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Science Education through Sensory Bottles

As a one-year old boy, my son has already developed a healthy interest in exploring and understanding the world around him.  Now that he is walking, he is constantly moving around, touching something and exploring new objects.  I do have to stay on my toes to make sure I get there quickly when he gets into something he shouldn’t, but I’m extremely happy he is so curious.

At home, there are a lot of things for him to get into but being at home does limit the possibilities for him.  My husband and I take him out to the parks, museums, and other attractions near us as often as we can, but it is a lot of work to get him packed up and ready to go to see these things.  In addition, there are many things that we can’t find within a normal driving range of us, so I tried to find a way to make it so that he can have these experiences at home.

There are many ways to take advantage of your child’s early curiosity to teach them about the world.  Today I wanted to focus on one thing that I’ve done with my son that I believe has turned out very well.  That is, I wanted to talk about the sensory bottles that I made.  What is a sensory bottle? How do you make one? What are different options for the bottles?  These are some of the questions I want to address.

I will begin by looking at the first sensory bottle I made for Arthur, this was an ocean themed bottle.  For this bottle, I got an empty clear bottle (I used this one), some glitter glue, and some small plastic creatures that are found in the ocean ( I used ones like these). When the bottle is clean and empty, simply fill half way with water and then begin to add your small plastic creatures and glitter glue. Once you have added everything you want, fill the rest of the bottle with water and secure the lid with super glue.

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Now that I have this bottle, I leave it for him to play with on his own as he’s walking around the room. Furthermore, when we play together with the bottle, I can introduce him to underwater vocabulary like shark, dolphin, seaweed, octopus, and lobster and can point at the objects in the bottle while doing so. I further talk to him about these animals, how they behave in the wild, and other interesting facts.  He likely doesn’t understand everything, but it is like having a zoo in my house.

After playing with him with his sensory bottle, I followed up the experience by introducing him to actual fish.  We went on a fishing excursion with family and we were able to have him around the water.  While we did have to take many more safety precautions than if we were at home, we were still able to let him safely explore the fish.  We had gotten minnows for bait, and while they were in the minnow bucket, Arthur splashed around in the water and watched them as they swam around.  After catching some fish, we put these in the live well of the boat and he also got to interact with them. He thoroughly enjoyed watching the fish swim around and even reached into the water and touched the fish.

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Arthur with crappie

If you are not into fishing, visiting an aquarium is also a great way to let your child explore and learn about the world’s ocean life. Like a sensory bottle, an aquarium will allow your child to explore ocean life in a relatively safe environment and some aquariums even have opportunities for children to see and touch animals like starfish, sea urchins, and more. This article from Delaware online talks about the Delaware Children’s Museum touch tank and what guests can experience.  Here your children can get the opportunity to play with fish, without you having to catch them.

By introducing my son to fish and other water topics at home, I was able to get him excited about such things early.  Furthermore,  I was then able to his inherent curiosity to make him comfortable around these things before taking him to experience these things in person.  Therefore when I brought him to experience them in person, he was much more relaxed than he otherwise would have been.  If I had to deal with getting everything ready to go, taking care of him and a stressed child, it would be very difficult to go on these adventures with him.

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