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Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Countdown: Spooky Sensory Bottles

4 days 'til Halloween!

Yesterday we finally got those big pumpkins carved! Calvin and I had painted the little ones, of course, and James and Hartley (our cousin) carved the big ones. Check 'em out!!

In case you don't recognize him, this is Buddy the T-Rex
from the show Dinosaur Train, which is Calvin's latest TV obsession :)

Go Giants!! Another World Series win last night!! #yesyesyes

Today's Halloween play idea is Spooky Sensory Bottles!

When Calvin was about 9 months old, I made him a set of sensory bottles. Recently, I pulled them out for Henry and realized that they are actually too heavy and fat for him to pick up because of his hypotonia and delayed motor skills.

"It's great and all, mom, but I bet it'd be more fun if I could pick it up..."
So I decided to make a new set for Henry using different bottles. And I thought it would be a nice opportunity to tie in a Halloween theme :)

We have lots of these "baby soda bottles" around because James is a homebrewer and his brewer's yeast comes in them. They are great for sensory bottles. The clear ones are best, but all the ones we had happen to be tinted gray... I used them anyway rather than buying anything new. They're a really nice size and shape for Henry to pick up and manipulate.

I mostly used things I already had in my craft supplies, but I did buy some little plastic pumpkins (they were called "table scatter" and they were in the dollar section at Target) and some little plastic spiders.

Here's a description for each bottle that I made (from left to right):

1. corn syrup + multicolored sequins
I think sequins are the best filler for a corn syrup sensory bottle because they are light and they move easily through the thick syrup. Heavier items tend to clump up or not move around much.

2. water + fine purple glitter + pearl beads

3. water + coarse green glitter + star sequins + one plastic spider
The spider is really too big, so it doesn't move. It's stuck there in the middle. But I actually like it that way with the glitter and the stars floating around it.

4. water + fine green glitter + plastic pumpkins
This light green glitter looks like kind of a sickly pea soup shade in the gray bottle. But I figure that makes it more spooky, right?

5. corn syrup + red food coloring + yellow food coloring + purple buttons
This one was inspired by the book/movie Coraline... and by my insistence on using stuff I already had on hand ;) The buttons are pretty heavy for the corn syrup, though. They don't move around much.

Here are all the materials I used to fill the bottles:

Not Pictured: Water ;)
Some notes & tips for making your own sensory bottles:

- When you add food coloring to corn syrup, it will take a while to diffuse. So for a while, it will look all cool like this:

But it won't stay that way. As you play with it and flip it over and over, eventually the syrup will be completely colored.

- When you add glitter to water it will look all clumpy and weird at first. Just give it a few good shakes and it will loosen up. The finer the glitter, the more clumpy it will be.

- When adding sequins or other items to corn syrup, less is more. It's really cool to watch them slowly ooze from one end of the bottle to the other... but if you put too many bigger items inside, they can get clogged up and stuck. And if you put too many sequins or too much glitter, it will diffuse throughout the syrup and you won't be able to see them ooze from one end to the other.

- Don't fill them up to the brim. You want the liquid to be able to move around, so you'll need an air bubble. Leave some room at the top of your bottles before you cap them. I like to leave a bigger bubble in the corn syrup tubes than in the water tubes.

- Don't be afraid to dump it and start over, or make changes as you go. That orange tube kept looking too dark to me, so I kept pouring some out and adding more clear syrup to lighten it. The one with the sequins had too many sequins at first so I did the same thing: I poured a bunch out and added plain syrup.

- Glue them closed. You can put a couple of dots of super glue on the threads and then screw the caps on. I learned the hard way when Calvin was capable of unscrewing a cap!

The kids both love these new sensory bottles! Actually, the grown-ups around here kind of love them too ;)

Check out my other Halloween Countdown posts for more toddler/baby play ideas!

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