Two summers ago I got a wild hair (which joined the plethora of other wild hairs in my head) to create some “discovery bottles” and “sensory bags” for gathering time at our studios. Discovery bottles are fun to shake, tip, roll and watch. They provide opportunities for exploring visual and auditory senses, and experiment with “cause and effect”. I wanted to create a simple, inexpensive project that would be easy for our families to duplicate. I experimented for about a week to figure out the best recipes, with a couple of disasters thrown in for good measure. (But of course, out of disasterous chaos often comes the biggest successes!) Since then, I’ve gotten many requests for the formulas. I’ll blog the “sensory bags” in a couple of days.
Below are the recipes for bottles we currently play with at the studio. (I’ll post a how-to video and some additional ones from Miss Beth tomorrow). I’ve put in a couple of links to a great science website where some of the items can be purchased inexpensively. If you split the costs with another family or two, you’ll find that your dollar goes further, and won’t have any leftovers. (Really, how many uses can you find for a half of bag of blue sand?) Also, be sure to scrounge around your house for little items to use. You’d be amazed how many useful bits and bobs you’ll find lurking in corners, drawers, and under the couch!
For the bottles we have at the studio, I used small soda bottles rather than water bottles. I found that the soda bottles had thicker plastic, and hence were more durable. I also glued all the caps shut with crazy glue (make sure the lips is dry and oil-free first), and sealed them with electrical tape.
Fill a bottle halfway with kosher salt. You can use regular salt, but I love the visual texture of kosher salt. Add small magnetic objects (fun paper clips, screws, magnetic bingo markers, metal shapes, money). Seal and slide a magnetic wand around the bottle and see what you can find!
Magnetic Iron Filings Bottle:
Fill a bottle halfway with colored sand. You can find this at a craft store in the floral department. Pour some iron filings (one of these does at least two bottles) into the bottle. Start with about ¾” and then add more until you get a mix you like. Seal and slide a magnetic wand around the bottle and see what you can pick up. This should bring back some nostalgic memories of “Woolly Willy”.
Ocean Wave Bottle:
Put some seashells or colored glass fishy beads (or anything “oceany” that will sink) into the bottom of a bottle. You can find items in the dollar store, the beach, or a craft store. Fill the bottle 1/3 of the way with water. Add a drop of blue food coloring. Don’t make it dark, or you won’t be able to see the items on the bottom. Fill the bottle nearly full with mineral oil. Be sure the lip is free from oil. Seal and then tip from side to side to watch the ocean waves.
Fill a bottle half way with clear corn syrup. Add sequins. Check your craft store for sequins with various shapes. (Like the “happy birthday” sequins you would sprinkle on a party table, or shapes or alphabet letters). Seal the bottle. Hold the bottle and slowly turn it around. This is very relaxing!
Relaxing Glitter Bottle:
Fill a bottle half way with clear corn syrup. Add ¼ cup of multi-colored glitter confetti. This is found at a craft store, and is larger than the common “craft glitter”. Seal the bottle. Hold the bottle and slowly turn it around. This is beautiful and hynotic!
Put one teaspoon pearl powder (found in a tiny container in the soap making department of your local craft store) in a bottle. Add water and fill until nearly full. Add food coloring. Seal and shake for beautiful swirly colors. I have to mention that this is the bottle that the grownups always pick up and get mesmerized by.
Fill a bottle halfway with rice. Add small objects (beads, buttons, alphabet letters, coins, foamy animals or shapes, marbles, etc.) Seal and shake to mix. Play “I spy”.
Fill a bottle halfway with water. Add yellow food coloring. Top with red lamp oil. (You can find this at the grocery store.) Be sure the lip is oil free before you seal it. Shake to mix the oil and water, and watch them separate. You can use any colors, but I found these two to be a terrific contrast.
If you have any questions, be sure to post them here and I’ll answer them. If you are feeling very brave, this is a great project to make with kids.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who was NOT feeling very brave when she made these, but realizes she should have been because it was tons of fun.