks their curiosity.
The fun part is these bottles can be easily modified to fit your family’s unique needs – adding different items or changing the type of liquid all help to create a unique experience every time.
DIY Sensory Bottles With Corn Syrup
There are typically 3 main components that make up these fun sensory bottles. A clear bottle, the liquid ingredients, and then the small items that move within the liquid.
Within these 3 components, there are all sorts of different ingredients you can use.
For clear plastic bottles, many people use plastic Voss water bottles.
I could not find any of the Voss bottles locally to me so I opted for some Core Hydration bottles. These can be purchased from your local convenience store or you can find them online on Amazon as well.
On my first attempt, I started with some bottles marketed for sensory bottles on Amazon and they ended up leaking so I ditched those and switched to an actual water bottle.
There are so many different ingredients you can use so it’s fun to experiment and figure out what works best for you.
Now you can decide what types of small items you want to put into your bottles.
I opted just for glitter (and beads in one bottle) because I wanted the bottles to last a while and I thought softer items like pom poms or pipe cleaners might get kind of gross after a bit.
But the sky’s the limit here, and some people make some pretty sweet discovery bottles with various craft supplies.
The ingredients I used in my glitter sensory bottles:
- Core Hydration Plastic Water Bottle
- Clear Corn Syrup
- Warm Water
- Unicorn Sequins
- Touch of Dish Soap
How To Make Glitter Sensory Bottles:
The first thing you will want to do for these simple sensory bottles is to peel the label off the empty bottle you’re using and wash the bottle with soap and after.
The Core hydration bottles were nice because there wasn’t any adhesive on the label so I didn’t have to deal with any unwanted stickiness on the bottle.
Next, select the type of glitter and other materials you want to use in your bottle.
Most any simple glitter will work but I recommend avoiding the super fine glitter as that will tend to clump together and stick more to the sides of the bottle.
You can see in the image above, I choose pink, gold, and silver glitter along with some purple and silver unicorn sequins to make the bottle just a little more fun.
My preschooler was amazed to see the little sparkly unicorns floating around in the bottle.
I had the sequins with my craft supplies already, but I did find some other cute ones on Amazon. You can also search your local craft stores for other fun options.
Put all of your dry ingredients like the glitter and sequins into your clean plastic bottle first.
Be sure not to put too much glitter in. Filling the bottle about 1/2 inch from the bottom with glitter should be plenty!
It will be okay if you add a little bit more, but if there’s too much, the glitter will be more likely to clump together.
Feel free to experiment with the amount that works best for you.
After you put your glitter in your sensory jar, add just a little bit of warm water to swirl the glitter around a bit.
This will help prevent it from clumping when you add in the corn syrup.
It doesn’t have to be much at all. Just enough to mix it up a little bit.
Now it’s time to add the clear corn syrup. You can add as much or as little of this as you want.
I really like how the glitter flows so slowly with the corn syrup. On my first sensory bottle attempt, I used baby oil instead and the glitter just moved way too fast for my preference.
The more corn syrup you add, the slower the items in your bottle will move around. I prefer to fill my bottle about 2/3 to 3/4 full with corn syrup because I like the glitter to fall slowly.
After you’ve filled the corn syrup to your desired level, you can now finish your bottle by filling the rest with warm water. You can use just regular tap water from your sink for this.
Before you completely fill up the bottle, I recommend leaving just a little bit of space at the top.
This way you can put the lid on and shake it up a bit to see how you like it.
You can then add a bit more corn syrup if you want things to move slower or a little more water if you’re happy with the speed.
You can also add just a couple of small drops of dish soap to help prevent the glitter from sticking together and to the sides of the bottle.
Once you’re done, it’s a good idea to glue the cap on with some super glue.
The last thing you want is for your toddler to unscrew the cap and dump a sticky, glittery mess all over your couch.
As I mentioned earlier, the first bottles I made leaked and I had already glued the caps on so I had to toss the whole bottle rather than being able to reuse the ingredients.
This time I shook up the bottles really well and turned them upside down and every which way to make sure there weren’t any leaks before gluing the cap on.
You can use any type of super glue for this but I happened to have the E6000 on hand already.
Explore more homemade sensory bottle options:
Congrats! You’ve completed your glittery calming bottle. It’s sure to be a huge hit with your kids.
Once you know the basics to create homemade sensory bottles, you can have fun exploring different options and materials.
This is a great learning activity to do with older kids as well. They can experiments with various materials in the bottles to see how it looks and works.
In the image above, you can see we tried adding plastic beads to one of our bottles.
When you shake up the bottle, you can’t see the beads all that well but my toddler still likes looking and trying to spot them. And, that’s all part of the fun!
Check out some of the other sensory bottle projects including our DIY oil and water sensory bottle.
Next up, I really want to try making one with some seashells from our recent trip to the beach!