I love studying the ocean. And teaching it to children is so much fun because it’s almost like teaching them about a whole other world! It typically doesn’t take much to get students engaged in the ocean, ocean animals, beaches, tides, and all of the wonders of the sea. This DIY Ocean Animal Sensory Bottle for Preschoolers is made with the simplest ingredients. I love that this ocean sensory bottle can be so many things: a fun craft, a review of ocean animals, a calming sensory experience, or maybe just an ocean themed review of letters (depending on what you fill the bottle with)!

– Life Over C's Ocean themed sensory bottle for preschool.

Recommended Grade Level:

Ocean Sensory Bottle Supplies:

  • Plastic Bottle
  • Clear Glue
  • Sea Life Beads
  • Bright Beads
  • Water

Sensory Activities for Preschoolers


Sensory activities for kids allow their brains to make deeper connections with the concepts they are exploring. One of the great things about sensory activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners is that you can easily adapt the content, skill, or theme.

I like to make this DIY ocean sensory bottle with children first, and then let them use it for exploration later. Going through the step-by-step directions is a science project in itself! Watch out for choking hazards when adding small beads to the water bottle if you are working with toddlers.

The preschool ocean sensory bottle can be used to learn names of ocean animals, or you can add letters or numbers to the bottle to make it more about literacy or math skills.

Once you make the ocean themed sensory bottle there are lots of types of play your child can engage in.

As your child is playing or exploring the ocean sensory activity, encourage thought by asking questions:

  • How did you make the ocean sensory bottle?
  • What kind of liquid did you put in the sensory bottle?
  • Did you add solids to the liquid?
  • What colors/animals/letters do you see?
  • Can you find a ….(animal/letter/number)?
  • Why did you put glue in the sensory bottle?
  • How did you stop the sensory water bottle from leaking?
– Life Over C's All you need for the DIY ocean sensory bottle is clear glue, beads, water, and a clear bottle.

What Can Preschoolers Learn from Sensory Bottles?


Whether children explore in an ocean sensory bin, bottle, bag, or something else, sensory activities are important:

  • Learn specific subject matter
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Stimulate language development
  • Improve fine/gross motor skills
  • Calming effect
– Life Over C's Up close view of the contents inside of the ocean sensory bottle.

Why Is It Important For Kids To Explore With Senses?

Kids love ocean sensory activities but, there are many other reasons you should implement sensory play throughout the school year, regardless of the theme.

Develop Language

Sensory play is a wonderful way to encourage talking! It provides a context to promote interest in a specific subject and a hands-on experience to talk about.

Improve Vocabulary

Theme-based sensory play is a great way to introduce children to subject specific vocabulary, like ocean names or ocean animal names.

Increase Brain Connections

The more senses that are engaged when a child is learning about a topic, the more neural connections will be made in the brain. Strong neural pathways set the stage for all future learning.

Strengthen Motor Skills

Grabbing, pinching, folding, shaking, cutting, and turning (just to name a few) are actions necessary to build up gross and fine motor skills. Sensory play with play dough and other sensory materials promotes all of that and more, depending on each specific activity.

They loved this more than Play doh. I was amazed. “

I did this today with my daycare kids. They loved this more than Play doh. I was amazed. With it being too cold to go outside, this was great. Honestly they played for 1.5 hours and probably would of longer, but we had to get lunch ready. Thank you so much for this.

How To Make the DIY Ocean Animal Sensory Bottle


  • Plastic Bottle
  • Clear Glue
  • Sea Life Beads
  • Bright Beads
  • Water


  1. Pour the bottle of glue into the plastic bottle.
  2. Add the beads to the bottle.
  3. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water, leaving a small amount of space at the top.  Do not overfill.
  4. Close the bottle and shake well.

NOTE: If you notice the bottle bubbling up, you can skim the bubbles off with a spoon and discard. Warm water mixes best with the glue.

Optional substitutions for glue include: baby oil, corn syrup

You can also add drops of food coloring or additional beads.

Extend the Activity:

I Spy

Use the ocean sensory bottle as a fun way to spy on all of the animals in the bottle. Take turns being the person who “spies” something.

Counting Practice

Get some counting practice by finding and counting all of the red/blue/green fish, animals, or beads in the sensory bottle.

Create a Story

Use the objects in the bottle as a springboard for silly stories! Ever heard about the green whale that only ate broccoli?!

Do you love this activity?

Pin it for later!

– Life Over C's How to make an ocean sensory bottle for preschool.
– Life Over C's Create your own preschool ocean sensory bottle.
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author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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