These sensory bottles for preschool are perfect as part of a butterfly theme, or when learning about the life cycle of a butterfly.
Do you have a preschool (or kindergarten!) theme that you just love teaching in the spring?
One of my favorites is definitely all about butterflies. I was sitting here, trying to think about why that is. I mean, I like butterflies as much as the next person. They’re beautiful and just plain fascinating. But that’s not the reason.
You know what is? The kids! Their wild enthusiasm about caterpillars and butterflies is contagious. I find myself getting just as excited as the children. And excitement and curiosity lead to some great questions . . . and has such a positive impact on learning.
In addition to reading lots of caterpillar and butterfly books, we love watching the butterfly life cycle first hand when possible. On top of that, I like to plan a variety of other hands-on butterfly activities that let the kids explore concepts they’re learning.
These butterfly life cycle sensory bottles for preschool kids would be one such activity you might want to try.
Related: Butterfly Life Cycle Emergent Reader
Butterfly Sensory Bottles for Preschool and Kindergarten
You could definitely make your butterfly sensory bottles a bit differently than this. Or make them exactly the same as we did. Either way, something tells me your students will have a blast.
Materials we used
Directions to make the butterfly life cycle bottles
These sensory jars were pretty simple to make. In fact, I think it’s going to take longer for me to write up all of the directions than it did to put the bottles together!
Dyeing the pasta
First up, decide if you want to dye your pasta or not. We decided to leave the small pasta shells as is, but we went the colorful route for the rest of the pasta.
A few years ago, we made a butterfly life cycle sensory bin with colorful pasta. Since I like to reuse materials as much as possible, I kept that bin in sealed bags between uses. So we used some of the pasta from that bin. It was pointed out to me that we didn’t have “all the colors of the rainbow!” so we did end up dyeing some new pasta too.
Related: Super Easy Rainbow Sensory Bin
I prefer using liquid watercolors to dye most sensory materials, but you could use food coloring too. We put some pasta in a small baggie, added some squirts of liquid watercolor, and shook up the bag (after sealing the bag – that’s an important step).
Then everything got placed out on trays to dry. I’d suggest placing the wet, dyed pasta on wax paper to dry. If you use paper towels, just make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the paper towels (I may or may not know this from personal experience).
Just a quick note – every little nook and cranny of the pasta might not get covered by color. I don’t think that’s a big deal, and the children enjoy the process of dyeing the pasta more than a perfect result. However, if this is a problem for you, have the kids grab some paint brushes and let them add a little bit of color to the blank spots.
Get the bottles ready
While the pasta is drying, make sure your bottles or jars are clean and dry. Also, make sure your bottles have openings wide enough for the bowtie pasta (or grab mini bowtie pasta).
It was pretty easy to remove the labels from our Voss water bottles, but there was a little bit of sticky residue. Rubbing a drop or two of lemon essential oil on it dealt with that quickly. Then we washed the bottles with soap and warm water.
Make sure the bottles are fully dry before adding anything to them. Any moisture might make the colors run, and water will definitely spoil the pasta.
Related: Butterfly Life Cycle Necklace
Assembling the butterfly sensory bottles for preschool
Now it’s time to put everything together! We decided to have one bottle for each stage of the butterfly life cycle. The tiny shells are the butterfly eggs, the rotini represents caterpillars, the regular shells are chrysalises, and the bowtie pasta represents butterflies.
If you have all of the pieces together in one bin, have the kids sort them! Either way, have the children add the pieces into the appropriate bottles.
If desired, add a label to each of the butterfly bottles. You can grab a free printable version of the labels we used at the bottom of this post.
Depending on the age group of your students, you might want to seal the tops of the bottles with a hot glue gun. We didn’t bother, but I definitely would for babies or young kids who still put things into their mouths.
Related: Butterfly Name Activities
How to use the sensory bottles for preschool
There are a few different ways to use the sensory jars. You and your students will likely come up with even more ideas than I have listed below:
- Place the butterfly sensory jars out for free exploration. The kids can move them and observe them during center time.
- Let the kids pour the bottles out into a big sensory bin. They can scoop, pour, and play with the pieces like that. Then they can work on their fine motor and sorting skills by returning the pieces into the appropriate bottles.
- Add some alphabet beads to the bottles. Then have the kids be “letter detectives” and find certain letters in each jar. Extend that by having them write down the letters they locate.
- Pair the sensory bottles with number cards. Kids can pull the right amount of pasta pieces out of the bottles to match each card and practice one-to-one correspondence.
- Have the kids keep a tally of how many butterflies (or caterpillars, etc.) of different colors they find in each bottle.
Preschool Butterfly Lesson Plans
Pop over to Preschool Teacher 101 to check out our done-for-you butterfly lesson plans. It’s a week’s worth of printable lesson plans, already-planned activities (for whole group, small group, and centers), book suggestions, and coordinating printables.
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers
Label Your Butterfly Sensory Bottles for Preschool
I made small labels for our butterfly sensory bottles. They worked well with the Voss water bottles that we used. I ran them through the laminator before taping them to the outside of the discovery bottles.
The free printable version of these labels are available to members of Fun-A-Day’s free email community. Click the button below if you’d like to have them sent to your email. If you’re not a member of my email group, you’ll be signing up for even more early childhood education resources.
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