When you have a child with sensory issues like I do calm down sensory bottles become commonplace in the home. But they are not just for children with sensory sensitivities, sensory processing disorder, or children on the autism spectrum.
Sensory bottles provide a way for all children (and adults) to engage in portable no mess sensory play. Older children can begin to examine the inner workings of the bottle and the items placed inside while younger children can investigate items that are not yet safe for them to touch.
My most popular to date is this Frozen-Inspired Snowstorm Sensory Bottle.
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Calm down sensory bottles can be used to help calm a child when their emotions become overwhelming or as a meditation technique for children.
Focusing on the objects in the bottle help a child calm down and focus their attention.
As the bottle clears so does the mind.
They work wonders for adults too! I have a few sitting on my desk to help me calm down, alleviate anxiety, meditate, focus, and help clear away writers block.
Yes, they really work!
Calm down jars and bottles are also commonly used as a timer for those that use “time-outs” as a discipline technique. I haven’t personally tried this method but it sounds simple.
The bottle is shaken and the child is told to watch the glitter. When it settles they can get up again. No muss, no fuss.
Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
There is a lot of science that goes into making calm down sensory bottles. The type of ingredients and amounts used will determine properties of the bottle including how long it takes to settle. This is important if you will be using it as a timer. Make them with your children for a great science lesson.
You really need to make a few of your own before you even have a vague idea of what you are doing.
Yes, they are very easy to make… but it is also very easy to see how you could have made them better after you’ve made a few.
Calm Down Sensory Bottles: Tips
1. Don’t fill them all the way up at first.
You may find you want to add a little more glue, water, glitter, hand soap etc. Once you know you are happy with it put the lid on and then wait for them to settle before topping them off again.
2. Take the air out.
Many bottles work and look a lot better when you take all the air out. Oil and water sensory bottles are fine with a little extra air in them while viscous bottles with heavy pieces work best without a lot of air bubbles. Keep topping it off and letting the bubbles rise to the top before you close it up for the last time.
3. Don’t glue the lids shut right away.
You may find that you want to make changes. I know I have.
Play with them for a day or so to make sure that you’re happy with it before topping it off, gluing the lid shut, and handing it to your children.
You may find you don’t want to give it up. If that’s the case make another one–it will be even easier the second time. 🙂
Calm Down Sensory Bottles: Resources
I have been having a lot of fun learning about and experimenting with the hundred and one ways that sensory bottles can be put together. I’ve found a few awesome resources to share with you.
Below you will find some of the most influential articles on calm down sensory bottles that I have found. These articles will help you better understand the use of sensory bottles and how to make them. They worked for me!
Mind Jars — Here We Are Together calls sensory bottles mind jars. She explains, “A Mind Jar is a meditation tool to use whenever a child feels stressed, overwhelmed or upset. Imagine the glitter as your thoughts. When you shake the jar, imagine your head full of whirling thoughts, then watch them slowly settle while you calm down.”
Relax Bottle/Time Out Timer – My Crazy Blessed Life seems to have been influenced by Here We Are Together’s “Mind Jar” in her write up. She does a great job of explaining how she makes and uses them as a calm down bottle and time out timer. She seems to be the first to have come up with the safer alternative of placing them in unbreakable plastic bottles and using hot water to help them mix better.
Why Sensory “Calm Down” Bottles Work – Mama OT shares some amazing tips and insights about the benefits and uses of sensory bottles.
6 Ways to Make a Sensory Bottle — Preschool Inspirations has put together an amazing resource for putting together and troubleshooting basic glitter calm down bottles. I refer to this one a lot. There are many more types of sensory bottles on this site worth taking a look at. As an example, the alphabet bottle that you see pictured above was inspired by her alphabet discovery bottle. Hop on over and have a look around at all of the awesome ways she has made sensory and discovery bottles.
Sensory Bottles: The What, Why and How – Lemon Lime adventures is an amazing resource for all things sensory and calm down bottles are no exception. Dayna has another article titled Sensory Bottles: Free Printable Materials List that has really helped me come up with new and fun sensory bottles. She also has a wonderful collection of sensory bottles to try. Dayna has co-authored Sensory Processing 101 which contains a lot of information about sensory bottles and more! Click on the link above to learn more about it and/or buy the digital version. To purchase the paperback click on this link.
Calm down sensory bottles are used for portable no mess sensory play, to calm an anxious child, to help children learn to meditate, and as a timeout timer.
There are many more resources available to help learn more about their uses and how to make them. Those listed above have been my primary go to’s when it comes to putting calm down sensory bottles together.
Next, I will be sharing lots of my sensory bottle creations like my Frozen-Inspired Snow Storm Sensory Bottle and the others below. Sign up for my newsletter below so you don’t miss the rest!
More Sensory Bottles
- Glow in the Dark Loom Band Sensory Bottle
- DIY Rainbow Loom Band Ringer Game Sensory Bottle
- Butterfly Sensory Bottle
- Sea Shell Sensory Bottle
- Rainbow Galaxy Sensory Bottle
- Slow Falling Hearts Sensory Bottle
- Nature Inspired Sensory Bottles
- Glow in the Dark Pet Fish Sensory Bottle
- DIY Rainstick Musical Sensory Bottle
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