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Monday, April 6, 2020

How to make a DIY Glitter Calm Down Sensory Bottle

Sensory play sometimes gets a bad wrap or people immediately close themselves off to the idea because they associate it with mess. Sensory play doesn't necessarily mean mess. Sensory bottles are a great way for kids to engage in sensory play without making any mess. I've made lots of sensory bottles with dry ingredients like rice, beans, pasta and couscous, however even I avoided making water based ones for years {because I was paranoid they would leak}. However, now that we've made one, I wish I had tried it years ago.

Water based sensory bottles are a great way for kids of all ages {and adults} to help deal with anxiety, feel less stressed and less overwhelmed. They're also great to use to calm down before bed and as a screen free quiet time activity. They also provide a great incentive for tummy time for babies and are great for eye tracking as they watch the movement inside the bottle.

Sensory bottles provide tactile input when they're being shaken or rolled and they provide lots of visual stimulation watching the contents move around and settle back down. Watching glitter or sequins spin around and change can be exciting, but then watching it slowly descend back to the bottom is very calming and helps children to self regulate. By focusing on the movement inside the bottle children can calm themselves and relax which helps to overcome tantrums and reduce anxiety.

Did you ever have a lava lamp as a kid? I had one in my room as a teenager and absolutely loved it {so much so that I bought another one as an adult}. I also love those liquid motion toys where oil bubbles drop from the top to the bottom then you flip it back over. I'm still a little nervous having anything hot or in glass around younger kids though which is why we created our own DIY glitter calm down sensory bottle using a plastic bottle. It has all the wonder and calming benefits of the movement, without any risks involving heat or glass.

How to make a DIY glitter sensory bottle for babies and kids

What you will need

- 400 ml tempered water
- Loose glitter
- Pyrex jug
- Fork

For this sensory bottle I used an empty 500ml Voss water bottle because they're the perfect shape and plastic so good for use with children of all ages. I find 500ml is a good size, but they also come in 350ml versions which would be good to use for babies and toddlers. You can find Voss water bottles online at Amazon or at local supermarkets, just be sure to get the plastic ones not the glass ones. In Australia you can find them at Woolworths. If you can't find Voss water bottles specifically, there are lots of other plastic bottles on Amazon that would work, or you could use empty 600ml softdrink bottles or water bottles.

You can make the calm down sensory bottle in any colour you like as glitter glue can be found in numerous colours, just choose a complimentary loose glitter colour to match the glitter glue. I prefer to use Elmers glitter glue as it comes in so many different colours, is relatively cheap and is easy to find online and in supermarkets and department stores like Kmart and Big W. You can also use clear glue and food dye and then just add loose glitter if you can't find any coloured glitter glue.


1. Clean out the Voss water bottle and remove any labels so it's completely transparent.

2. In a Pyrex jug squeeze out 100ml of Elmers glitter glue.

3. Pour 400ml of tempered water {boiled water that has been cooled down, but is still warm} into the jug on top of the glue. Mix the glue and water thoroughly with a fork until the glue is dissolved into the water.

4. Slowly pour the glue/water mixture into the Voss water bottle.

5. Add loose glitter into the bottle. Use as little or as much as you want, but remember the more you add it may change the colour of the mixture when shaken.

6. Replace the bottle lid and shake until the glitter is mixed with the water and glue mixture.

7. Tape or hot glue the bottle lid shut if you're using it with young children so they can't open it.

8. Shake the bottle and watch the glitter float around.

We used pink glitter glue and red loose glitter for our sensory bottle. I'm pretty sure the girls may have added a little too much loose glitter, as the bottle is completely full of glitter when shaken and takes about 3 minutes to completely settle back down, but that just makes it mesmerising for longer. The amount of glue used also controls how fast or slow the glitter will fall back to the bottom. If you want it to float around slowly and take a long time to settle use more glue, or if you want it to move around fast and settle back down quickly use a higher ratio of water to glue.

Our bottle starts out as pink with red glitter settled at the bottom then when it's shaken the whole bottle turns red and is filled with red glitter that slowly moves around. There's also a few specks of green, silver, gold and translucent glitter floating around that were part of the pink glitter glue. Click play on the video below to see how the glitter disperses through the bottle when shaken and how it swirls and slowly falls back to the bottom.

Different stages of a glitter sensory bottle before being shaken and when shaken up.

I made this sensory bottle with my 6yr old daughter and she was able to help with every part of the process. It was a great activity to do together and both her and my 2yr old love the sensory bottle and shake it up all the time. I also shake it up each time I walk past it! It's so calming I think we'll be making a lot more of them.


DIY glitter sensory bottle to help kids calm down.


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