The unique things that bring me joy will now include making sensory bottles. I must be a school occupational therapist! I heard of a basic recipe a year ago. Then I saw some made by a teacher at the beginning of this school year, since then I have wanted to give it a try. I made a couple after winter break. Since both my students and colleagues liked them, I decided to make more. However, in making more I decided that I needed to figure out a “recipe” for future bottles and to share with others who wanted to make them. Honestly, it became a little science project. I was trying to figure how to get the perfect suspension of the “items”. For me, I decided 4 ingredients were critical: sport hair gel, liquid dish soap, Elmer’s Clear Glue, and glitter. I got all of my items at my local Dollar Tree except for the Elmer’s Glue. I had hoped to be able to make it without this more expensive ingredient but honestly I decided that it was the secret ingredient. Luckily for me, a kindergarten teacher that I know gave me her liquid glue and her glitter glue, since she does not like using it with her students.
You can play around with the amounts. But these are the general amounts that I found to be perfect.
1/2 Part of “Sport” Hair Gel
1/4 Part of Liquid Dish Soap
1/8 Part of Clear Elmer’s Glue
1/8 Part Glitter and Movement Items
I used these alaphabet beads and they turned out to become the best bottles to help focus the mind. I put each letter of the alphabet in every bottle. Once made, I would have the student shake them and find the letters in their name or the letters in a word. I was surprised that it was actually not too difficult, but took time for the students to do without frustrating them. That is part of the reason that the amount of suspension in the bottles became very important. I even had a student help me decide which one we liked more.
I used the travel bottles that held 80 ml of liquid. If I am doing my math correctly, 80 ml of liquid is equal to almost 16 teaspoons. I have converted the above recipe to basically fit into travel bottles (in the picture, ingredients are represented by how many “inches” each takes up in a 3.5 inch tall travel bottle). Honestly, you will not be able to measure these liquids with precision with teaspoons, particularly the gel and glue, but hopefully this will help you try to “eye” the ratios. Also if you want more suspension then add more glue.
8 teaspoons (3 tsp = 1 Tablespoon) of Sport Hair Gel
4 tsp of Liquid Dish Soap
2 tsp of Elmer’s Clear Liquid Glue
1/2 tsp of Glitter
1 1/2 tsp of items (alphapet letters/ gem pieces)
The color can be made by the product colors you buy. You can also make your own color by buying clear products and adding a few drops of food coloring.
First, I added the items to be suspended; in my case, the alphabet. Then I added the sport hair gel. Next, the liquid dish soap and glitter. I do know that some people use liguid hand soap as another possible ingredient which I would use in place of the liquid dish soap. Finally, I added the liquid glue all the way to the top. You should screw on the top and give it a hard shake. There are a lot of bubbles in the hair gel so you want to break those air bubbles up and get rid of any excess space/ air in the bottle. Once you have given it a hard shake, then unscrew the top and top it all the way to the top with more of the liquid glue; basically somewhat spilling over the edge. Also use your finger to scrap off the bubbles that are pushed to the top. All of this will help to get rid of those air bubbles. Screw the top back on. Finally, take your glue gun to the bottle top. Glue closed any part of the top/cap that unscrews or opens. I have also used duct tape to help keep the liquid safely inside the bottle. Honestly, you may need both for some kids! I have also seen where you can dip bottle tops into warmed liquid wax to seal the cap/top. I might have learned this at a brewery, but who can remember. You can buy that type of sealing wax on line.
Clear Elmer’s glue is the critical ingredient and a great way to get rid of those air bubles; be sure to add it last.
I also tried out the Elmer’s Glitter Glue. It was not my favorite, but it is another fun option. Of course, you can you use many other types of items to “float” in the suspension, such as little craft gems.
When I was finished, I gave one to my assistant principal because her job is wonderful, but stressful. She can use it for herself or with the students who come “hang out” with her. We also found that rolling these bottles, on a long desk or table, is a nice destressing thing to watch. I was able to make so many, and so cheaply, that they are now scattered in the school, too. They are in the “movement/ focus box” that I keep in the hallway for teachers to use with students. I am also giving them to some critical students and co-workers who work with students that need to work on self regulation. I hope you have fun with these sensory bottles.