Sensory Bottles | Experimenting with Absorption

Have you ever made sensory bottles? How about with older kids? Around here, we love sensory bottles for all ages. In fact, we love them so much, we have a whole series surrounding this subject. Today for Saturday Science, I’ve decided to mix the two… sensory and science. Today’s sensory bottles demonstrate a fun way of experimenting with absorption.

Sensory Bottles for Discovering Absorption


Sensory bottles are a great tool for babies, toddlers, and children of all ages. They can be used for scientific discovery, language development, fine motor, and proprioceptive input. You can read more about the benefits of sensory bottles and the basics of what they are in Part One of the series… The What, How and Why.

One of our favorite ongoing series is our 12 Months of Sensory Dough. If you aren’t familiar it is a series where we explore and investigate popular sensory doughs and learn the science behind them. Just a few months ago, we were studying Moon Sand and its properties when we made a fascinating discovery. This led us to want to explore more and test other materials for their hydrophilic and hydrophobic qualities (absorption).

Sensory Bottles for Experimenting with Absorption

Science Sensory Bottles

What You Need:

Plastic Bottles (We love these beautiful BPA Free bottles)

A Variety of Materials That Absorb and Repel Water (click here for a FULL LIST of MATERIALS)

Play Sand
Moon Dough
Water Beads


Super Glue (optional)

Moon Dough + Water

Moon Dough Sensory Bottles

Moon Dough is really neat because it has properties that make it both hydrophilic and hydrophobic. The result is really interesting when you put it in water. This is probably one of the boys (age 7&9) favorite sensory bottles. I would say at least once a day I find them shaking and spinning.

They even made a game out of the bottle to see who could make the longest tornado. It is really cool to watch it separate and then come back together again. We have had this sensory bottle for about 3 months. You can see that some of the water is cloudy, but it is still in really good shape after all that shaking!

Sand + Water

Sand and Water Sensory Bottle

We couldn’t test moon sand without testing plain play sand. I will note that the clear pictures took almost a week to let all the sand settle. It was an experiment in itself. Each day we observed the water, the sand particles and timed how long it took for everything to settle. Once the sand settles, it is easy to have a lesson on the size of rocks and point out the sand particles versus the silt (the tiny particles that sit on top of the sand).

Sand and Water Sensory Bottle discoveryOnce again, the boys took this bottle and shook it until all the water turned red. Because of the sand’s hydrophilic properties, it would get trapped in the air bubbles, and get carried away in the water. It was a great demonstration for the boys, and Super B (1) loves to roll this sensory bottle and move the sand around.

One other discovery the boys made was the magnification that happens in the water. This can be done with any of the sensory bottles with water, but since this one was so clear when it was settled, it was the perfect time to discover this scientific phenomenon.

If you are looking to make hydrophobic sand to compare, Growing a Jeweled Rose has an excellent Aqua Sand Recipe.

Water Beads + Water

Water Beads Sensory Bottles

I have seen these around, I have heard of them, but can you believe we had never played with them? After talking to my dear preschool teacher friend, she suggested adding water beads to my collection of sensory bottles. She reminded me that I could get them at the dollar store in the plant section.

Boy did I learn a lot about absorption with these! They were so fun! I wish I had gotten pictures of all the stages, and I might just have to do it again to add them… but the process is simple… pour the *tiny* beads into the jar and fill with water. Then you wait. And you wait. And you wait.

Sensory Bottles with Water Beads

This is when we went a tad crazy. We added 3 PACKAGES to the water since they were so tiny. We thought, how big could they really get anyways? Can I just tell you that we have more water beads than we know what to do with right now! They just kept growing. It was such a fun and fascinating experience! You have to try it out!

If you are looking for taste safe water beads, we used these edible water beads and just followed the instruction on the package. They don’t last near as long, but they sure are fun (and tasty).

More Absorption Sensory Bottles and Experiments

Simple Water Absorption Sensory Bottle | Little Bins for Little Hands

Exploring Absorption on a Textured Board | Fun at Home with Kids

Paper Towel Dip- Water Absorption | Happy Hooligans

There are so many possibilities when teaching about absorption. You can use sensory bottles as a way to preserve the experiment and to provide proprioceptive input through the shaking or simply do the experiment separate.

What would you add to your sensory bottles for experimenting with absorption? I would love to know! Leave me a comment or stop my Facebook and tell me! Also, don’t forget to connect with me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagram or subscribe by email so you don’t miss what comes next in the SENSORY BOTTLES series!

so you don’t miss what comes next in the SENSORY BOTTLES series!


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5 thoughts on “Sensory Bottles | Experimenting with Absorption”

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