How to make your own lava lamp style bottle and bag sensory activities. This is a super simple sensory activity for toddlers and preschoolers for Valentine’s Day.
My kids love to make sensory bottles and sensory bags with me.
I’ve noticed that they don’t really enjoy playing with them as much after they have been made.
Check out our 48 Five Senses Activities for Kids to Explore All Five
I started to evaluate why?
For my daughter, who is 17 months old, I noticed the items in the bags are often too difficult for her to move around. The liquid is usually too thick, like hair gel or shaving cream or paint.
For my son who is 3.5 years old I’ve noticed the sensory bottles move too fast. He doesn’t have time to really watch the items moving around in the bottles. We usually use water and oil.
So I thought, why not combine them and make something easy to move around in the sensory bags and something that moves slower in the bottles!
We also noticed that combining oil and gel or glue created a lava lamp sensory effect!
Lava Lamp Sensory Bottles
First we made lava lamp sensory bottles and had Valentine’s Day in mind.
We thought we would do some “Bee Mine” sensory bottles.
For The Blue and Yellow Makes Green Lava Lamp Sensory Bottle You Will Need:
- Yellow canola or vegetable oil
- Clear Glue (or blue hair gel)
- Small loose parts to add into the bottles we used
- little bumble bees from a game
- Pom poms
- plastic beads
- rubber vines from a lost toy
- wooden craft animals
- plastic butterflies
- Glitter or sparkles
- Blue food coloring
- Clear empty bottle
- Strong tape
First step was to fill it half way up with glue (or hair gel).
Next we added food coloring.
For Charlie’s Bee Mine lava lamp sensory bottle we went with blue glue and yellow oil so it was a color mixing bottle too!
We are working on yellow and blue makes green right now so I used this as an opportunity to continue along that learning groove.
Then we started adding in our loose parts.
This was Charlie’s favorite part I think! He just loves playing with tiny things.
We made sure not to overdo it with the loose parts as we still wanted to be able to see the lava lamp effect of the sensory bottle.
Now for glitter!
This is obviously an optional ingredient. But we sure do love glitter here.
Now it was time to add the oil.
Normally I would use an inexpensive option for the oil but we were all out… So olive oil it was.
I wouldn’t actually recommend olive oil for the lava lamp sensory bottles because it can be kind of cloudy.
Best to use baby oil for a clear oil or I find vegetable and canola oil to be excellent for keeping it’s glassy consistency.
Make sure to fill it as close to the very top of the bottle as you can to make sure there isn’t a big air bubble in the middle of your lava lamp sensory bottle.
Personally I took over the oil pouring when it was getting close to full.
Now it was time to add the lid, wipe off excess oil with a baby wipe and seal the lid on with some strong tape!
Time For Playing
My son being the little monkey he is wanted to mix it up really well first thing!
And so you can imagine what that looked like.
But we didn’t have to wait too long for the oil and glue to separate again.
On the one hand it did make the glue turn blue much faster than if he had been on the more gentle side.
And finally it was time to play with the lava lamp sensory bottle and watch the colors combine to make green!
For Valentine’s Red and White Bee Mine Lava Lamp Sensory Bottle You Need
- Clear Baby oil
- Clear glue (or clear hair gel)
- Red food coloring
- Strong Tape
- Glitter (optional)
- Loose parts like:
- felt hearts
- little craft bumble bees (we had plastic ones from a game)
- Pom poms,
- plastic beads
- shiny foil hearts
For Maisie’s red and clear Bee Mine lava lamp sensory bottle we used the same process only using slightly different supplies.
I didn’t get any pictures of the making process with Maisie because I needed to be extremely focused since there was quite a few tiny parts she could have eaten when I wasn’t looking!
As I’m sure you can see by the look on her face, Maisie at 17 months had whole lot of fun with her lava lamp sensory bottle!
I used permanent marker to write “Bee Mine” on the red tape for an added Valentine’s Day theme.
How to Make Lava Lamp Guess Hoo Loves You Sensory Bag
Now it was time to try out my idea in a sensory bag and see how the lava lamp effect would work there.
If you like sensory bags we have a gathered a great list of 48 of them for you here.
Turns out it was even more fun!
For the Lava Lamp Sensory Bags You Need:
- Sealable freezer bag
- Clear baby oil
- Clear glue or Clear hair gel
- strong tape like used for ductwork
- food coloring
- loose parts like:
- plastic and felt hearts
- plastic and wooden beads
- Wooden craft animals like owls
- pom poms
- glitter (optional)
First thing I did was squeeze a whole bottle of clear glue into a large freezer baggy.
Next I added the red food coloring.
I squished it all around to get the glue and food coloring all mixed up.
Do this part slowly to limit the amount of air bubbles you get mixed into the thicker liquid.
And then I added my owls and Valentine’s Day themes loose parts.
I love activities like this that are super versatile.
I added about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of baby oil.
You don’t need a lot of oil, just enough to keep it easy to manoeuvre the gel or glue and keep it separating to look like a lava lamp.
Next I sealed the freezer bag shut with as little air in it as possible!
Lastly I wiped off any oil spills and added a strong duct tape boarder to the whole lava lamp sensory bag so the kids could play with it anywhere they wanted!
Time to Explore
This was an awesome activity!
Both Charlie and Maisie had a total blast with this for days!
They pushed things around in the sensory bag and loved the wase and effect of the lava lamp!
We took it around the house and stomped and danced on it slipping a little now and then.
And they even held it up and spun it around to watch everything slowly slide down to the bottom and then flipped it around to do watch it again.
We will be repeating these lava lamp sensory activities many times for sure!
They are so versitile and so simple to put together.
Bonus, great way to use up the odds and ends left over from other crafts and activities we have done!