Arboretum News

Kids Activity: Winter in a Bottle

Bottle up the magic of falling snow with an old bottle, some glitter, water and soap.

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The magic of a snowstorm all bottled up. Photo by Reba Luiken.

By Reba Luiken, Arboretum coordinator of informal interpretation

Winter is off to a slow start in Minnesota, but this project will help to capture a bit of the wonder of playing with snow and bring it inside. 

These sensory bottles can also be used as informal timers to help kids calm down. Have kids sit until the glitter settles, and they’ll settle too!

Updated on Jan. 4, 2021: In the spirit of encouraging nature play with things we have at home, I’ve used glitter that I already had in my craft bin at home that I don’t have another use for.  Unfortunately, glitter is made up of tiny pieces of plastic that don’t break down in the environment, so buying more contributes to additional pollution. 

If you don’t have glitter on hand already, experiment with other things you might have at home. My co-worker’s family has used small pom-poms, crayon shavings (grown-ups can make these using a vegetable peeler) and colored pencil shavings.

Clear bottle or jar (plastic or glass can work)
Blue food coloring (optional)
Glycerin, soap, or clear glue (optional)
Super glue (optional) 


1. Make sure your bottle is completely clean and add your glitter. You can always add more later if you’d like.

2. Add in glycerin, soap or clear glue (glitter glue or Elmer’s clear glue will work) to fill the bottle about 1/2 of the way. This step is optional, but it will make your glitter fall more slowly and your snow storm last longer. 

3. Fill your bottle the rest of the way with water. For now, leave some space at the top so you can add more of something if you need to. 

4. Put on the cap or lid and try out your snow storm!

5. Make adjustments. Add more glitter or more soap if you would like. Add food coloring if you want some color!

6. Fill your bottle up completely with water. The bottle will work best with as little air as possible. If you added soap (like I did) you can add additional water so that the soap bubbles run over the top of the bottle. 

7. Use super glue to seal the lid on. This is optional! You won’t be able to re-use the bottle, but it will keep little hands from taking the lid off and making a mess. 

8. Play!

1 comment on “Kids Activity: Winter in a Bottle

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