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.
This sensory bottle spans age groups: young children can help tear apart the cotton balls and help you choose colors to add, while older children can create their own. For all ages, these bottles turn out beautifully vibrant and make a fun toy to return to over and over again.
With older kids, it’s also a chance 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.
Clear glass or plastic bottle with labels removed
More glass jars or cups for mixing
Decide what colors you’d like to make your galaxy jar. Blues, purples, and pinks tend to mix best, but the cotton balls seem to keep the color pretty well separated, so give any color a try (and tag #littlepassports in your photo so we can see it!)
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 up 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 glitter and 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, and pouring the colored water over the layers, until your jar is full.
Close the lid and enjoy your galaxy! What will you name it?