When my son was a toddler, the word “No” could send him into a tailspin at the drop of a hat. I knew it would happen, and believe me I always thought twice before uttering the word. It’s definitely normal for toddlers and preschoolers to become overwhelmed emotionally. And also normal for them to react strongly when adults tell them ‘no’. It takes time, modeling, and practice for them to learn how to cope with strong emotions. These Winter Sensory Bottles for Preschoolers and Toddlers provide an amazing tool to help teach children how to calm down.
The winter themed sensory bottle requires a water bottle, glitter, and clear glue. Then, you can add other wintery items like snowflakes, blue beads, or tiny snowmen. This easy winter sensory activity is simple to put together and SO VALUABLE!
When it’s all over and both you and your child are feeling calmer, how about some hot chocolate?! You deserve it.
Table of Contents
- How to Teach Coping Skills
- How to Make the Winter Sensory Bottle
- Tips for Creating the Perfect Sensory Bottle
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Sensory Bottle Benefits for Children:
- How Do You Use a Sensory Bottle?
- Additional Sensory Winter Activities for Calming a Child
- Get 35+ Winter Themed Math & Literacy Activities in One Bundle
- More Activities You’ll Love:
- More Sensory Bottles Kids Love!
How to Teach Coping Skills
Children need a lot of things, from the most basic needs like food and shelter, to more complex requirements like a consistent schedule, a stable family, and lots of love and affection.
Social and emotional learning and growth is a huge part of early childhood development. All of a child’s early experiences form their view of the world and their understanding of how they fit and function within it.
When it comes to whining, tantrums, and generally unacceptable behaviors in toddlers and preschoolers, our job is to be calm and consistent in the midst of chaos. A tall order? Yes! That’s where hands-on winter sensory play comes in pretty handy.
Validate and name children’s emotions when they happen, then give them an opportunity to cope by removing them from the situation. Enter the sensory bottle!
How to Make the Winter Sensory Bottle
Materials for the Winter Sensory Bottle
- Clear Plastic Bottle (I recommend using a plastic Voss water bottle)
- Warm Water
- Bottle of Glue
- Blue Sequins
- Snowflake Confetti
- Silver Chunky Glitter
- Fill the sensory bottle 1/4 full with the clear glue and add a small amount of warm water. Gently swirl the bottle to mix the glue and water together.
- Add the snowflake sequins, desired amount of glitter, sequins, and fishbowl beads.
- Fill the remainder of the bottle with warm water, leaving a small space at the top to allow movement.
- Use duct tape or clear glue to secure the lid to prevent spills.
- Shake the contents of the bottle around until the contents of the bottle
move around slowly and freely.
Tips for Creating the Perfect Sensory Bottle
- The glue in the sensory bottle helps to slow down the glitter inside and provide for a longer sensory experience. You can test out different amounts of glue to find the perfect amount to fit your preference.
- You can add additional decorations to the sensory bottle to fit your child’s needs. Adding their favorite colors of glitter can help to keep their attention.
- Snow globes are also a great option for a calm down tool. Instead of a plastic bottle, you can create a personalized snow globe, such as our homemade snow globe craft for kids.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the best liquid for sensory bottles?
There are many options for liquid in a sensory bottle and each provides a different experience. Water and glue or corn syrup mixture provides a slow liquid for the glitter and decorations to settle in. You can use a combination of water and cooking oil (vegetable oil or olive oil), baby oil, or mineral oil to create layers in a sensory bottle.
Why is my glitter clumping in my sensory bottle?
If your glitter is clumping at the top of your sensory bottle, add a couple drops of any dish soap to the bottle
How do you stop a sensory bottle from leaking?
Your sensory bottle should not leak if the lid is properly closed. However, kids love to unscrew lids which can lead to leaks and spills. I recommend using duct tape, hot glue or super glue to seal the lid on the bottle to prevent kids from loosing the lid.
What is the best size for a sensory bottle?
We use 16 oz. Voss Plastic water bottles or purchase 12 oz. plastic water bottles in bulk on Amazon. We find the Voss bottles and those of similar shape and size to be the most manageable for small hands.
What age are sensory bottles for?
Sensory bottles are great for kids of all ages. Infants and toddlers can use sensory bottles with appropriate supervision to prevent them from throwing or hitting with the bottle. Most preschoolers and school age children can use sensory bottles independently to help them calm down or just to explore the beautiful colors and items inside.
Can sensory bottles be used for learning?
Yes, yes, yes!! We have a variety of sensory bottles on Life Over C’s that promote learning through a variety of themes and skills. You can view all of our sensory bottles here.
What is the purpose of sensory bottles?
Fun sensory bottles capture the attention of children of all ages. By focusing their attention on the movement of the objects and liquid inside the sensory bottle, those big emotions like anger, frustration and anxiety can lessen and children can calm down.
Sensory Bottle Benefits for Children:
Motor Skills: As children explore sensory bottles, such as this winter sensory bottle, they are building fine motor skills (such as grasp and pointing at objects) and gross motor skills (such as shaking, turning, and flipping). Motor skills are important in childhood development and play an important role in our overall lives.
Emotional Regulation: Sensory bottles promote self-regulation, a sense of calm, and can guide the child toward positive emotions as they explore the contents of the bottle.
Sensory Exploration: Using a variety of sensory bottles, children can explore the sense of sound (shaking the bottle) and sight (exploring the contents of the calm down jar or sensory bottle.)
Language Development: Ask children to describe what they see in their calm down bottle. Talk to them about what they feel as they shake, roll and turn their bottle. Talking to them while they explore the bottle not only builds language development skills, it also helps them learn to express themselves calmly in an otherwise stressful time.
How Do You Use a Sensory Bottle?
How to Use the Sensory Winter-Themed Bottle
Teach children the procedure for using the winter sensory bottle during a calm, non-emotional time (ie., NOT during the impending meltdown:)
Talk about situations where a child might feel angry/frustrated/sad/overwhelmed. Tell them that those emotions are normal and everybody feels them from time to time.
However, if we yell/hit/scream/cry/kick when we feel that way we only hurt others or ourselves.
Instead, we can go to a quiet place (designate this specific place ahead of time) to calm down. You can place the winter sensory bottle in the quiet space, or you can leave it in a specific area where children know it will be and they can carry it with them to the clam down spot.
Then, they can shake the sensory bottle and watch its contents settle. Teach children to wait while the snowflake glitter and beads settle. If they still feel emotional, they can shake again and repeat.
Once they feel calm, they can return to the previous activity.
What are Other Items I Can Use in a Sensory Bottle?
There are endless combinations and ways that you can create sensory bottles. You don’t have to purchase special materials to create a simple calming resource for your children.
Here are some ingredients you might already have on hand, at no extra cost that are great for sensory bottles:
- Pom Poms
- Perler Beads
- Alphabet Beads
- Small Toys
- Water Beads
- Loom Bands
- Googly Eyes
- Pipe Cleaners
Liven up the sensory bottles even more by adding some color to your liquid ingredients. Here are some ideas:
- Food Coloring
- Liquid Watercolors
- Glow in the Dark Sticks
- Fairy Lights
Additional Sensory Winter Activities for Calming a Child
Calming activities for kids should be low-key and quiet. Try to set them up in an area that isn’t overly stimulating or loud.
- Play dough or cloud dough are a great way to keep little hands moving while they breathe through emotions or take a break from a stressful situation.
- Winter sensory bins can also distract a child when they are upset, whether they sift through play snow or cotton balls, it provides a healthy way to cope while strengthening fine motor skills.
- Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery: outside to play in the real snow, into a different room of the house, or a drive in the car.
- Other winter sensory ideas for toddlers that typically engage them fully: science experiments, baking, or other craft projects.
Included in the Winter Math and Literacy Pack:
- 2 Sets of Number Mats (empty ten-frame, filled ten-frame)
- Beginning Sound Match Up
- 4 Sets of Clip Cards (color, ten-frame, array, shape)
- Winter and Summer Clothing Sort
- Class Set of Ten-Frame BINGO
- 2 Graphing Dice Games
- 2 Spinner Graphing Games
- Line Tracing Cards
- Line-Up Puzzles for Counting to 5 & 10
- 4 Matching Games (picture, number, alphabet, rhyme)
- Missing Number Cards
- 3 Levels of AB Patterns
- Winter Play Dough Mats
- 2 Sets of Counting to 10 Puzzles (array, ten-frame)
- 2 Roll and Count Mats
- 2 Sets of Sorting Activities (shapes and big/small)
- 5 Spin & Cover Games (1-5, 6-10, shape, picture)
- 4 Sets of Tracing Cards (uppercase, lowercase, number, shape)
- Visual Discernment Clip Cards
- Trace, Write & Draw the Room
- Ten-Frame Cards
More Activities You’ll Love:
More Sensory Bottles Kids Love!
- Alphabet Sensory Bottle
- Turtle Theme Sensory Bottle
- Winter Snowflake Glitter Sensory Bottle
- Roses are Red Valentine’s Day Sensory Bottle
- Ocean Wave Sensory Bottle