How to make an easy and colorful ocean sensory bottle for your toddler or preschooler. Tips and instructions for making an affordable fish sensory bottle.
Now that we have a full blown toddler on our hands, we’ve been getting into sensory play a lot more.
Sensory bins definitely form the bread and butter of the sensory play and messy play we do. Our daughter loves getting messy, sticking her hands into the different bins we make, and generally turning our kitchen into a disaster zone.
Recently, we’ve discovered sensory bottles, too.
Sensory bottles are a perfect tool for dealing with those big feelings and big frustrations of toddlerhood. In fact, sensory bottles are sometimes also called calm down bottles. The slow-moving objects, suspended in liquid, are hypnotic to watch.
And that calming, hypnotic-ness can be a huge helper when you’re faced with a toddler meltdown.
If you’re interested in making your own ocean sensory bottle, keep reading for my tips and instructions.
Why Make an Ocean Sensory Bottle?
Little kids are naturally inquisitive and curious. They LOVE learning, and do so darn much of it in the early years.
I want to encourage that learning, and sensory bottles are a great way to introduce different subjects and vocabulary, in addition to being a good calm down tool.
I came up with the idea for this ocean sensory bottle during a trip to the ocean. My daughter wanted to go swimming so badly, but the water was far too cold and we weren’t prepared.
Since she couldn’t actually go swimming, we started talking about what lives inside the ocean. We’ve ordered some fish books for toddlers, too, which encourages her enthusiasm for the subject.
Tips for Using this Ocean Sensory Bottle
Sensory bottles are fun on their own, but they’re also a great add-on to get your child interested in a new subject, or delve deeper into something they’ve shown an interest in.
We like to use our sensory bottle in combination with different fish books for toddlers.
Our daughter also loves the Goodnight Our World series of books, making Goodnight Fish a natural choice!
Tips for Making an Ocean Sensory Bottle
Choosing the Right Sensory Bottle
Making a sensory bottle is actually pretty easy.
The first trick is choosing the right bottle. You need a bottle that has a wide enough mouth, so you can fit all your fillers in easily. I recommend using a plastic bottle, as glass gets a bit heavy for toddlers to pick up and hold. And of course, there’s the risk of glass breaking.
Many moms I know use empty VOSS Water bottles, but you can also buy empty sensory bottles on Amazon.
Choosing Fillers for Your Ocean Sensory Bottle
We found our fish and plant fillers on Amazon – you could also look at a Dollar Store or hobby store like Michaels.
Look for fish that aren’t too big, as you’ll need to fit them into the bottle. We used the toy fish from this set and added aquarium plants and an octopus we had from Wild Republic sets we’ve bought in the past.
We also added some craft shells we already had in the house.
We used 1 x 5 oz. bottle of clear glue for this sensory bottle, which gave us the right amount of “flow” or resistance so the fish float slowly. Make sure you use clear glue only – we like this Elmer’s clear school glue.
You’ll also need to think through how to keep the bottle tightly sealed so your little one doesn’t open it. Depending on your child, you might want to use a bit of hot glue to seal the lid.
When it comes time to add the water, we find room temperature water works best. This may depend somewhat on your climate though, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Other Optional Fillers for Your Ocean Sensory Bottle
We kept this sensory bottle pretty simple, but there are lots of ways you could jazz it up a bit:
- Sand – if you choose to add sand, I suggest you only use a small amount because it can cloud up the bottle if you use too much. If it’s store bought sand, make sure you rinse it first. Some store-bought sand is really dusty, which will also cloud the water! We added a bit of sand to ours, which you can see in the close-up photo below.
- Glitter – glitter looks amazing in sensory bottles, because it gets suspended in the glue, adding some extra layers of mesmerizing!
- Food coloring – depending on which fish fillers you choose, you may want to add some food coloring to make your ocean blue.
How to Make this Ocean Sensory Bin
- Start with a clean sensory bottle or empty VOSS water bottle.
- Empty 1 x 5 oz. bottle of Elmer’s clear school glue into the bottle.
- Add the fish toys, artificial plants, sea shells, and other optional fillers.
- Fill the bottle with water.
- Close the bottle and secure the bottle lid with tape or glue.
- Shake the bottle well until all of the glue, water, and add-ins mix in well together.
Voila – it’s time for sensory bottle play!
I hope you liked this craft and find it as fun and easy to make as we did. If you have other parent friends who are interested in sensory bottles, please share this post with them!