Learn how to make a turkey sensory bottle with the kids this Thanksgiving. Fun to make, and great to have on-hand when a calming moment is needed during the holidays.
Glitter sensory jars are always a hit around here . . . whether it’s at home or in the classroom.
And that’s just with the adults. (I’m not even kidding. Have you tried one when you’re having a stressful day? If not, I highly suggest it.)
The kids, be they preschoolers or older children, respond well to them too, of course!
Here’s How to Make a Turkey Sensory Bottle for Thanksgiving
Our pumpkin glitter jars were the inspiration for these little turkeys!
These sensory jars could be made in the classroom or at home with the kids.
I do suggest making them one-on-one with the children if possible. This way, you can assist with the process depending on each individual child’s needs. Plus, there’s glitter involved.
Turkey sensory bottle materials
We used some small round plastic bottles from Hobby Lobby, but these apple juice jars are comparable. The apple juice jars are glass, though, so I’d suggest only using them with older preschoolers or above.
You can really use almost any shape you’d like for these calm down jars. Just make sure the bottle is empty and clean before getting started.
We also used a few different glitters inside the “belly” of the turkeys. I’ve got a large stash of glitter, so the kids just dug around until they found brown and dark orange glitters they liked. The exact ones we ended up using:
And we also used the “secret ingredient” of many of our sensory jars – light corn syrup. I usually just grab whichever brand is on sale at our local grocery store, but sometimes having a big jar on-hand is helpful.
The point of the corn syrup is to slow down the glitter so it doesn’t settle too fast. If you’d rather not use corn syrup, you could always use glitter glue, clear glue, glycerin, or clear liquid soap. Those all slow the glitter down to varying degrees.
Related: Turkey Tracks Turkey Art
Directions for your own turkey sensory bottle
First, combine corn syrup with some hot water. The amount of each will depend on the size of the bottle you’re using, but the general ratio I like is two parts corn syrup and one part hot water.
For the little round jars we used for our turkeys, we used about 1/2 cup of corn syrup and 1/4 cup of hot water.
Mix the corn syrup and hot water together in a glass measuring cup. It’ll look cloudy at first. Have the kids keep mixing until it doesn’t look cloudy anymore; about 30 seconds.
Pour the liquid mixture into the sensory bottle. Be sure to leave some room at the top.
Now it’s time to add the glitter. Let the children add the glitter they chose. We all ended up adding a mix of glitters to our turkey sensory bottles. If needed, use a small funnel to help ensure all of the glitter gets into the bottle.
Once the glitter is all in, close the top well. Have the kids shake up their bottles to make sure everything is mixed together. If need be, add some more glitter!
I’d suggest gluing the top to the bottle once you’re all done. You could use a hot glue gun or other fast-acting glue.
Turn the sensory bottle into a turkey
Once the bottles were ready, it was time to turn them into turkeys! We cut circles out of brown foam for the heads. Glued some googly eyes onto the circles next.
We used orange pipe cleaners for the beaks and the feet, but craft foam would work for those as well!
The faces were hot glued to the caps of the sensory bottles, and the feet were hot glued to the bottom.
Then we added feathers. Depending on the material of your sensory bottles, you could tape or hot glue the feathers. Not all plastic bottles do well with hot glue, so keep that in mind!
Related: Thanksgiving Math with Foam Turkeys
The Benefits of Sensory Bottles
Yes, sensory bottles are just plain fun to make and use. That is reason enough to make them, in my opinion.
But on top of that, they can really help kids as they’re learning to regulate their emotions and behaviors. Shaking up a glitter jar can work out some physical aggression in a non-aggressive way.
Watching as the glitter settles back to the bottom (or top) of the jar can be a very soothing experience. It gives kids a moment to just be. To have a break and calm down, focusing their energy and attention on something else.
I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned that glitter jars can benefit adults too. Many a teacher has sat in my classroom before or after school to take a breather with some calm down jars!
Imagine having a turkey sensory bottle (or two! or three!) out during the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations. They’d be fun centerpieces for the kids’ table, as well as something calming to play with while waiting for dinner.
Learning with sensory bottles
In addition to the calming effects of sensory jars, they’re also learning tools. Children explore math as they’re measuring and pouring the ingredients.
You could also integrate a timer with the jars so kids can see how long it takes for the glitter to settle. We’ve done that a few times in the past, and it’s always a fun learning experience.
With these turkeys, children can work on color identification and rainbow order as they add feathers to the jars. Counting, as well.
Language development comes into play as you walk the kids through the process, giving them simple directions along the way. Ask questions, too! “What do you think will happen to the glitter?” “What would happen if we added more corn syrup and less water?” Encourage them to make up stories about their turkeys, too.
Turkey Math for Preschoolers
Kids love roll and color math games! This turkey one is perfect for November (although, honestly, the kids would love it at any point in the year).
The set includes:
- 8 Game Cube Variations
- 13 Game Mats with Individual Instructions
Different game mats focus on the following skills:
- Color Matching
- Shape Matching
- Matching Sets to Numbers (0-5)
- Sets Matching to Numbers (5-10)
- Matching Numbers (0-5)
- Number Matching (6-10)
- One More (0-5)
- One More (5-10)
- One Less (5-10)
- Addition Facts (0-5)
- Doubles Facts (0-5)
- Number Words (0-5)
- Number Words (6-10)
More Sensory Jars the Kids Will Love
Click on the photos below for even more glitter calm down bottles!