Galaxy in a Bottle
Sensory bottles go by many names: sensory jar, calm-down bottle, discovery bottle. These fun and easy creations are meant for young children to explore their senses while still keeping the house (mostly) free of messy paints or craft supplies.
For all ages, these bottles turn out beautifully vibrant and are a fun toy to return to over and over again.
These sensory bottles are also an opportunity to learn about galaxies and explore how big our universe really is! Try browsing through photos from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope – they’re the inspiration for our activity below.
“This colorful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula. The cloud is just over half a light-year across.” – NASA.gov
“The curving structure of Menzel 2 resembles a last goodbye before the star reaches its final stage of retirement as a white dwarf.” – NASA.gov
- Clear glass or plastic bottle with labels removed
- Additional glass jars or cups for mixing
- Food coloring
- Cotton balls
Decide what colors you’d like to make your galaxy jar. Blues, purples, and pinks tend to mix best, but give any color a try! Make sure to tag #littlepassports so we can see your creations!
Mix your first color in a glass jar or cup, using about 1 cup of water and food coloring. Add a sprinkle of glitter to the water and mix well. Mix your second color as well, adding as much glitter as you like.
Separate the cotton balls with your fingers so they make long wisps, then fill your jar with cotton. Add extra glitter into the jar if desired. Pour the colored water mixture over the cotton balls – the cotton will compress as you add water. For a jar with two colors, fill up halfway with the first color, then add more cotton and add the second color.
Keep adding layers of cotton and glitter until your jar is full.
Close the lid and enjoy your galaxy! What will you name it?
If your child enjoyed making and learning about galaxies, they’ll love one of our Science subscriptions!