Ocean Sensory Bottle with Floating Seashells

Make an ocean sensory bottle with the kids this summer! It’s the perfect sensory activity for summer camps, a preschool ocean theme, or some at-home fun.

close up of a shell discovery bottle with text that reads ocean sensory bottle

Related: Pirate Sensory Bottle

I think this summer discovery bottle would be fun after you’ve taken a trip to the beach, especially if you happen to have extra shells on-hand. Just be sure to thoroughly clean those shells if they were picked up at the beach.

AND this would be a fun sensory activity for kids who want to explore the beach but can’t get to one just yet.

How to Make an Ocean Sensory Bottle

Don’t worry, it’s not a difficult process at all. Take my word for it, the kids are going to have a blast helping.

Shell Sensory Bottle Materials

Empty plastic bottle

Clear Elmer’s glue


Blue marbles


If you don’t have marbles, you can use blue glass gems instead. Or forgo them all together.

Ocean Bottle Directions

First, grab an empty and clean bottle. Depending on the age of the children, this can be glass or plastic.

Next, pour an entire bottle of clear glue into the empty bottle. If you buy your glue in bulk, measure out 5 ounces of clear glue.

adding glue to a discovery bottle

This step is perfect to teach the children about measurement. And squeezing the glue bottle is just right for working on kids’ hand-strength.

Now it’s time for the kids to add the blue marbles or glass gems to the ocean sensory bottle. This is great for fine motor development! You can even add in some math by encouraging the children to add a specific number of marbles to the jar.

sensory jar with water and blue marbles

The next part will require a little bit of gentleness. Tilt the bottle a little. Have the kids carefully slide the shells in one at a time. This will help ensure the shells don’t break in the process. What a great way to practice patience and thoughtfulness.

Fill the rest of the jar up with water and put the top on.

close up of shell ocean bottle for kids

Related: Shark Sensory Bottle

I definitely recommend securing the top, especially if younger children will be using it. You can use tape, hot glue, or super glue to do this. This is a step you’ll want to do mostly on your own, so no little fingers get in the way.

Lastly, shake the ocean sensory bottle so everything mixes up well. Then ooh and aah as you and the kids watch the contents slowly settle.

Extend the Learning

As you can see, there are so many bits of learning involved in making an ocean sensory bottle. Below are a few more ideas in case you’re interested!

Experiment with the glue-to-water ratio by making multiple shell discovery bottles. For example, you can make one with 5 ounces of glue, one with 8 ounces of glue, and one with 10 ounces of glue.

Then have the kids time how long it takes for the shells and marbles to settle. We’ve done this with other sensory bottles, and the children were super engaged throughout the entire process.

shells, blue marbles, and water in a discovery bottle

Related: Shell Painting Ocean Art

As the children are adding the shells to the jar, engage them in a discussion of what they see and feel with each shell. Are the shells different colors? Are some smooth, with others a lot more bumpy? You can even talk about the different animals that might have lived in the shells.

Create a checklist with pictures of the shells you used in the bottle. The children can cross of the shells they find as they’re observing the jar.

Inspire some writing by pairing the bottle with vocabulary cards. Some words to include – shells, ocean, beach, sand. The kids can write about when they’ve been to the beach or they make up their own stories about imaginary beach trips.

You can also add some small ocean animals! Let the kids choose their favorites to add to the ocean sensory bottle.

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images of ocean sensory bottle with text that reads seashell sensory bottle

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