Pin There, Done That: Sensory Bottles, Part 1

This was one of those projects that I had been meaning to make since Blob was one, but didn’t get around to doing until January of this year. To be fair, though, there is far less choice for large, sturdy plastic bottles in Finland, since they are considered horribly wasteful. Innocent Juice made the ones I was most happy with, so I started saving my juice bottles after we were done with them. The plastic is not as thick as I would like, but still highly resilient to toddler abuse. The mouth is wide enough to fit a variety of items in and the neck provides a nice place to grip when it is being played with.

Having chosen the vessel to be used for this entire collection of DIY toys, I narrowed the countless options for contents down to a shortlist that would not require me to buy anything new. This led to my very first bottle being the pink soap bubbles bottle. I just filled the bottle one third to one half full of water, added a few drops of food coloring, shook it to get an even color, then added a few drops of dish soap. Glued cap in place to make it as hard as possible for the bottle to be opened, then let Blob go at it once it dried.

This was by far the toddler favorite out of my first set of three, by the way. Because, bubbles. It is also a lot more instantly gratifying than the other two, I suspect. Blob especially enjoyed rolling and bumping it around the room to make the bubbles, rather than just shaking it. Did I mention that I sealed the outside of the lid where it joins the neck with another layer of glue after the one attaching the lid to the bottle inside dried? I’m actually still considering decoupaging a layer of waterproof tape and paper around the join to make it absolutely impossible for that little monkey to pry the lid off when he decides to use these bottles as bowling pins.

The second bottle I went for was the oil/water lava lamp bottle. Bottle half filled with water and food coloring, shaken, then topped off with vegetable oil and sealed. I spent a lot of time trying to interest Blob in this one, swooshing the water around, then shaking it to get colored globules to float around. He wasn’t really into it, but I still hold onto hope. He seems to find new ways to play with things every week, so maybe he’ll find it as entertaining as I do at some point as well. I might also do another one with a little boat floating inside, or fish. That would probably make the experience much more amusing for small people. Notice how there isn’t much difference between the before and after photo — unless I shake vigorously for a prolonged period of time, it tends to stay the way it is.

This last one was the most complicated, but also the most gratifying. For me, anyway. This is a variation of the “calm down” jars that are all over Pinterest. I first poured about 3/4 bottle of hot water into a glass bowl, then dumped in a whole bottle of blue glitter glue. Stirred until dissolved, then funneled it into the bottle. Added one vial of fine silver glitter, one vial of fine blue glitter, another small bottle of clear glue, then topped off the bottle and sealed. You basically just add the standard glue until you achieve the viscosity you are looking for. The more watery it is, the faster the glitter will settle. Mine ended up being quite gluey so it takes a good hour to calm down. Which is fine if the main goal is just to stare at the pretty glittery swirls, rather than use it as a timer. The silver and blue contrast is so lovely! Blob gets bored with it pretty fast still, but I’ve found that most adults I show it to are similarly hypnotized. Hee.

These were lots of fun to make and play with, and we will definitely make a wider variety as time permits. We are trying to pick ones that are attractive for all ages, so they will be an entertaining feature of the toy room for years to come. I think a wide variety of wet and dry ones are needed for small people with small attention spans, but we have already gotten lots of good play time out of just these three. It’s also nice that you can vary just the color and proportions of even these three and end up with completely different experiences!

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