Sensory bottles are an inexpensive, creative and clean way to provide sensory play for children of all ages. Sensory bottles are typically filled with materials that stimulate the senses and create a fun experience for children such as glitter, beans, pom poms and pasta noodles. Because the bottles are sealed, children are able to visually interact with the materials and still gain the essential sensory play needed in their early developmental stages – without all the mess and choking hazards! Sensory bottles have also been proven to provide a calming experience for children and allow them to better control their emotional responses.

With the huge array of stimulants in a child care setting, children’s senses can easily get overwhelmed. Sensory bottles are a great way for children to improve their focus and engage their senses in a calm and soothing manner. There are hundreds of sensory bottle recipes online, all of which offer different experiences for children such as visual perception, auditory processing, and/or scientific observation. All kinds of sensory bottles are important for children who are actively enhancing their sensory exploration.

You will find many sensory bottles that are filled with liquids, such as baby oil or water, and are mixed with small, floating materials. These are typically used to provide a calming experience for children and can be used as a “time-out” tool. A popular and easy sensory bottle for time-out purposes only includes glitter and water. Observing the sensory bottles allows children to focus their attention on the materials inside and regulate their breathing. This type of sensory bottle can be seen below. You can also fill sensory bottles with dry materials. These offer an auditory experience for children and are typically filled with noisy materials such as rice, beans and beads.

With the huge array of stimulants in a child care setting, children’s senses can easily get overwhelmed. Sensory bottles are a great way for children to improve their focus and engage their senses in a calm and soothing manner.

Sensory bottles do not have to be a complex or expensive project. The great thing about sensory bottles is they can be created with very little effort and filled with materials you probably have lying around your house. The bottles seen to the left were made with a $1 plastic bottle, glitter, glue and colored pom poms. Because this project is so simple, your children can assist in creating them, which engages their fine motor skills – win win! Try out different varieties of sensory bottles, including both dry and liquid recipes. Some items to try out in your own sensory bottles could include small blocks, confetti, sequins, water beads, sand, and rocks.

To create seasonal projects, let your children create sensory bottles for every holiday. Seasonal sensory bottles are a great way for children to enjoy the different holidays and seasons and could enhance their descriptive language by describing each new sensory bottle in detail.

We encourage you and your children to get creative with your sensory bottles! Let your children decide what types of materials to use – they may suggest materials you never would have though of. Such simple ingredients can supply hours of entertainment and focus (or maybe just for a time-out here and there). We would love for you to share your creations with us on Facebook!

Frighteningly Fun Sensory Bottles

What you’ll need

  • Plastic bottle
  • Super glue
  • Colored pom poms
  • Glitter glue
  • Loose glitter
  • Hot water
  • Food coloring (optional)


Always start with a clean bottle or jar. You can purchase the bottle we used from many craft stores for under $2. Water bottles with flush-fitting lids, spice jars, and containers with small lids are also great options. Make sure to remove the bottle label before you begin.

Pour a little bit of hot water into your bottle. Make sure the water is hot! The glue will not dissolve correctly with cold water.

Add 1 tablespoon of glitter glue. A little goes a very long way. If you use too much, your materials will have a hard time moving around. Mix the glue in with the hot water.

Full up the rest of your bottle with hot water, leaving about 4 inches at the top.

Before you add pom poms or other fun visual items, make sure to run them under water first to let any trapped air escape. This will help you avoid having air bubbles in your bottle.

After you have added all of the materials that you would like, fill the bottle to the cap with hot water. Time to glue the lid on! Make sure you are completely finished creating your sensory bottle then use super glue to secure the lid on tight.

Tips and Tricks

There are many different water and/or oil combinations you can use to make your sensory bottles. We chose a water-base for our example because if for some reason it breaks, water is easier to clean up. We have seen amazing examples of sensory bottles that use mineral oil, glycerin (which you can buy in grocery stores or online), and even corn syrup. Make sure your sensory bottle is not too heavy or large for little hands. Use smaller containers for younger children to minimize the risk of accidents.

For more Halloween fun, check out our Halloween Activities for Child Care Providers. We have put together some spooky delights to help child care providers plan their Halloween festivities! You will find printable Halloween party invitations, a printable children’s Halloween activity book, Halloween recipes, and Halloween crafts. Enjoy!