As lockdown has progressed I’ve noticed the increase in dialogue about children’s mental wellbeing and the anxieties that many are feeling which inspired this afternoon’s activity. I’ve seen lots of variations of sensory bottles before and when my eldest was a baby I made a really simple one with coloured water and glitter which he enjoyed for a short time. But I have wanted to make some more again for both my boys with the purpose of providing a tool to help with providing a sense of calm and peace in the craziness of the times we live in and here I wanted to share with you all how we went about it.

Here is what we used-

  • Bottles with a secure lid (we used a juice bottle)
  • Screw lid mason jars
  • Clear Hand soap
  • food colour
  • Glitter
  • small craft accessories
  • Vegetable Oil
How we did it-

We started by adding a small amount of water into each bottle and then added a couple of drops of liquid food colouring into each (the boys choosing what colours they wanted.


Next we added some glitter before adding a bottle of the clear hand soap into each bottle. We decided to use hand soap along with the water so that it changed the way in which the glitter and sparkles moved around in the liquid when being played with.

The soap filled up about half of the bottle so we topped the rest of the bottle up with more water and then added some extra sparkle using some small craft hearts and stars. Once completed I glued the bottle tops on using super glue to ensure that the bottles would not leak or were not able to be opened during play.

The boys loved the process of making these, watching as first the water turned a different colour and then the patterns that were made as we added the soap.

For the final bottle we decided to used vegetable oil with water instead of soap as I knew this would create a different reaction in the bottle. We followed the same process again and added glitter and some more craft stars and hey presto we made a lava lamp in a bottle.

My intention for making these bottles was to have something that each of the boys could have as their own which could be used when they become upset or frustrated which is how I explained it to my eldest. This is why you will also also find them called Calming Bottles. Kids (and adults) love to watch the contents of the bottle change as they move it around. The sparkle and glitter has a soothing sense to it and can give a child a different focus when needed.

Very young children can also benefit from an adapted version of the sensory bottle with the contents being put in a zip lock bag and secured. A baby can then explore the bag on the floor or a high chair, manipulating the contents by their hands and watching the changes to the contents as they touch it.

Lastly we used the two mason jars to make a similar sensory experience.

We simply used coloured water and glitter in the first one deciding on a rich blue colour to represent the night with the aim that it could be used as something to help relax a child before bed.

In the last mason jar (having seen this on Pinterest) we used some cotton wool along with coloured water and glitter to create a sparkly marbled effect.

First we layered the jar with cotton wool then poured a small amount of coloured water before a sprinkling of glitter.

We then continued this until the jar was full, adding a different colour to each layer.

This final jar doesn’t have the same impact as the other jar/bottles however is still a useful tool for a child to focus on when their emotions can be too much for them to manage.

We had great fun making these together and there was lots of talking throughout about what was happening in the bottles, how the glitter would settle at the bottom and then spread about the bottle when shaken and moved up and down.

My eldest was keen to take his to bed with him this evening and they will no doubt feature in his day tomorrow. They are a simple yet effective tool to use for some simple sensory play or as a child gets older as a tool to help them with the many feelings and emotions they face as they go through their days.

Why not give it a go yourselves.

There are LOADS more Messy play and craft ideas over at our blog.

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