DIY Calm down sensory bottles are a useful and much-needed calming tool for anxious children with sensory needs and sensitivities, and kids that need help with self-regulation skills. They also provide a way for all children (and adults) to engage in portable no mess “safe” sensory play. Older children can begin to examine the inner workings of the sensory bottle, while younger children can investigate items that are not yet safe for them to touch.
Everything You Need to Know About DIY Calm Down Sensory Bottles
Related: Anger Management Books for Kids
How to Use DIY Calm Down Sensory Bottles
A DIY calm down sensory bottle can be used to help calm a child when their emotions become overwhelming. they can also be used by a child (or an adult) learning to meditate.
When you have a child with sensory sensitivities like I do, DIY calm down sensory bottles become commonplace in the home.
Focusing on the objects in the calm down jar will 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 DIY sensory bottles sitting on my desk to help me calm down, alleviate anxiety, focus, and help clear away writer’s block.
Yes, they really work!
A DIY calm down jar can also be used as a timer for “time-outs.” I haven’t personally tried this method but it sounds simple. The sensory bottle is shaken and the child is told to watch the glitter. When it settles they can get up again. No muss, no fuss.
How to Use a Sensory Bottle in a Calm Down Corner
Instead of time out’s we have a calm down corner with pillows, sensory bottles, and books. We encourage our daughter to visit her calm down corner whenever she needs to “start fresh.” It’s not always easy to get her to retreat to her corner when she needs to… but it always works.
She knows that sensory bottles will break if they are thrown. If she abuses the items in the corner, those items disappear until she shows us that she can use them appropriately.
Pillows are for hitting, throwing and screaming into, books and sensory bottles are for viewing, not throwing. Pretty simple. We keep our sensory bottles in a wine bottle rack in her corner that works beautifully!
How to Make Calm Down Sensory Bottles
There is a lot of science that goes into making DIY calm down sensory bottles. The type of ingredients and amounts used will determine properties of the sensory 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 DIY sensory bottles before you have a vague idea of what you are doing.
Yes, they are really easy to make… but it is also very easy to see how you could have made them better after you’ve made a few.
My most popular sensory bottle to date is my Frozen-Inspired Snow Storm Sensory Bottle, but the others below are all competing for the lead!
Most Popular Sensory Bottle Tutorials
Click on the links below to see the step-by-step directions for each DIY sensory bottle recipe.
- Rainstick Musical Sensory Bottle
- Glittering Mermaid Tail Sensory Bottle
- Slow Falling Hearts Sensory Bottle
- Butterfly Sensory Bottle
- Nature Inspired Sensory Bottles
- Windy Fall Leaves Sensory Bottle
- Rainbow Galaxy Sensory Bottle
- Rainbow Loom Band Ringer Game Sensory Bottle
- Glow in the Dark Loom Band Ringer Game
- Glow in the Dark Loom Band Sensory Bottle
- Sea Shell Sensory Bottle
- Red, White, and Blue Stars Sensory Bottle
- Glow in the Dark Ghost Sensory Bottle
- Glow in the Dark Halloween Pumpkin Sensory Bottle
Tips to Make the Best DIY Calm Down Sensory Bottles
1. Don’t fill your DIY sensory bottle all the way up at first.
You may find you want to add a little more glue, water, glitter, hand soap etc to your sensory bottle. When you are happy with your sensory bottle put the lid on. Wait for your sensory bottle to settle before topping it off again.
2. Take the air out of your sensory bottle.
Many calm down 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 your sensory bottle off and letting the bubbles rise to the top. Once all the air has been removed you can close it up and glue it shut.
3. Don’t glue the lid shut right away.
You may find that you want to make changes to your DIY sensory bottle. I know I have.
Play with your sensory bottle for a day or so to make sure that you’re happy with it. Then you can top it off, glue the lid shut, and hand it over to your children.
You may find that you don’t want to give it up. If that’s the case make another one–it will be even easier the second time. 🙂
Beyond Calm Down Sensory Bottles: More Self-Regulation Ideas for Kids
We also like to read books that help kids understand their feelings and play social-emotional development games as a fun way to help our children learn about their feelings and emotions. Click on the links to see our favorite feelings books and games for kids separated into age groups!
Another great way to teach kids to learn to self-regulate is through the practice of yoga. Click on the link to learn how to get your kids started today!
The last way our family likes to keep our household calm and happy is through the power of routines and rhythms. Create regular routines and family rhythms to help keep your household running smoothly and emotional meltdowns at bay. (Mom and dad included!)
Click on the link to learn how to plan your daily rhythm for success and download our Free printable planner!
DIY Calm Down Sensory Bottle Resources
I have been having a lot of fun learning about and experimenting with all the 101 ways you can make a sensory bottle. 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 explains how she makes and uses them as a calm down bottle and timeout timer.
She is the first to have come up with the safer alternative of making sensory bottles in unbreakable recycled 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.
More DIY Sensory Bottle Resources
6 Ways to Make a Sensory Bottle — Katie from 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 a few other types of sensory bottles on this site worth taking a look at. As an example, the alphabet sensory bottle that you see pictured below was inspired by her alphabet discovery bottle. Hop on over and have a look around at all of the awesome ways Katie has made discovery bottles.
Sensory Bottles: The What, Why and How – Dayna from Lemon Lime adventures is an amazing resource for all things sensory and calm down bottles are no exception. 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 “safe” sensory play and to calm an anxious child. An older child can examine the inner workings of the sensory bottle and the items placed inside, while a younger child can investigate items that are not yet safe for them to handle.
Make some for your kids today!
If You Liked DIY Sensory Bottles, You May Also Like:
- Yoga for Kids: Tips for Getting Started
- How to Raise a Helper
- 8 Reasons I Allow My Child To Go Barefoot
- All Season Hand and Fingerprint Tree
- Kids Books That Teach Important Life Lessons
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