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DIY Glitter Sensory Bottles for Children With Autism

Closeup of glitter bottle

Sometimes, it helps to have a fun fidget toy that will calm and refocus an overstimulated child. You can make a glitter bottle with captivating, floating glitter that will be the perfect addition to a quiet space or activity for sensory break time.

How to Create a Basic Glitter Bottle

Making a basic glitter bottle is easy and will take about 20 minutes if you gather up the appropriate supplies ahead of time. Depending on the child's age and functioning level, this can be a great hands-on craft for you to do together.

Things You'll Need

  • An old 20-ounce plastic soda bottle with the label removed
  • 2/3 Cup clear corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 Cups hot water
  • Elmer's Glitter Glue in any color you prefer
  • Course glitter
  • Glitter paint medium
  • Mixing spoon
  • Washable mixing bowl
  • Super glue
  • Toothpick
  • Funnel

What to Do

  1. Remove the cap from the soda or water bottle and set it aside. Don't lose the top because you'll be using it later.
  2. Squirt several squirts of glitter paint medium into the bowl. Add lots of course glitter and use a spoon to stir until there are no clumps of glitter. Add a bottle of Elmer's Glitter Glue and stir again.
  3. Add 2/3 cup corn syrup to the mixture and stir well.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups hot water and mix again.
  5. Place the funnel in the bottle and fill it with the glitter mixture. Allow the liquid to cool in a safe place. Wash out the bowl and spoon before the mixture dries.
  6. Once the glitter liquid is cool, use a toothpick to apply super glue to the threads on the inside of the bottle cap. Twist the cap on tightly and allow the glue to dry.

Two-Color Variation

Two-color blue and green variation

You can add a second color to your glitter bottle for even more fun. You'll need mineral oil and a special kind of oil-based food coloring, such as Wilton Candy Colors, to make this work.

  1. Fill about half the bottle with the regular mixture.
  2. Then, in a separate bowl, mix mineral oil and the desired amount and color of the oil-based food coloring.
  3. Pour the oil mixture over the corn syrup and water mixture and glue the top on.
  4. Shake the bottle to create swirling patterns and see the glitter flow through the colors.

Captivating Additions

You can make your glitter bottle fascinating by adding some extra things that will help keep the child's attention and personalize the design:

  • Add large glitter or confetti pieces to watch float in the liquid.
  • Change the color of the main liquid by adding a few drops of water-based food coloring.
  • Experiment with different colors of glitter or glitter glue.
  • Decorate the outside of the bottle with markers or stickers.

Using a Sensory Bottle With Kids on the Spectrum

The world can be very bright and loud for kids with autism. It's hard to tune things out sometimes, and it can also be difficult to manage emotions. There are lots of ways you can use this sensory bottle to help.

Find Their Focus

If a child is having a hard time focusing on the task at hand, whether that's picking up toys at home or working on lessons at school, a sensory bottle can be a way to refocus attention. Find a quiet spot and take five minutes with the bottle. The child may be able to focus on her work after this little sensory break.

Count to Calm

Sometimes, a meltdown is already happening before the child has a chance to regulate his emotions and respond appropriately. Find a spot to sit and turn the bottle slowly. Count each turn and watch the glitter settle through the liquid. This can help the child calm down enough to process what is happening that's upsetting.

Signal a Transition

Transitions from one activity to another can be a challenge for kids with autism. It's much easier if there's warning when there will be a new activity, location, or other change. You can use the sensory bottle as a fun and calm way to signal a transition is in progress. Hand the child the bottle at the end of one activity, allowing her to turn in a few times. Then move on to a new activity. In time, she will associate the bottle with a calmer transition.

Calm and Regulate

No matter how you use the sensory bottle, have fun customizing it with colors, glitter, and fun floating objects. This is a great hands-on activity, as well as a wonderful sensory tool to calm and regulate a child with autism.

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DIY Glitter Sensory Bottles for Children With Autism