Oil and water sensory bottles. After my Nebula in a Bottle video and blog post I asked people if they were interested in seeing a swirling, shakeable version of a sensory bottle. Enough of you seemed keen that I decided to go for it but I wanted to make more than just a "how to" video. I wanted to share exactly why sensory bottles are useful and how sensory activities are perfect for helping kids learn science through play.
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Oil and water sensory bottle materials
- Bottle - I used a plastic bottle from Michael's
- Adhesive - I used thread seal tape (also called teflon tape) and clear silicone, both of which you can get from a hardware store
- Oil - I used generic brand Baby Oil from Shopper's Drug Mart because I wanted my oil clear but dark yellow vegetable oil would be terrific to demonstrate colour mixing
- Distilled water - you can use tap water but there's the risk of it getting grungy over time
- Food colouring in your choice of colour or colours
- Glitter - I recommend the glitter that comes in larger sizes. Fine and extra fine glitter tends to clump
I mentioned in the video that an oil and water sensory bottle is a good segue into discussing density with kids. If you want to discuss density further, making a density column can be fun. Here's how I made mine (starting at the bottom and going up):
1. Corn syrup (the only reason I have a bottle of this is for science and crafting projects!)
2. Green dish detergent
3. Tap water mixed with red food colouring
4. (I'll come back to the blue layer) Baby oil
5. Rubbing alcohol - I meant to mix some blue food colouring into the rubbing alcohol before adding it to the top of the jar, but I forgot! So I decided to put a couple of drops of the food colouring in to see what would happen. It actually created a pretty cool fireworks effect, so then I stirred the top layer gently with a skewer and the blue mostly dropped down to the water layer creating a band of blue/purple. Neat!
As mentioned in the video, oil and water sensory bottles (or calming jars) are useful visual aids to help people cope with, and safely process, feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
If this is something you need additional support with, you may also find these resources helpful.
How to help kids with change, transitions and learning self-regulation
- Coping with life changes and transitions - HELPING KIDS video
- Video on Teaching Self Regulation (for parents and educators)
- Luna's story (Grumpy Moon), a cute illustrated story to read with kids about Luna the Moon, and how her friends work together to help her better handle change.
- A social narrative (or social story) packed full of practical strategies to assist parents and educators in helping kids cope with transitions, anxiety, overwhelm and changes, big and small.
- Both Grumpy Moon and the social narrative are available as epub files so you can read them together on an iDevice - email me at info@smallbutkindamighty if you would like the epub files and I will send them to you at no extra cost.
- an infographic summarizing my six recommendations for helping kids prepare for change.
Sensory play and activity ideas
- Free Planetary Sensory walk download. Includes 8 recipes for sensory play bin contents, (including home-made kinetic sand, cloud dough and oobleck) plus a bonus moon dough recipe, together with fun planetary and science facts and sensory play ideas
- Video on how to make cooling, calming moon dough
- Video on Moon landing sensory bin activity, paired with reading suggestions