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Sensory bottles

Sensory bottles can be made at home and many children find sensory bottles fun and relaxing. Sensory bottles can help stimulate vision and hearing, and support children to regulate their emotions.

If your child is old enough, there is a lot of learning in making the bottle too. Choosing which items go in the bottle and in what order can help develop your child’s decision-making and confidence. Exploring the items that you and your child have selected for a sensory bottle before putting them into the bottle supports tactile sensory exploration. Placing things into the bottle can help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Have fun with the process, the bottle doesn’t have to be perfect – your child will enjoy playing with it anyway!

A child plays with a sensory bottle and has three others lined up on the window sill.


  1. Find a clear empty bottle and remove any labels. You could use a small bottle or large one – smaller ones will be easier for younger children to pick up and shake, but big ones roll along the ground beautifully.
  2. Fill with whatever you and your child choose. You can use a combination of wet or dry fillers. If you choose oil, water, and colour for example, the liquids separate and make interesting patterns. Thick, wet fillers like oil help slow down dry fillers moving in the bottle.
  3. Seal the lid – you might like to use hot glue or superglue.
  4. You may want to put tape around the lid to attach the top of the bottle, to ensure secure closure after gluing.

If you use only dry fillers – the sensory bottle will be more like a rattle or rain-stick. If you add liquid, or liquid and dry fillers, the sensory bottle will be more about visual and less noisy.

Dry filler sensory bottle ideas:

  • shells
  • pebbles
  • buttons
  • seeds
  • glitter
  • sequins
  • pompoms
  • small plastic items/toys
  • beads
  • Loom bands
  • marbles
  • water beads

Liquid filler sensory bottle ideas:

  • water
  • baby oil
  • shampoo
  • glycerine
  • liquid soap
  • a few drops of food colouring

Combining different liquids – such as oil and water or glycerine and water will create liquids that separate and make interesting patterns.

Te reo Māori words and phrases for sensory bottles

Ngā kotakota The shells

Ngā pōhatu The stones

He pātene A button

He korakora pīata Some glitter

Te wai The water

He hopi makawe Some shampoo

He whero tēnei This is red

He taumaha tēnei This is heavy

Ataahua Beautiful

Korakora Sparkle