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Sensory Bottles

incorporating science experiments into their curriculums, that engage our
students’ senses!

Sensory activities help our children to understand the world around them using the five senses; taste, touch, smell, site and hearing.

Sensory bottles are one of the activities our teachers do with students in the classroom. They are a great option for engaging the senses of sight and touch with preschool age children, while also being very calming to look at once the project is complete. It’s a project that parents can easily do at home with their children, also.

It is fun to get creative with what items you put in your sensory bottle! The possibilities for items and themes for your sensory bottles are endless! Just use yours and your child’s imaginations.

Best of all, you can make a sensory bottle with your child that contains items that they are interested in. Does your child love animals? Use animal figurines! Does your child love the color yellow? Add some yellow food coloring! Even create a theme for your sensory bottle with your child’s favorite television show or movie characters!

You can pour into a water bottle a variety of small items that you find around your home or in a craft store. Just be creative! As you fill the bottle with your child, ask them how each item looks and feels. Best of all creating sensory bottles in an activity that you and your child can do together, while also engaging in conversation about what you’re doing and what they like best about it! Creating these bottles also allows you to engage other skills depending on your child’s age, which we have outlined, below.

If you need some help getting started creating sensory bottles, we are sharing six different types of sensory bottles that our teachers enjoy making in the classroom. You can easily make them at home using only a few materials, that are all easy to find.

Sensory Bottles

Materials:

Please note: All items are not needed for all sensory bottle options. However, you will need a bottle, tape and water to make all six sensory bottles.

  • Baby oil
  • Water
  • Water or other type of bottle with a cap, you might also want clear tape to ensure the bottle remains closed at the end.
  • Glitter
  • Pom poms
  • Food coloring
  • Mini colorful rubber bands
  • Mini shells
  • Tiny fish, dolphin and shark figurines
  • Water absorbing beads

Ocean in a Bottle

  1. Drop small shells, fish or other small ocean animal figurines into the bottle.
  2. Pour water into your bottle, almost to the top.
  3. Add 1 drop of blue food coloring to your bottle of water.
  4. Pour in baby oil to the top of the bottle of water.
  5. Close and seal the water bottle with clear tape.

This sensory bottle is great for a child who enjoys trips to the beach and to the aquarium!

Glitter in a Bottle

  1. Pour a small amount of glitter into your water bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

You can create this sensory bottle over and over again by using different color glitter each time, or even a combination of glitter colors to create a brand new and interesting experience for your child.

Pom Poms in a Bottle

  1. Drop some pompoms into your water bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

Turn this into a math activity by counting the number of pom poms you put into the water bottle, as you drop them in.

A Red Bottle

  1. Fill half of your water bottle with water.
  2. Add three drops of red food coloring to your water bottle.
  3. Add baby oil to the top if your water bottle.
  4. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

This sensory bottle can be done with any color of food coloring. Ask your child what color they would like to make their sensory bottle to decide which color to use!

Rubber Bands in a Bottle

  1. Drop some mini colorful rubber bands into your bottle.
  2. Add water to the top of your water bottle.
  3. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

Water Absorbing Beads in a Bottle

  1. Drop some water absorbing beads into a bowl.
  2. Pour water into the bowl.
  3. Allow some time for the beads to absorb the water in the bowl and grow.
  4. After the water absorbing beads grow, pour them into your water bottle.
  5. Close and seal your water bottle with clear tape.

If you have water beads in a variety of colors, turn this into a color identifying activity by asking your child what color each bead is as you drop them into your water bottle. You can also ask your child to explain what they saw happen to the water beads when you put them in the bowl of water.

Note: Water and baby oil do not mix. That is why these two liquids will separate in the bottle.

Once Your Sensory Bottle is Complete, Observe!

When your sensory bottle is complete, your child can shake the bottle, roll it around and flip it over to observe what is happening inside each one. Ask your child to describe in their own words what they see happening in each of the bottles as they move it around. If you make multiple types of bottles, ask them to tell you in their own words what is different about each sensory bottle, how they look and what happens when you flip them upside own.

You can also change this part of the activity, according to the skills your child is working on. If your child is beginning to learn how to read and write, incorporate those skills! Write questions down for them, such as, “Describe what you see with your eyes.” Then, ask your child to write what they see on a piece of paper and read their response together, out loud.

Leave the bottles you create out at home for your child to play with and continue to roll, shake and flip over so that they can continue observing what is happening inside. Since the lid of the bottle is taped closed and secure, this is also a great way for your child to engage in sensory play without making a mess around the house.

Since this is an activity that allows you to change the materials you use in your bottle, it is certainly one that you can do with your child over and over without the activity every getting boring! After creating one or two sensory bottles, ask your child what items they would like to add to their next sensory bottle. You can even create a place in your child’s room or playroom to collect all of their sensory bottles to go back to play with and look at any time they would like to.

Build a Sensory Board

Further stimulate your child’s sense of touch by getting a poster board or piece of cardboard and gluing or taping items with different textures to the board. Have your child touch each of the items and describe how they feel. Which one feels bumpy, fluffy, soft, rough, scratchy and smooth? You can even ask your child which item they like the feel of, the most.

Items to consider including on your sensory board include small pieces of bubble wrap, sand paper, felt, large pompom, cotton round, Velcro (both sides) and aluminum foil. These items all have very different textures and will provide a wide variety of textures for your child to experiment with touching.

This is something else that can be put up in your child’s room or playroom to play with and experiment with, any time!

Incorporate Senses into Daily Conversation

When you are talking to your child every day, incorporate questions that require them to use and think about their senses. While you are out on a walk together ask, “What do you see?” When they pick up a leaf or run through the grass barefoot ask, “How does it feel?”

Questions like these are great ways to show your child that they are using their senses all the time to observe what is happening in the world around them. Asking these questions is also great when trying to extend the lessons created by making your own sensory bottles, into your child’s daily life.

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Easy Winter Paper Crafts for Kids

Whether you are spending the weekend at home or looking for an after school activity, paper crafts are a great activity option for your toddler, preschool or elementary school student!

Many paper crafts require few supplies (most are supplies that you probably already have around the house) and the instructions are simple to follow. They are also a great opportunity to allow your child’s imagination run wild while they work to improve their fine motor and other skills.

These crafts are also great if you are looking for fun ways to incorporate your child’s creativity into their bedroom or playroom décor because you can easily hang them up once the project is complete!

Creating a theme for your child’s craft projects, especially when doing several in one day, will also allow you to have conversations with them on a topic. Seasons are often a great topic of conversation for children.

We are sharing some of our favorite paper crafts for winter. Some are projects that the teachers at Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) are doing in the classroom with students! Others are included in CLC’s Play to Learn Book! All are fun and easy to replicate at home.

Lacing Mittens:

Having your child use their hands to trace and then lace paper mittens is a fun way to practice fine motor skills!

Materials

  • Construction paper or cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Safety scissors
  • Single hole punch
  • 3-foot piece of yarn
  • Marking tape

Instructions

  1. Put your construction paper or cardboard on the table. Put your child’s hand on the paper, palm down. Keep the fingers together and let the thumb stick out.
  2. You or your child can draw around their hand to create the outline of a mitten.
  3. Use safety scissors to cut out the mitten shape. Be sure to have an adult help with this step!
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the opposite hand.
  5. Punch holes around the mitten’s edges. The exact distance between the holes does not matter.
  6. Wrap a piece of masking tape around one end of the yarn. This makes it easier to poke through the holes.
  7. Start at the bottom of the mitten. Poke the yarn down through one hole, up through the next and so on. Continue all the way around the mitten.
  8. When all the holes are laced, tie the yarn ends in a bow. Trim the ends, and your mittens are done!

This is a good activity if your child is learning how to tie their shoes. You can show them how to tie the bow at the end and have them try to do it also, before trimming the ends.

Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the clothes we wear in the winter! Mittens are one type of winter clothing, ask them what some others are. Ask them why it is important to wear winter clothes when you go outside and which of their winter clothes is their favorite!

Add Marshmallows to Your Hot Chocolate:

Teach your child math while creating a little masterpiece and their own paper cup of hot chocolate!

Materials:

  • Bowl of marshmallows
  • Draw a cup of hot chocolate on a piece of paper and put a number in the corner
  • Glue
  • Crayons or markers

Instructions:

  1. Give your child the bowl of marshmallows and piece of paper with the hot chocolate and number drawn on them.
  2. Ask your child to tell you what number is on the paper.
  3. Ask your child to count out the number of marshmallows that go into their hot chocolate to match the number on the paper.
  4. Help your child glue the marshmallows to the hot chocolate.
  5. Ask your child to color in their hot chocolate with crayons or markers!

Once your child is finished with their cup of hot chocolate, ask them to count how many marshmallows are left in the bowl!

Ask them to describe the mug of hot chocolate they colored. What colors did they choose to use and why?

Paper Snow People

Let your child create their own snow people, even if there is not any snow on the ground outside! Best of all, they will not ever melt!

Materials:

  • White paper
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Safety scissors
  • Any odds and ends for added features like a hat, scarf, arms, eyes and buttons.

Instructions:

  1. Copy different size circle shapes onto paper.
  2. Use safety scissors to cut them out to make the snow person.
  3. Tape or glue the circles together to put your child’s snow person together.
  4. Have your child color their snow person and glue on any features they’d like to add! Remember eyes, nose, mouth, hat scarf and arms!

Ask your child about their snow person. What features did they add?

Paper Plate Snowflakes

If you are interested in adding some winter decorations to your child’s room or to the playroom, paper plate snowflakes are the perfect option. Not to mention they are fun to make!

Materials:

  • Thin, white paper plates
  • Safety scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Yarn

Instructions:

  1. Fold a paper plate to make two halves.
  2. Fold the paper plate in half again to make a cone shape.
  3. Have your child use safety scissors to cut away parts of the plate. Any small cut is great! Do not cut all the folded edges since these edges hold everything together.
  4. Unfold the paper plate to see the finished snowflake!
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 with other paper plates to make more snowflakes.
  6. Punch a hole through each snowflake. String a piece of yarn through each hole and tie the ends together.
  7. Hang the snowflakes in the room of your choice! Hanging them from the ceiling is a really exciting option!

Paper plate snowflakes are a perfect opportunity to talk to your children about nature. In nature, no two snowflakes are the same, just the same as their snowflakes will each look a little different.

You can also use the paper snowflakes to talk to your child about how snowflakes are symmetrical, meaning they are made of repeating parts. Ask your child how many of the same parts their paper snowflakes have and encourage your child to talk about the patterns in their snowflakes.

Even ask your child to describe a real snowflake. What do they feel like? What do they look like?

Snow Paint

Make snow paint and create a winter picture of what a snowy day looks like!

One of our classes at CLC enjoyed reading the book, “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats and then they talked about how the children in the story were making snowballs, igloos, snowmen and were going sledding. Students then created their own winter scene with paint. They got to use brushes of different sizes, sponges and even some glitter to show what they love to do outside in the winter time!

Materials:

  • ½ cup of salt
  • ½ cup of white flour
  • ½ cup of water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Paint brush
  • Small sponge
  • Dark construction paper
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Squeeze bottle (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Measure the salt, flour and water. Then pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Stir well with the mixing spoon to make a thick paste.
  3. Use a paint brush, small sponge or both to paint with the snow paint on a dark piece of construction paper.
  4. Allow your snow picture to dry.
  5. Use other colors of the acrylic paint to add finishing touches!

To make the snow paint look different, thin it with water and put it into a squeeze bottle. Let your child squeeze the paint onto the paper! Ask your child to talk to you about the picture they are creating as they work.

Use this project as an opportunity to talk to your child about real snow. Explain that snow is made of tiny pieces of ice. The ice reflects light and colors. When many colors reflect at the same time, we see white. Ask our child to describe the sparkling snow. Can they see any colors in the sparkles?

Start a Craft Drawer or Bin

If you want to do more crafts like these, start a craft drawer or bin at home. That way, you will have supplies on hand when you and your child are ready to start a new project! Make sure to have construction paper, paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, buttons, pom poms, ribbon, squeeze bottles, and any other items that your child likes to use when doing art projects.

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!

Winter Science Experiments

Nurture your child’s curiosity by introducing simple science experiments! Science experiments give toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to explore and learn in new ways. It also allows them to learn about new topics in the world around them.

Since we are in the season of winter, it is easy and fun to incorporate basic lessons about the season when doing science experiments with your child at home and in a hands-on way. Some can be done indoors, while others can be taken outdoors to utilize the chilly temperatures as a tool for teaching. But, you will not need real snow to participate in any of them. In fact, you can even create your own!

These experiments will help answer questions like; how do animals stay warm in winter? Why does your breath freeze in the cold? What happens to water when it gets cold?

The teachers at Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) are sharing experiments they love doing with students in the classroom, that can also be done at home. We are also sharing experiments from CLC’s Play to Learn Book. Find a list of materials and steps for each, below. Many of these experiments only require a few materials.

Make Snow Inside

Make snow with your child INSIDE! They will be thrilled to see how a couple of basic ingredients create a pile of snow that they can play with on the table or inside a bin. They will not even have to worry about it melting! Best of all, you will only need two ingredients and this activity will result in hours of play time.

Materials:

  • 3 cups of baking soda
  • ½ cup of white hair conditioner

Instructions:

  1. Combine the baking soda and white hair conditioner.
  2. Let your child explore in their pile of snow! Let them create igloos, snow angels or even get little cars and other figures to play with in the snow. The possibilities are endless!

Talk to your child about what they like to do in the snow and why. Ask them how the snow they created feels and how it looks. How does it compare to the snow they play with outside? What is the same? What is different?

Is your child learning their letters? Spread the snow out on the table and ask them trace letters with their finger!

Blubber Experiment

Teach your child how animals with blubber stay warm even in the icy ocean water, using a simple science experiment!

Materials:

  • Plastic baggies
  • Lard
  • Bowl of ice water

Instructions:

  1. Put the lard in one baggie. 
  2. Place your child’s hand in a clean baggie and put it into the ice water for a couple of seconds.
  3. Then place your child’s hand inside the baggie with lard and put it into the ice water for a couple of seconds. 
  4. Ask your child what difference they felt between the two times they put their hands in the water.
  5. Explain to your child that when they placed their hand with the “blubber” in the ice water it stayed warm. People wear warm clothes to stay warm in the winter but animals don’t wear clothes, they have blubber, and that’s how they stay warm even in icy cold water!

After doing this experiment, read books about and look at photos of animals that live in cold climates and have blubber to keep them warm! Seals, whales and walruses are great examples of animals that have blubber to keep them warm in cold water!

Freeze Your Breath

Head outside for this science experiment… or just to your kitchen freezer! This experiment will teach your child about why their breath freezes in the winter and what they observe when it happens.

Materials:

  • Drinking glass
  • Magnifying glass
  • Paper towel

Instructions:

  1. Put the drinking glass outside (if the temperature is below freezing) or in the freezer. Leave it there for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pick up the glass. Bring it close to your mouth and blow your hot breath onto the glass.
  3. Ask your child to look at the glass and tell you what they see. (There should be frost on the glass).
  4. Look at the frost through the magnifying glass. Ask your child what they see now. Can they see anything they didn’t see before?
  5. Go inside and put the glass on a paper towel. Check it every few minutes. You will see the frost melting into water and dripping down the glass. Ask you child what they are seeing.

If the temperature outside is below freezing, it is also fun to put coats on and go outside to let children experiment with their breath. Ask them what they notice. Does their breath freeze into clouds? Ask your child about animals. Does your child think that animal breath freezes in the cold weather?

Melting Away

Teach your child about what happens to their breath in the wintertime. You can head outside for this activity, or to the kitchen freezer!

Materials:

  • Non-paper plate
  • Several sheets of dark paper
  • Various frozen substances including: ice cubes, snow, freezer frost, ice cream and popsicles
  • Magnifying glass

Instructions:

  1. Place a non-paper plate on a table in a warm place.
  2. Put a sheet of dark paper on the plate.
  3. Put any frozen object on the dark paper.
  4. Watch what happens to the object by looking through a magnifying glass. Ask your child what changes they see.
  5. Remove the paper and throw it away when the object has melted. Place a new paper on the plate. Repeat steps 3 – 4 with a different item.
  6. Repeat the steps as many times as you like and watch different things melt.

If you live somewhere with snow, help children catch snowflakes on dark paper. Look at the snowflakes with the magnifying glass before bringing them indoors to melt. Ask your child how the object were each alike and different in this activity. Ask them what caused the frozen items to melt.

Trapped in Ice

Freeze small toys into blocks of ice and create hours of fun. This will also show your child what makes things freeze and melt, as well as what water looks like as a liquid and as a solid.

Materials:

  • Small waterproof toys or object like plastic animals, marbles, shells buttons and blocks
  • Re-sealable plastic bags of any size
  • Water
  • Your kitchen freezer
  • Baking pan or tray with raised edges

Instructions:

  1. Put the small waterproof toys or objects into re-sealable plastic bags. Let your child put many objects in one bag or decide to put one in many bags. Encourage them to group the objects in different ways. For example, by color or size.
  2. Fill each bag two-thirds of the way with water.
  3. Squeeze out as much air as possible in order to tightly close each bag.
  4. Place the sealed bags in the freezer. Leave them in the freezer for several hours, until the water is frozen solid. Overnight might work best!
  5. Remove the bags from the freezer. Hold he bags under running warm water for 10 – 15 seconds to loosen the ice block inside.
  6. Show your child the bag. Ask them what they notice now that the water turned solid. What happened to the toys inside? How about what happened to the toys? Encourage children to touch the ice and describe how it feels.
  7. Open the bags. Slide the ice blocks onto a baking pan.
  8. Ask your child to free the objects from the ice blocks! How can they do it? Be sure they have adult supervision and they can scrape the ice with a spoon, hit it with an object or let the ice melt!

For some extra fun and a little competition, turn it into a race. Have each sibling or friend freeze the same type of object and see who can free theirs first! Whoever wins can be named the Ice Master and wins the game!

All of these winter science experiments will teach your child a little bit about what happens in nature during the winter and why! These science experiments will also help your child talk about what they see and feel in the winter, keeping their curious minds engaged and learning.

Even after your experiments are over, they provide an opportunity to continue talking to your child about the winter season. When you head outside, ask them how they feel. What do they like about winter? What do they dislike? When they go outside, what do they see? 

For more fun activities like these, order CLC’s Play to Learn Book.

Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC) is committed to providing early childhood education for all families, with direct services and programs focused in health, nutrition & family support for children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age. Find more information about enrollment, here!