DIY Sensory Bottles: Three Different Ways

DIY sensory bottles are so simple to make! Mix together different materials to create new exciting effects for your little one to explore!

I’ve been seeing sensory bottles EVERYWHERE. Truthfully I’ve tried making one before, but it was a glitter filled mess. I’d put them at the bottom of our to do list until I recently noticed they were everywhere on my Instagram feed. With our trip to Colorado coming up, I knew the bottles would be a fun but compact toy for her to play with on our drive.

Now to be extra honest, I almost trashed all 3 before we left. The actual title of this post is: DIY Sensory Bottles 3 Ways Plus All the Ways Lexi Tried and Failed to Make Them. It was bad guys it really was, but I finally figured out how to get them how I wanted and here’s how!


  • Empty bottles
  • Small toys
  • rice
  • DIY liquid watercolors
  • Baby Oil
  • containers to color rice
  • hot glue
  • Optional- printer and laminating sheets

For our DIY sensory bottles I used one empty peanut butter jar and two jars from Michael’s. The bottles are labeled at Michael’s as sensory bottles for $1.99. They are the perfect size and you don’t have to worry about taking off any labels. The label on the peanut butter came off easily, but the size makes it hard to take with you. I also got all the small toys at Michael’s! Each bag of the bright colored erasers was 99 cents and the small  animals were each $1.50. I was able to make all 3 DIY sensory bottles for $12!

Bottle #1- Colorful Seek and Find

If you noticed in the materials picture I originally had a small bag of sand I picked up at the dollar store to mix in. HORRIBLE idea. Horrible. The sand made everything so dusty, and it was hard to see what all the cute food and dinosaurs were. I had to dump the sand, wash everything and the bottle and redo. This was a complete learning process I’m telling you!

Once everything was dried, I decided to use rice. I poured half plain white rice and then mixed in some of the purple and pink rice from her princess bin.Leave some space at the top of the jar so that there is space to shake the rice. This jar is so colorful and fun! I used the erasers with food, dinosaur, and cute sea life shapes. Make sure to add the animals as you pour the rice, this makes it easier to get them to mix and distribute evenly through the rice.

Bottle #2- Ocean in a Bottle

This was the bottle that almost made me scrap the whole project. I started using the sand, which made everything really cloudy. I had found a tutorial on Pinterest that said to rinse the sand but no matter what I did dust was still filling the bottle! After scrapping the sand, I added too much liquid watercolors and the water was too dark to see the animals. We then added some baby oil and it was perfect! I got too excited and thought glitter would make it really fun! Wrong. It stuck to the sides of the bottle making it impossible to see anything!

To create our final bottle, I filled it about 3/4 of the way full with water and added 3 drops of liquid water color. That’s all you need to create just the right amount of color. Then place the animals inside the bottle. Pour baby oil on top, leaving a small gap from the stop so that the water can move freely. The oil and water will create a wave effect, and all your ocean creatures will “swim” in the bottle. Our current final bottle is all water and liquid watercolors because I used all our baby oil in our mistake bottles *face palm.* Now that we’re home I will be remaking this bottle (without the glitter I ruined it with) because the oil is much better than just watercolors!

Bottle #3- Jungle Seek and Find

This was the only bottle that worked the way I wanted on the first try! To make it, I dyed some rice using green DIY liquid watercolors. You can find the full tutorial here! The bottle only took about half a bag of rice, the other half was used in bottle #1! I let the rice dry while working on the other bottles. Make sure it is fully dry or else it will mold!

I started pouring the dry rice into the bottle, adding the animals in a little at a time. The green rice works great for a jungle like effect with the animals!

Finishing off the DIY Sensory Bottles

Once I was mostly happy with how the sensory bottles looked, I used hot glue to seal them. This is totally optional, but my toddler can undo a lid super fast and I just knew we would be in the middle of nowhere on our road trip and she would have green rice all over the car! I just put a little on the inside of the lid, and then a small line around the outer edge.

Before putting the shapes into the sensory bottles, I took photos of each grouping. I didn’t have time before our trip but now that we are home I plan to print out each photo for a card. Using laminating sheets these can be used with dry erase markers so that she can mark each item she is able to find!

All DIYs are not successful DIYs! I made many many mistakes creating something that is really so simple! Making DIY sensory bottles is really an easy and fun activity, just don’t be like me and overthink it too much! Either way, she LOVES these bottles. She enjoys just shaking them to see what animal she can find, and loves watching the turtle in the egg swim in the ocean bottle!

Have you ever made DIY sensory bottles? What are you favorites you’ve made?

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  1. thisjoyfullife11 says:

    This is great mama! Such a great idea

  2. I have been seeing sensory bottles everywhere too! I love the themed bottles who have shared in this post. I am excited to make these with my kids. Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are great! My daughter’s OT recommended a sensory bottle and I tried to make my own. I did a horrible job! I’m going to try these. Thanks for sharing!

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