Sensory Bottles from The Dollar Store

Sensory bottles are amazing toys for infants learning about hand eye coordination and discovering the world around them. These bottles can all be made from items at the dollar store and their thin design is perfect for little hands.
Sensory bottles from the Dollar store
Sensory bottles are a great way to keep tiny items contained while little hands explore them and make lots of noises.

We went on a road trip to visit my brother in Colorado one summer when my daughter was about 10 months old. She did okay in the car so I had high hopes for her!

Well, she was worse. She was so over being in the car and I don’t blame her. I normally don’t mind the car but, like her, I just wanted out. On one leg of the trip she was so mad. We handed her a Sparkling Ice water bottle (because my 13 year old brother is obsessed with them) and it kept her busy for a (relatively) long time. The size was perfect for her and she could fit her hands around it. So I got an idea!

Sensory bottles
5 sensory bottles lined up

I asked my mom and brother (which basically means my mom) to start saving them for me. Remember last summer I did a blog post on some sensory bins for Dylan before the baby came? Well I have been meaning to make sensory bottles for Reagan and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

I took a trip to my beloved Dollar Tree with the small opening of the bottles in mind. Off the shelves, I grabbed googly eyes, sand, small rocks, marbles, baby shampoo, rice, pasta, pony beads, hot glue gun sticks (glitter glue), alphabet beads, beans, vegetable oil…I was like a kid in a candy store! Which is basically a DIY blogger in the Dollar Store. Or Hobby Lobby.

Oh, full disclosure, I am not sure if you can get food coloring at the Dollar Tree – I don’t think you can. I colored my water with food coloring that I already had at home.

When I started work on them, I took the labels off first. It is much easier to clean if you tear them off in one piece. You are going to have some sticky residue left over, so I used nail polish remover with a cotton pad and then when that dried, I used coconut oil to get the rest of it. Some of it was super stubborn and didn’t all come off, but it wasn’t sticky anymore and that’s all that really mattered to me.

When you’re at the Dollar Tree, for the love of all that is Holy, please buy a funnel. It will save your sanity. You can get them in a pack of 3 for (yep, you guessed it), $1. 😉

Here is what I put into my sensory bottles. You can mix and match any of those items. I focused on sound for these for Reagan because she loves to make noise.

Sensory Bottles Shopping List

  • Dry pasta
  • Alphabet beads
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks
  • Glitter
  • Colored sand
  • Food coloring
  • Baby oil
  • Glass beads/marbles
  • Dry rice
  • Pony beads
  • Colored rocks/gravel
  • Baby shampoo
  • Water
  • Empty water bottles
All 9 sensory bottles lined up to show their contents

Here they are, from left to right:

-Pasta and alphabet beads
This one is great for both kids because Dylan can tell me which letters he sees while they are playing with it together.

sensory bottle with dry pasta and alphabet beads

-Water and hot glitter glue
I loaded up my hot glue gun (every house should have one of these. They should come standard in tool kits) with the glitter glue sticks and melted it onto my silicone craft mat in different shapes and sizes. Once they were cooled off, I peeled them off of the craft mat and popped them into the sensory bottle (yes, I realize they resemble sperm).

sensory bottle with water and hot glue designs

-Water, food coloring, baby oil and glitter.
The water, oil and glitter all separate but look super cool when you shake it.

sensory bottle with blue water and gold glitter

-Black craft sand and googly eyes.
This one is really cool for Halloween! She loves the sound this one makes.

sensory bottle with black sand and googly eyes

-Water, food coloring and marbles.
This one is kind of heavy which is nice because it gives it another sensory experience. It makes a lot of noise and is fun to watch.

sensory bottle with yellow water and glass beads

-Dry rice and pony beads
Very colorful and makes a cool, loud noise!

sensory bottle with rice and colorful pony beads

-Water, food coloring and baby oil
The baby oil and food coloring separate nicely and like the first bottle, it looks really cool when you shake it up.

sensory bottle with water, food coloring and baby oil

-Colored rocks, water and food coloring.
This one also is heavy which is nice and makes a loud noise. It looks cool when you roll it, too!

sensory bottle with pink water and green rocks

-Water, food coloring and baby shampoo.
When it’s not shaken up, this one just looks like plain old pink water. But when you shake it, it creates a really cool lather in there.

Pink sensory bottle with soapy water

You can also dye the pasta and rice (I have a tutorial here) you are adding to the sensory bottles if you are feeling super creative. You can alter these to your children’s ages. More letters for older kids, less colors for super young babies. Like most of my projects, have fun with it!

Looking for more sensory activities? Check out all of my education at home posts here.

Update (2 years later) – I am STILL spotting my kids playing with these during the day. We still use them!

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18 thoughts on “Sensory Bottles from The Dollar Store

  1. I also do sensory bottles for my class room. I have cut up pipe cleaners, and put in bottle, then added a magnet wand to use on the outside. It will pick up the pipe cleaners and move them around.

    1. Hi Joy! I used hot glue before putting the lid back on 🙂

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing…loved it!! I too am working as a mother toddler teacher…Will definitely try in my class..

    1. That’s awesome! These are perfect for toddlers because they can’t make a mess! 😉

  3. I worked in a multi handicap class for twenty five years. I enjoyed making sensory bottles.There are a lot of ideas out there. Some of them are so easy and very inexpensive.we also did shoe box centers. Clothes pins matching numbers,word, abc,Made a lot of teach folders for the students to work match folders. Sorting money. We had sensory bins.sand,,water play,pouring,measuring.shaving cream,play doh,playing a card game was always interesting. But they learned to take turns,rules of the game,how to win or lose. There were so many skills you could teach and have fun. The class learned how to set up a game and play and then put it away.people need to look at ability instead of there disability. We always had there peers come in and work with the students. A neat learning experience for all. Teachers always stop by too see what we were doing. And they knew our students by name.It was a wonderful experience for me and very rewarding.

    1. Can you explain the shoe box centers a little more?

      1. Looks like that was a comment from a reader but seems she makes smaller activities and keeps them in a shoe box to keep it container – this is great for fine motor practice!

  4. I’m hearing a lot about fidget blankets ( or something like that) for Alzheimer’s patients. As I am a caregiver, would these boxes work for the elderly?

    1. Absolutely! You could even fill them with laminated pictures of loved ones 🙂

  5. Very nice, I just did three with 1/4 water and rest liquid hand lotion. That way the objects move slowly. Fill it up first see how they move. If too slow take out a bit and add more water. If too fast take out a little solution and then add more liquid hand lotion.

  6. What are the chances of one of these bursting? Working with a little boy with limited understanding who squeezes!

    1. Hi Alice! We have been using them for 3 years now and have had no problems. They are tossed all around and squeezed!

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