Category Archives: SmartKnit DIY

SmartKnit DIY: Calm Down Bottles

Have you heard about Calm Down Bottles?  They are Sensory Tools to help in calming anxious children that have sensory sensitivities.  Children can watch the calming movement in the bottles, which helps them to self-regulate when their emotions become overwhelming.  They’re pretty nice for adults, too! 😉

The best thing about sensory bottles is that you can make them yourself AND they can be completely customized to each person.  When we were researching how to make Calm Down Bottles, we discovered that there are an abundance of different methods and materials that can be used.  The results can give you totally different looks and feels.  You may have to experiment with different possibilities to find the right one for you and your child.  After testing lots of different possibilities, we came up with two options that we really liked.  Those instructions are below, as well as a step by step video.

Calm Down Bottle #1 – Ocean Inspired

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Supplies:

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Directions:

  1. Using a funnel, pour glitter into the water bottle. – You can determine the amount, but definitely cover the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Fill the bottle 1/3 of the way full with oil. – This isn’t a precise measurement, as your bottle size might vary, but if you fill the bottle 1/3 of the way, you’ll have the best results.
  3. Fill up the rest of the bottle with water, but leave some space at the top.
  4. Remove the funnel and add food coloring. – A few drops should do it, but you can determine if it needs more color.
  5. Screw on lid – make sure it’s tight.
  6. Shake it up.
  7. At this point, you can determine if it needs anything additional – maybe more glitter or more food color. Play around with it for a little while.  See what it does after an hour or two or a day.  Once you are satisfied with your results, use super glue to glue the lid on before giving it to your children.  This is optional, but might be necessary to keep the kids from experimenting with the contents on their own. 😉

Calm Down Bottle #2 – Fuzzy Pom-poms

Supplies:

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Directions:

  1. Using a funnel, fill bottle 1/3 of the way full with oil.
  2. Fill up the rest of the bottle with water, but leave some space at the top.
  3. Pour a generous amount of water beads into the bottle.
  4. Remove funnel. Drop pom-poms into bottle.
  5. Using a funnel, pour glitter into the bottle.
  6. Screw on lid – make sure it’s tight.
  7. Shake it up.
  8. Like the first bottle, once you’re satisfied with the results, use super glue to glue the on before giving it to your children.

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These were the two we liked best, but what we learned is that the possibilities are truly endless.  We saw some bottles that used only water as a base.  Some had hand soap.  Others had clear or glitter glue in the water.  We saw one that used corn syrup.  Or, you could use mineral oil instead of canola oil.  For us, canola gave it a little bit more of the cloudy look we were going for, but mineral oil makes a nice alternative.  We even saw some bottle that used clear hair gel as a base.  This option didn’t really work well for us, but it could have been user error. 😉

The water beads were a really nice option, but the different base liquids can really affect how the water beads “behave”.  We decided that glitter was nearly a must, as it gave each of the bottles kind of a sparkly and dreamy look.  But several of the bottles we made didn’t have glitter, and they were nice, too.  The pom-poms were fun, but you can put all sorts of different objects in the bottles to watch what they do.  We saw one suggestion that used acrylic shapes, pony beads, small colored hair bands, perler beads or even large shaped confetti.

We also saw a sensory bottle that didn’t use a water base.  Instead, they stuffed a bunch of twigs from the backyard inside the bottle making sure they were not all straight up and down, but kind of haphazardly arranged.  (You can purchase craft twigs, also.) Then they added another element for sound.  In this instance they used dried rice.  The idea was that all the rice would race to one end when the bottle was turned over to make sounds.  Because the sticks were also in the bottle, the rice would catch on the sticks a little bit.  Any number of elements could be used in a sound sensory bottle, such as sand, dried beans, paper clips, popcorn kernels or small pebbles.

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Image from Rhythms of Play.  Check them out for more great ideas!

Finally, the best idea we saw in all of our research was the use of a small wine rack to make a sensory bottle rack.  A parent made several different kinds of sensory bottles and stored them all in a small wine rack.  When their child needed to use a sensory bottle, each of the bottles was arranged in the rack for the child to choose the one he wanted.  Brilliant!

One last note on the Voss bottle.  As we stated previously, we used Voss bottles because they have such a nice shape and work well for sensory bottles.  Any type of bottle will do, though.  We also used Voss glass bottles, but if you are concerned about the bottles breaking, we recommend plastic!

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We hope that you enjoy making your own DIY Calm Down Bottles.  We really had a lot of fun ourselves and truly didn’t realize all of the amazing possibilities!