Calming bottles are one of my favorite things to make with students, but mine never turn out quite right. I either add too much food coloring or not enough… too much glue or not enough… too much glitter, okay you get the point! It’s been a real Goldilocks situation over here! I think I finally found some winning combinations so I wanted to share my “recipes” in hopes that I could save someone else lots of money in wasted craft supplies.
But first, let’s talk about the why/how. If you’re new to calming bottles (I realize you’re probably not since they’ve been all over Pinterest for years, but just in case…), they are a great tool to keep in a calm-down area or to stock in calming kits. Students can shake the bottles to exert pent up energy/frustration and then watch the glitter/contents fall to refocus and bring down their energy levels. They’re fun to make with students to give them ownership of the process and also allow them to choose contents/colors that are meaningful to them in some way.
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What you’ll need:
Water bottles (I bought a 24 pack of 500mL Voss water bottles on Amazon. I like these because the shape is perfect and the labels are easy to peel)
At least 5 bottles of clear glue (I bought Elmer’s from Amazon)
Water beads (also purchased from Amazon)
Various types of glitter (fine, coarse, shaped)
The Winter Glitter Bottle:
This one is fun to use in the cold months or with students who love a particular icy movie. I really like the look of this bottle but would likely add more glue if I made another one. The snowflake glitter falls pretty quickly, but it is nice to have 2 types of glitter in one bottle.
The Glitter Bottle:
This is my favorite of the bunch! The coarse glitter is slower to fall and is easy for students to focus on while it’s settling.
The Water Bead Bottle:
If you haven’t played with water beads before, they are a great sensory tool! They start out as teeny tiny balls and grow when soaked in water. I recommend soaking your beads so they grow to full size before putting them in the bottle so that you don’t end up with too many! They give off a cool, aura look in the bottle and can be rolled around rather than shaken. Students can roll the bottle and count the purple beads, spot their favorite colors, etc.
The Bead Bottle:
This is a fun way to use those tiny little beads that are intended for ironing shape projects. They float, so students can watch the beads rise after shaking the bottle. And just for fun, I used glow in the dark beads.
The Ocean Bottle:
This bottle can be tipped on its side and rolled back and forth to create waves. It’s not visible in the picture, but I also dropped a tiny starfish in the bottle for students to watch as they make waves.
The Failed Glitter Bottle:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bottle that didn’t turn out so great. I used glitter glue instead of clear glue for this bottle, and I didn’t love how it turned out. The coarse glitter settles slowly like in the pink glitter bottle above, but the glitter that was in the glue is very slow to settle. If I were to use glitter glue again, I’d use much less. I really just prefer the way the bottles turned out using plain clear glue.
What other items do you like to include in your calming sensory bottles? I’ve got at least 10 more bottles waiting to be filled!