Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Sensory Fun Series: Discovery Bottles

It's Day 4 of my Summer Sensory Fun Series!

If you've missed any of the fun activities, check them out :)

Today, I'm going to share with you one of my favorite sensory play activities:

Discovery Bottles are just about one of the best things that you can give to a little one to play with.  The various sounds, sights, and feels that come from holding them and shaking them will make your munchkin squeal with delight.  My favorite thing about Discovery Bottles is that there are so many different things that you can put in them!

First, hunt around the house for some plastic bottles.  You can use 2 liter bottles for older kids, or smaller sport drink bottles for babies.  Find something that your child can pick up and hold on his own.  Good, sturdy bottles (such as Gatorade) are better to use than one of the newer, more flimsy Eco-Friendly bottles which might crack or burst with too much rough play.

*Important* Have your hot glue gun plugged in at the ready so that as soon as you make these bottles, you can put a thick ring of hot glue inside the cap and screw it on tight.  This way, you don't have to worry about clever little fingers finding ways to open these bottles and spill the contents on your living room carpet--or worse, swallow anything.  

Next, fill them up!

Here is what I put in mine:

{1} Bouncy Balls & Shampoo--I used a bottle of baby shampoo that Kayleigh was allergic to (talk about repurposing!), but dish soap, detergent, oil, or corn syrup would all work, too.  Using thicker liquids is a great way to show children how different liquids flow at various rates--if Older Brother or Sister is around, you could even start talking about viscosity!  If the liquid is too thick--like my shampoo was--dilute it with water until you get a solution that is fun to watch.

{2} Bouncy Balls & Water--Using the same bouncy balls in water gives your little one two fun bottles to compare.  Babies will enjoy watching the balls, and your older ones will probably be asking you lots of Why? questions.  Talk with them and encourage their curiosity!

{3} Stars & Sequins in Gatorade--Yes, Gatorade!  I ran out of empty bottles and decided that instead of putting colored water in this bottle, I would just keep the blue Gatorade and toss in some sparkly sequins.  It works, and it gives them a pretty color to look at.

{4} Colored Rice--Want to make your own?  Learn how from the tutorial in my Playroom!  Kids love the way it looks and sounds.  There are so many bright, pretty colors to look at, and your munchkin will love the sound it makes when they shake it.  Be sure to leave some space in the bottle for the rice to move around!

{5} Pom Poms--There's not much to this one, just grab some pom poms and stuff them in :)  Babies will like the bright colors and different sizes, and you can ask your preschoolers to name the colors they see and tell you why pom poms don't make as much noise as the rice does.

Why Kids Love These:
Babies are excellent observers and delight in being part of new experiences.  They absorb more information than we often give them credit for.  Bottles like these give them exciting new experiences to watch and take part in.  They love the sounds the bottles make, the colors and motions, and the way the bottles feel in their hands.  

Toddlers, Preschoolers and beyond like these bottles for the cause/effect side of things.  They like to see what happens when they shake the bottles, they like to think about what makes the noise, and they like being able to shake and roll these without fear of getting in trouble!

Why You Should Love These:
When you use activities like this with your baby, you are introducing her to the wonderful world of senses in a safe, mess-free way.  Since babies love to put anything and everything in their mouths, Discovery Bottles are great ways to show them small things that are fun to look at without having to worry that those little pieces might be swallowed.  The bottles roll across the floor, which is great fun for little crawlers--Kayleigh has been chasing them all over the place!  I love it!

These bottles can be a real conversation starter with your verbal little ones.  There are endless questions you can ask them--"Can you describe that sound?"  "What do you think it feels like?"  "Why does this one move slowly/quickly when you shake it?"  "How do you think we could make this bottle a little bit different?"  You can even invite your older children to help you make Discovery Bottles for their younger siblings.  Let them think about things that might be fun to see/hear/feel.  Jingle bells?  Mini Legos?  Flour?  Encourage their creativity and make them feel like they are important contributors in this activity!  There are endless possibilities, and it only takes a little bit of creativity for a whole lot of fun :)


  1. Visiting from Growing up Geeky!

    I love these ideas! I do tot school with my 15 month old and he loves when we do bottles like this!

  2. My children would LOVE this! Thanks for stopping by our blog! We are your newest followers!
    Brooke from

  3. I was lamenting to Mark that I wanted to do this project but I don't have a hot glue gun. He gave me a funny look and said "I have a hot glue gun".
    Go figure. Here I was, thinking they are such a feminine tool.

    1. HA! Virginia, I seriously LOLed :) Don't you love it when our men surprise us like that?!?

  4. Lovely ideas...thanks for sharing at the Outdoor Play Party!


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