Calm Down Sensory Bottle

Self regulation is a skill that develops as children get older, but it can be very difficult as toddlers when their verbal skills aren’t developed yet. Sometimes when children are upset to the point where consoling is difficult, redirecting them or distracting them works great! With this simple activity, you’ll be able to get their mind off of being overwhelmed and upset to calming and soothing.

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Teach toddlers how to self regulate with this calm down sensory bottle

Sensory bottles can be used for many domains including cognitive, (finding letters, playing “I Spy,” musical sounds) physical (fine motor with magnet wand and moving magnetic fillers inside), and emotional. 

The best bottles to use for this that are safe and seal best are Voss water bottles since they are the perfect size, durability, and look the nicest.

You can create sensory bottles for science, literacy, music, etc., but for this particular activity, you’ll be creating a calming bottle for your “calm down corner” where children can go if they need a break. 

Calming bottles help children transition from co-regulation to self-regulation. It is important to introduce the calming bottle BEFORE the child is upset so that she can see what it is meant for. They will still need adults to model this for them. Show them what it is for and how to use it. Then you can leave the bottles in the calming area of the classroom for students to use when needed.

🧘 How do I create a calm down corner? 

Fill a cozy area with pillows, soft objects, “feelings poster,” and a few of these calming bottles for children to look at the bottle and soothe themselves.

Materials

For each bottle you will need:

Plastic Bottle - Voss Bottles or Smart Water bottles work best

Super Glue

Glitter Glue

Filler - this can be glitter, pom poms, letters, beads, sequins, etc.

Glass Jar or Large Drinking Glass

Hot Water

I don’t have glitter glue! You can alternatively use elmer’s glue, food coloring, and glitter.

Learning Outcomes

Domain

Emotional

Skills

Self regulation

Indicators:

Beginning to show emotion, being overwhelmed and recovering

Instructions

Step 1:

Clean your plastic bottle by removing any adhesive labels and glue. 

👩‍🍳 Homemade Goop Remover: If you’re really in a pinch to get that bottle clean, mix together two tablespoons of vegetable oil and three tablespoons of baking soda into a paste. To use, put a small small dollop on the glue and gently rub with fingers.

Step 2:

Fill a bowl with what “filler” you want to use for your sensory bottle. 

It can be pom poms, letters, beads, sequins, etc. Feel free to mix and match! 

Pro Tip: We LOVE adding lots of white glitter because it makes it extra sparkly. ✨

Step 3:

Fill a glass jar with hot water and add your glitter glue. Aim for ⅕ glitter glue to ⅘ water. Let the hot water melt the glitter glue.

I don’t have glitter glue! You can alternatively use elmer’s clear glue, food coloring, and glitter. 

Step 4:

Once the mixture is cool enough, pour mixture into the plastic bottle.

Step 5:

Add your “filler” (this could be more glitter, pom poms, etc.). The more you add, the nicer it looks. 

Step 6:

Shake it up and see if it falls too fast. If so, add elmer’s clear glue directly to the bottle. If it falls too slow, add more water.

Step 7:

Once it is desired consistency, unscrew top and use super glue to fasten the top permanently. Allow to dry before allowing children to play with it.

Step 8:

Place the sensory calming bottle in an area of the classroom where children can go to be calm and settle down. This area should be established with soft items like pillows, stuffed animals, rug, etc. 

Model to children how to use bottles by shaking it up and focusing on watching the glitter pieces fall. After you model for a child, have them try it. 

🧲 Magnetic Magic Sensory Bottle

Adapt this activity by adding magnetic letters, numbers, paper clips or pipe cleaners to your “filler”. Then using a “magical magnetic wand”, have children try to move the magnetic objects around.

🕵️I-Spy Sensory Bottle

You can also have various objects as your filler to create an “I Spy” bottle. Have a laminated card nearby with the objects to find. This can be a quiet activity to do during rest time or even at the calming corner as well!

Playful Questions

What can I do when I’m angry?

Why does my body feel sad sometimes?

How can I calm myself down?

What are things that make you angry or upset?

What is calm?