Calm down sensory bottles are a useful and much-needed calming tool for anxious children with sensory needs and sensitivities 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 bottle and the items placed inside while younger children can investigate items that are not yet safe for them to touch.
Everything You Need to Know About Calm Down Sensory Bottles
Related: Anger Management Books for Kids
How to Use Calm Down Sensory Bottles
A DIY calm down sensory bottle can be used to help calm a child when their emotions become overwhelming or as a meditation technique for children. 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 sitting on my desk to help me calm down, alleviate anxiety, meditate, 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 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.
How to Use Sensory or Discovery Bottles in a Calm Down Corner
Instead of time out’s we have a calm down corner with pillows, sensory bottles, and books that our daughter likes to hang out in 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.
If she abuses the items in the corner, those items disappear for a while until she shows us 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!
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. We have found that creating regular routines and family rhythms helps us keep our 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!
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 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.
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.
- 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
DIY 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. 🙂
DIY 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 timeout timer.
She also seems to be 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.
DIY Calm Down Sensory Bottles: More 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 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 sensory and 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, to calm an anxious child, and to help children learn to meditate.
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