Fish Scales DIY Sensory Bottle

This sparkly EASY peasy sensory bottle features slow, flowing movement that makes for a fantastic calm down tool. Plus, we sneak some learning in that engages kids with the wonder of science and nature!

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Sensory bottles are one of our favorite ways to make learning more real: it gives an actual hold-able representation of the concept. It helps make it fun, which is what we’re all about when it comes to learning.

Our over 10 years teaching marine biology makes us super nerdy and passionate about sharing the coolness, so before we get to the how-to, let’s get our feet wet with a bit about fish scales!

  • Fish scales are like thin fingernails that cover the fish’s skin and protect it.
  • There are four different kinds of scales that all look a little different.
  • Scales have rings like the rings of a tree that show the age of the scale. It can help us estimate how old a fish is.
    • Fun related fact: The ear bones of fish also have growth rings that more accurately tell the age of the fish since they never fall off. So cool!
  • Not all fish have scales.
  • Many fish feel slimy because they usually have a layer of slime or mucous that covers their bodies.

Fish come in all shapes and sizes: some are speedsters, some are slow-pokes; some are colorful, while some are nearly invisible!

We have a special fondness for fish in all their various forms: in fact in our four ocean-themed children’s books, we’ve included a TON of fish including:

sea dragon
flying fish
ocean sunfish
mako shark
blue ribbon eel
spotted stingray
leopard shark
pygmy seahorse
whale shark
manta ray
wolf eel
goblin shark
flashlight fish
queen angelfish

Wowza, do we think fish are awesome! We hope you share the love and check out our children’s books (geared for ages 4-8) on our Amazon author page here.

Want to dive in a bit deeper to fish forms? Take a look at this TED-Ed lesson Why are fish fish-shaped?

And now for the easy how-to!

You’ll Need:

  • sensory bottle (we used this one from Michaels)
  • clear dish soap
  • clear & silver sequins
  • funnel with opening that fits the sequins (or use your hand or paper to help guide the sequins)

A few notes:

To help our oceans and environment, we prefer not to use glitter. The pretty sparkle is made of plastic that can look like fish food, so fish and other animals eat it. This causes all sorts of trouble, even leading to plastic bits being in the very fish we eat!

If there comes a day that you want to reuse the bottle for something else, please discard the sequins tightly in a trash container to prevent them from being washed down the drain (bad for your pipes anyway) or released into nature where they could be mistaken for food by animals. Better yet, pass on your sparkly creation so that someone else can share in the wonder of fish scales!

All you do? So simple:

  1. Add the sequins to the sensory bottle. (Make sure you hold the bottle securely, as it’s easy to knock over…unless you want to play a game of sequin-pick-me-up like we did TWICE, ha!)
  2. Add clear dish soap to fill the bottle.
  3. Put the cap on. (You may want to glue it on to prevent it from being opened or spilled.)

These make great gift ideas for kids, too — you could make it to give someone, or put together the supplies in a kit for them to make as a craft activity.

TIP: If you’re tempted to try rainbow sequins, know that there’s a good chance the liquid will turn muddy red. This was our first attempt…yikes!

Want to turn this into a spooky apothecary jar for Halloween? It’s easy with our free printable label!

For even more ocean-themed sensory bottles, check out:

Live porpoisefully, The Taylors

Disclaimer: All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.

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