How to Make a Sensory Bottle -Most Fun De-stress Activity Ever!

how to make a sensory bottleHow to Make a Sensory Bottle – Fun and Relaxing Activity!

I’ve always been enamored of “glitter tubes” and novelty liguid “lava” thingys but did you know how surprisingly easy it is to learn how to make a sensory bottle using your own materials? Once a millennia ago I found myself making one of these without prior knowledge (back then I used a small jam jar) filled up with cooking oil and dropping in some beads. I secured the lid on good with some waterproof glue and walla – What a tranquilizing moment I had turning that little jar over and watching the beads hypnotically float down to the bottom.

Little did I know I had just created a “mind/mood jar” without really thinking. When I discovered that this craft ideas was being shared and passed on, I knew right away I had to make another one (since I seem to have misplaced my first handmade mood jar, much to my chagrin) This time I am using shatterproof plastic bottles which are more lightweight, and not only beads, but sequins, glitter and other bric-a-brac.

They have other names being commonly known as, like “calm down” “time out” and sensory bottle, but all semantics aside, I’m going to tell you all about how I made mine, and you can too! Best of all you only need a few essential household ingredients along with a few extras (like the colorful filler.)[toc]

diy sensory bottleThe “Why’s” of Making a DIY “Time Out” Bottle

First – why not? The materials are cheap and easy to obtain. And it is a fun activity that kids as well as people our age can partake in too, since the ingredients will be non-toxic. Educators are recommending this activity for children as a great way to relax in a moment of sensory overload, Plus at the age where it is recommended they don’t have access to small objects, this is a good way to enjoy then without the choking hazard present. A win-win.

And if you are feeling stressed out or tense, or perhaps a bout of writer’s block has got you down? This is a good therapeutic measure to learn to practice mindfulness and mental calm (Sorry it’s not the same as a tropical island!) but you can take it with you, keep it on your desk or nightstand table to have handy.

Original Stationery 24 Extra Fine Craft GlitterOriginal Stationery 24 Extra Fine Craft GlitterPandahall 1 Box 12 Color 3mm Faceted Flat BeadsPandahall 1 Box 12 Color 3mm Faceted Flat BeadsHygloss 9416 Sequins and Spangles, 16-OunceHygloss 9416 Sequins and Spangles, 16-OunceThe Beadery 1-Pound Bag of Mixed Craft BeadsThe Beadery 1-Pound Bag of Mixed Craft Beads

Materials Needed to Make a Time Out Bottle

  • Empty plastic bottles – As long as it’s got a leak-proof cap it’ll qualify, but I’ve found that the Voss water bottles are the best choice with their smooth, ridge-free design. I also experimented with a few small tubes that once contained bath beads…I thought they were perfect for this and small enough to fit in my purse too.
  • Mineral oil – You could use water if you preferred, but the inner objects will float and drift about more gracefully if they are suspended more which is exactly what oil will permit. It’s clear so you can see everything in it, although you could certainly use vegetable oil.
  • Assortment of objects – This may be where you may have a hard time deciding what – and so you may find yourself making more than one of these! If it’s little enough to fit through the neck of the bottle, pretty to look at and can be obtained in multiples, go for it!
  • Waterproof Adhesive – Has to be waterproof, no exceptions since the last thing you want is for this bottle to leak! Gorilla Glue and E6000 are great choices.

Some suggestions for the objects include:
Beads, glitter, flatbed faux gemstones, buttons, sequins, confetti, glass marbles, mini Lego bricks (doesn’t have to be that brand – just the tiny kind) scale model accessories (e.g. dollhouse use)

DIY Sensory Bottle Instructions

Step One

If you’ve got your empty bottle at hand, carefully remove the label if any. Soda bottle labels are more difficult to come off because of that place where the ends stick together leaving a crease; another reason I like the Voss bottles – the label peels right off with no mess.

make sensory bottleStep Two

Fill the bottle with desired objects – Oh, and don’t think you have to stick to just glitter, just beads, etc., combine them together for a really dazzling effect! Try to keep the colors in sync with each other if you can. In my example you can see that silver, white and black look good together. How much you want to put into the bottle is hard to say exactly – you can fill it up a few inches, three-fourths, half full -it depends on how “busy” you may want for the resulting bottle art to be. Personally half-full is enough for me; I feel that “less is more” and the effects are more relaxing overall than a more “busy” bottle filled up with stuff!

Step Three

Fill up the bottle with oil of your choice…try to let it flow close to the top but leave a little room right below the “neck” part of the bottle (where the lid when capped on will conceal it) This will allow there to be enough room for the objects to move around freely as you tip it back and forth but not have obvious gaps.

diy sensory bottle

Step Four

You may have guessed I was going to say “now glue it on” but don’t…not yet. Cap your bottle and gently shake it a little, get a feel for how the objects are going to “perform”. You may find that you want to put in a few more objects, or add different color objects to make it more interesting. At some point before the glue phase I decided to add a little glitter for a nice special effect….I had to go easy on it, though, as a little glitter goes a long way, especially in these smaller tubes I used here! I ended up pouring some of the glittery oil into the next bottle to thin it out a little.

I like glitter, but up to a point…I still want to be able to see all my objects clearly!

Test out your bottle a few times, shake it a little bit (while keeping the cap on snugly but not too tight) Be sure you will be satisfied overall.

diy time out bottle

Step Five

When you have got your bottle just like you want it…add some beads of waterproof glue to the inside of the bottle cap (With the Voss bottle, I made sure to get it into the inner part of the cap too) Now attach the cap and twist it on firmly. Curing time may vary, but I left my bottle alone for about a day before I picked them up to try out.

Congrats, you officially have learned how to make a sensory bottle for your personal enjoyment!

make sensory bottleFinal Thoughts

This was lots of fun and you may just find yourself making another one and then another one…And you may want to consider giving them as gifts; I think I will do that too when the occasion comes up; who wouldn’t enjoy getting something like this?

If you have kids supervise them though the glueing part as waterproof glues tend to be strong and can cause a sticky mess unless used carefully and in moderation.

Not only is this fun but you have also found a great way to upcycle those plastic bottles that would end up in the recycling bin or worse yet the trash.


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  1. I LOVE DIY projects that are easy, simple and can hack stress down to its roots. This qualifies on all grounds. Love it. Thanks for this crafting idea.

  2. You should give this a try Darlene, I think you’d have some fun with it! Next best thing to watching a lava lamp LOL…Hardest part for me was sorting the proposed inside contents cuz I’m kind of a perfectionist at heart 🙂

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