Calm down DIY 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. Homemade Sensory bottles can provide a way for 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 Sensory Bottles DIY
How to Use Calm Down Sensory Bottles
A DIY calm down sensory bottle is most often used to help calm a child when their emotions become overwhelming.
When you have a child with sensory sensitivities as I do, DIY calm down sensory bottles become commonplace in the home.
A sensory bottle DIY can also be used by a child (or an adult) learning to meditate.
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 writers’ 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 Sensory Bottles in a Calm Down Corner
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 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 the 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 our Frozen-Inspired Snow Storm Sensory Bottle.
It is so popular that someone used my idea and put a similar blue sensory bottle up for sale on Amazon… No surprise there!
You can find the copycat HERE.
Even with its popularity, many of the other sensory bottle DIYs listed below are all competing for the lead!
Making Sensory Bottles: Popular Homemade DIY Sensory Bottle Recipes
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
- Frozen Inspired Snowstorm Sensory Bottle
- Windy Fall Leaves Sensory Bottle
- Rainbow Galaxy Sensory Bottle
- DIY Ringer Game Sensory Bottle
- Glow in the Dark Ringer Game Sensory Bottle
- Sunburst Glitter Sensory Bottle Recipe
- Glow in the Dark Sensory Bottle
- Sea Shell Sensory Bottle
- Red, White, and Blue Stars Sensory Bottle
- Glowing Ghost Sensory Bottle
- Glow in the Dark Halloween Pumpkin Sensory Bottle
- Best Sensory Bottles for Every Holiday and Season
Best Sensory Bottle DIY Tips and Tricks
1. Don’t fill your DIY sensory bottle all the way up at first.
You may find you want to add more of something. Depending on the type of bottle, you may want to add more glitter or pieces to your discovery bottle.
2. Don’t glue the lid shut right away.
You may find that you still 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. 🙂
3. Take the air out of your homemade sensory bottle.
Many calm down bottles work and look a lot better when you take all the air out.
Oil and water sensory bottles, like this ocean in a bottle, are fine with a little extra air in them because the air creates fun bubbles in the bottle to watch, while viscous bottles with heavy pieces like our slow falling hearts sensory bottle work and look best without a lot of air bubbles.
DIY Glitter sensory bottles, like our mermaid tail sensory bottle, also work and look a lot better when there are no bubbles or air left in the bottle.
If you want to change how fast it moves you need to add or a little more glue, water, glitter, or hand soap etc to your sensory bottle DIY. Add more water if you want your sensory bottle DIY to move faster, and add clear liquid handsoap or glitter glue or clear tacky glue if you want it to move slower.
Keep topping your sensory bottle off with more water, clear liquid hand soap, glitter glue, or tacky glue while allowing the bubbles to rise to the top.
Once all the air has been removed, and you are happy with how it moves and the amounts of ingredients inside, you can close it up and glue it shut.
Related: Best Parenting Books
Beyond Calm Down DIY Sensory Bottles: More Self-Regulation Strategies for Kids
Below you can find more of our favorite self-regulation strategies to help keep the peace in your home or classroom.
Books and Games That Help Kids Understand Their Feelings and Emotions
One of our favorite self-regulation strategies for children is to read books that help kids understand their feelings and play social-emotional development games.
Both techniques provide a fun way to help our children learn about their feelings and emotions and how to self-regulate.
Click on the links above to see our favorite feelings books and games for kids. We have separated them into age groups so you can easily find the book or game that would be right for your children.
Yoga Practice for Kids
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!
Time in Nature
As a society, we suffer from nature deficit disorder, but studies have shown that spending time in nature can promote health and happiness. The Japanese call this practice forest bathing.
The Power of Rhythm and Routine
Following a daily and weekly routine or rhythm can both help your household run smoothly, and keep emotional meltdowns at bay–Mom and dad included!
Click on the link to learn how to plan your daily routine and download our Free printable planner!
Related: Anger Management Books for Kids
Homemade Sensory Bottles DIY 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!
Relax Bottle/Time Out Timer – My Crazy Blessed Life explains how to make and use sensory bottles as calm down jars and timeout timer.
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.
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.
Sensory Bottles DIY Ideas for Kids
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!
Have a look at this collection of the best sensory bottles for every holiday and season for even more sensory bottle DIY ideas!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
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
The One Essential Tool You Need To Keep You and the Kids Happy!
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Nell has over 20 years of experience working with children and is the founder of Rhythms of Play. She believes in the power of the imagination, learning through play, making this world a greener place to live, and getting outside in all seasons! Learn more…