As a toddler teacher, one of my favorite inexpensive toys to make is the sensory bottle: a plastic bottle (usually from water, Voss is my favorite brand, based on bottle shapes) filled an interesting material.
They come in two varieties: shakers, which are full loud materials. These are great for safely playing with choking hazards like rubber bouncy balls, paper clips, and beads.
The second, my favorite, is the fluid-filled kind, which I’ll discuss here.
Safety note: you will need to seal these carefully. Some people use hot glue, which is probably best. I use crazy glue, which also works. Clear nail polish does NOT work, at least on the fluid-filled ones (over a week later, it never dried).
The bottles were made over the course of a week. I collected a range of different water bottles to see what worked best. We used some materials we had, and some we bought, but the beautiful thing about sensory bottles is you do NOT have to go out and buy new materials. You can always make an inexpensive substitution.
What we learn from sensory bottles:
- development of large and small motor skills
- language (lots of opportunities to talk about colors)
- Cause and effect (“look! You shook it and now it is full of bubbles!”)
- Properties of materials (varies by curriculum, but includes stuff like weight, color, bigger/smaller)
- Measurement and pouring (in the making of the bottles)