Activity and Sensory Bottles for Young Children

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Alphabet Bottle
Fill a small plastic bottle with corn syrup, colorful letter confetti and some marbles. Use duct tape to make sure the cap stays on. The marbles add interest and break apart the letters if they clump together. Keep this one at the writing table.

Color of the Month
Have a color of the month (or week) area in the classroom and use a variety of shampoos and hair gels to fill the bottles.

Water Bottles vs Gel
Make sets of bottles filled with different things like dried beans, curling ribbon, glitter and tissue paper. In one bottle from each set add water in addition to the beans ribbon, glitter and tissue paper. Observe what happened inside each bottle and record observations over a few days time. Watch the bean bottles and the tissue paper bottles. As the natural gases formed in the wet beans the bottle started to hiss at us. Just for really gross fun open the wet bean bottle and smell it! It smells awful!! Try water with seashells or water with marbles

Magnet Bottles

  1. Rice with metal objects that will be attracted by a magnet. The kids use a magnetic wand to uncover all the hidden objects. (Be sure to leave room for the rice to move around or the objects will be unable to come to the surface)
  2. Fine metal shavings. The students use the magnetic wand with it also.
  3. Fill the bottle half full with sand or salt. Add pins, paper clips, and small metallic objects to the sand and shake. Let the children put a small magnet on the side of the bottle and try to find hidden objects by slowly dragging the magnet.


Sand with seashells and small sea things

Ocean Wave
1/4 bottle of colored water (mix this part first), add mineral oil until the bottle is 2/3 full. Gently rock the bottle back and forth and watch the wave.

Muddy Bottle
Put 1/2 cup dirt in the bottom of a bottle, and fill it with water. Let the children shake it up and watch the dirt settle. (Try using gravel, peat moss, clay, and different types of soil.) Collect soil samples from different states or countries and make muddy bottle from them. Label the bottles so the children can compare the soil found in different areas.

Bubble Bottle
Add 1 cup of water, a squirt of dish detergent, and 2 drops of food coloring to the bottle. Shake to make bubbles.

Sound Bottle
Put beans, popcorn kernels, and rice in different bottles. Stick each bottle inside an old sock. Let the children shake and guess what is in the bottles.

Estimate Bottle
Put nuts, pebbles, small shells, dried beans, or other small objects in a bottle. After the children guess how many are inside, dump out the contents and count them together. (Send this bottle home and let the children take turns filling it with objects.)

Density Bottle
Take three bottles. Fill one with water, one with vegetable oil, and one with clear shampoo. Add a marble to each bottle, then screw on the lids. The children can observe how the marbles move through different liquids.

Stress Bottle
Pour 1/3 cup clear corn syrup in a bottle. Add glitter, sequins, or small toys. The children can hold the bottle and slowly turn it around. This will help them focus and relax.

Seasonal Bottle
Put autumn leaves, flowers, nuts, or other natural objects in bottles of water. The children can observe the objects as they disintegrate.

Hidden Objects
Fill a bottle 2/3 full with sand or salt. Add five to ten small objects to the bottle and shake it. Challenge the children to find all of the hidden objects.

Seroation Bottles
Take four or five bottles and add different amounts of water in each one, from empty to full. Mix the bottles up, then let the children seriate them from empty to full.

Picture Bottles
Put the small (1 inch size) pictures of your class that you usually get from the school photographer in a bottle. Let the children shake the bottle to find their own picture or to find others' pictures and name the students in the class.

Dice Bottle
Drop dice into the bottle; do not fill the bottle with water. Children shake the bottle, and choose from any of these activities: name the number on the dice, count out that many objects, name the number that comes before or after, write the number, predict what number will come next.

Clay Bottle
Add clay (the clay from the yard, not play-dough) Fill with water, and observe what happens when you shake the bottle and the clay reacts with the water.

Potpourri Bottle
Cut a small hole into the side of the bottle; attach netting with clear plastic tape, over the hole. Fill the bottle with potpourri in flavors such as orange, vanilla, pine, gingerbread, roses, etc. Children describe the scent, or what the scent reminds them of.

Rust Bottle
Add screws bolts or nails to an empty bottle. Fill the bottle with water. Observe what happens, or track how many days the rust developed.

Glow in the Dark Bottle
Add small glow in the dark items such as stars to a bottle. Do not add any water. Children can put the bottle under a box, and look through a hole to observe what happens when the bottle is placed in the dark. Or they can take the bottle to a darkened room, or under a table covered with a sheet.

Copyright 2005 ~Cathy Abraham