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Monday, June 7, 2021

How to make a Coral Reef Ocean Sensory Bottle

We're huge fans of sensory bottles in our house, and not just the kids, I love them too. I still have so many more sensory bottle ideas to make, but this week we made a coral reef ocean sensory bottle just in time for World Oceans Day on June 8.

coral reef sensory calm down bottle
Sensory bottles are great because they provide sensory input with no mess! And you can use small items without being a choking hazard {make sure to properly seal the bottle and use under adult supervision}. 

This coral reef sensory bottle is a great way to calm down and reduce anxiety watching the animals and glitter float around {see video below} and it's a great way to inspire discussions around sea life and why it's important to take care of our oceans. It's a great sensory bottle to have at home for quiet time and would be a great addition to a kindy room or classroom.


I love using Voss plastic water bottles for our sensory bottles as they're a great size, plastic and completely transparent. In Australia the only place I've managed to find them in the plastic version is Woolworths, however they're readily available overseas and on Amazon. If you can't find Voss bottles you can use any empty plastic soft drink bottle or there are lots of great sensory bottle options on Amazon.

For our coral reef animals I bought individual safari good luck minis that would be found in a coral reef, however you can also buy a coral reef pack with 8 reef animals. In our bottle we used an octopus, squid, eel, sting ray, turtle, seahorse, puffer fish, jellyfish, dolphin, reef shark, starfish and of course Nemo {clownfish} and Dory {blue tang}.
supplies needed to make a coral reef ocean sensory bottle

We used Elmers clear glue, blue shimmer glitter and blue food dye, however if you don't have {or don't want to use} blue food dye or glitter then you could use Elmers blue glitter glue. We also added some tiny shells and coral that we'd picked up on beach walks and a cut up piece of an aquarium plant to represent sea grass.


This sensory bottle is quite simple to make and can be made by children 6+ under adult supervision. My 7yr old made almost the entire sensory bottle by herself with a few simple instructions {minus adding the hot water initially}. My 4yr old was also able to help add in some of the animals.

1. Pour 375ml tempered water {boiled but slightly cooled} into a jug. I did this step myself because the water was still quite hot.

2. Add a whole bottle {147ml} of Elmers clear glue to the water. This is easiest to do with the lid off.

adding glue to a sensory bottle

3. Stir the glue and water together with a fork until the glue is dissolved.

4. Add a few drops of blue food colouring and stir through with the fork until it's mixed with the water.
mixing food colouring for a sensory bottle

5. Pour the blue mixture into the bottle using a funnel. I helped hold the funnel while my daughter slowly poured in the water.

6. Add some blue glitter to the bottle {optional}.
7. Add mini reef animals, shells, coral and aquarium plant pieces into the bottle.

8. Secure the lid. If you're making the bottle for young kids then seal it with hot glue inside before screwing or tape shut with clear packing tape.

coral reef sensory bottle made in a voss plastic water bottle

The girls love our sensory bottle and have loved tipping it upside down and watching all the animals float around. The added bonus is some of the animals float to the top and some sink down to the bottom so it's even more interesting for them to guess which animals will go where. 

You can easily extend the play with this bottle beyond visual sensory stimulation by asking questions like What animals can you see? What colour is the __? What do you think the __ eats?

coral reef sensory bottle held in childs hands


how to make a coral reef sensory bottle in 5 minutes

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

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