Sensory Bottles and Baskets

Jasmine: I love sensory bottles. They’re all sorts of awesome. It’s dirt cheap (you can even put dirt in, I bet), (Andrew: oh boy, I wouldn’t put it past Jasmine to do that… *images of Jasmine digging up dirt from downstairs, or rather, getting ME to do it).
Jasmine: That’s genius dear, can you shovel some for me after you knock off work? As I was saying, sensory bottles take seconds to assemble and you can introduce baby to different things that would otherwise pose choking hazards to him.

We have written previously about toys for 6-12 months and toys for 12-18 months. Well, I guess most DIY toys can be played with at all ages, just with higher levels of dexterity and creativity as the child grows. Sensory bottles are a perfect example of a DIY toy that will appeal to all ages.

OH and just for fun, this structure we saw at Hokey Pokey must be the mother of all sensory bottles! All kinds of funny things like glitter, dice, feathers neatly encased in clear tubes that you could slide through clear tunnels and retrieve from the bottom. Methinks I can replicate this with masking tape and some 1-litre Coke bottles!

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This is our humble current collection of sensory bottles, of different weights and colours:

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From left:

1. Yellow glitter with water. This is Dyl’s favourite bottle. He loves shaking the bottle to stir up the glitter, and then throwing it aside, only to return to it again. Ironically, it looks like a sparkly version of the honey water it originally contained.

2. Furry pipe cleaners.

3. Elderberry sauce with a squirt of dishwashing liquid to create tons of frothy bubbles. Even I find this very gratifying to shake as the bubbles and red coloring swirl together very nicely.

4. Foil strips cut from a Lay’s chips packet. This is very lightweight at the moment. I’m meaning to add a couple of tiny bells for added shine and jingle.

5. Two types of pom poms, ones with “hairy” glitter that Andrew finds disturbing and the normal colourful ones.

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No Mummy, it wasn’t me…

To be on the extra safe side, I scotch-taped the caps of the liquid bottles.

The materials (glitter, pipe cleaners, pom poms) cost maybe $10 in total and took maybe 10 min in total to assemble over a couple weeks?

A look at the "full" collection, with some new additions:

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I also made a matching pair of day and night bottles.

The night bottle is made with blue food coloring (thanks to my SIL who gave me the eight colours she used for her rainbow cake so I can now make a whole other set of rainbow bottles), glow in the dark stars and bits of tin foil. The day bottle is made with a milk powder sample (to simulate sand), wooden picks for kaya toast and the train set from Dylan’s 1st birthday cake.

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I also made another pair of bottles with baby oil, and these are my favourite, I really liked the way they turned out! One is a lava bottle made with purple neon paint and blue glitter which bubbles up quite prettily, and for the other, I simply threw some pom poms and acrylic letters in! They move through baby oil slower than they move through water so it’s quite nice watching these bottles.

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Dylan likes exploring and rolling all the bottles. I thought of setting up a sensory bottle bowling alley but he prefers just throwing everything about and seeing them move.

Andrew: To be honest, Dylan really does treat them like bowling pins.

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Jasmine: He is so excited about them, he’s even learnt to climb up the coffee table to knock them over one by one! Tsk!

As a bonus, with the extra pom poms, I also made a pom pom drop and shoot toy consisting of a toilet roll (wrapped in the packaging the pom poms came in, hence the pink) and a plastic container. The original one got broken by Dilly, so I replaced the lid.

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Andrew: the furry balls creep me out!

Jasmine: Once again, another example of how Dilly doesn’t use the toys as intended- instead of dropping the pom poms into the container, he turns it sideways and uses it as a… kaleidoscope of sorts. Heh.

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Andrew: He also loves shaking it very hard and seeing the balls fly in all directions, which is how he broke the lid of the previous version of this toy.

Jasmine: Yes, sigh, inevitably, it ends up as a pom pom rocket launcher, which sends pom poms helter-skelter across the room.

20140409-212706.jpg And instead of going for the pom poms, Dilly finds a stray balled-up receipt instead

The one thing easier to assemble than sensory bottles is sensory baskets!

This is a tactile basket comprising loot from our latest shopping trip to Spotlight and Daiso, namely a microfiber porcupine mitten, laundry dryer balls and a mini dustpan, which he has really grown quite fond of this week, "sweeping" the floor whenever he sees Granny doing so.

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And this is a pair of sensory baskets to teach Dylan about square and round shapes!

In the square basket, we have a busy book, soft blocks, water blocks, a tooth box from Dylan’s man yue, and a Jonathan Adler salt-and-pepper shaker cardboard box from our honeymoon in NYC. Try to choose squares that have rounded corners to be on the safe side, as Dylan cut his lip chewing on the tooth box and we had to take it away.

In the round basket, we have a mirror, a set of free Coca-Cola coasters from Carls’ Jr, quite a few balls of different textures and sizes, an old eye cream jar and a bumblebee maracas.

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Andrew: I always thought Dearie had a flair for creating things, which was evident when she was doing her scrapbooking. I’m glad she is now channelling her creative energies into making engaging toys with learning value for our son, instead of focusing on her more ambitious home remodelling projects. (Jasmine: Oh dearie, you don’t know that I am currently conceptualising a coffee table with built in ball pit and light table for Dylan and baby sister. Once I’m done ideating, I’m calling our contractor for a quote.)

Jasmine: I’m having fun making all these DIY toys and it’s great when some of them actually prove to be a hit with Dylan!

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