Ocean and Waves Discovery Bottle

Create an exciting ocean themed discovery bottle which creates waves and bubbles when tipped from side to side! Lots of crafty, scientific, sensory fun for beach themed summer play-time for kids and great entertainment for long car journeys too!Ocean Discovery Bottle


We have been making some new discovery bottles recently after drinking lots of juice from some enormous plastic bottles which lend themselves to these sorts of activities! We have an under the sea summer theme coming up so we started off by making an ocean bottle with waves and bubbles to look at!How to make an ocean discovery bottle

First they poured in a bottle of baby oil (approx 200ml) and then dropped a lovely variety of shells and pebbles through the neck of the bottle. We stirred a very small amount of blue gel food colouring into some water (we use these Wilton Icing Gel Colours 
for all play recipes), stirred it through to make sure it was very light blue, and added a little more to dilute it until it was just right. Then they tipped it on top of the oil and watched what happened to the two liquids when they met each other!

[NB: The lid should be sealed securely shut with strong glue or a glue gun.]Making waves in an ocean bottle

They noticed straight away that they didn’t mix together and could see the clear oil sitting on top of the blue water below. We talked about why that happened then tried tipping the bottle from side to side to  make some waves and large bubbles. When air is trapped in the oil it creates bubbles which last for longer than those in water, and it is fun to watch them moving slowly until they pop.

Ocean in a bottle

The little sea creatures and sea shells were fun for looking at closely and using as prompts to create stories for imaginative play together.

This bottle, along with some others we have created, will be great additions on our very long car journeys coming up this summer as we travel! Nicely self-contained, but still wonderfully engaging and a great sensory, scientific and imaginative play tool.

What they are learning as they play:

science: understanding that oil and water do not mix, looking at bubbles form and pop, understanding how air can be trapped in liquids, talking about the shape and nature of waves, naming and describing sea creatures and shells, talking about habitats

sensory: visual stimulus, exploring water and oil, watching colours mix and separate

creativity: inventing stories using toys and props from imagination

Cakie: 4.10

Pop: 3. 3

Bean: 16 mos

See our Baby Discovery Bottles here!

Browse our other seaside crafts and activities here.


  1. says

    Jack and Sarah both loved these. So mesmerising. We still have a few about with different bibs and bobs in them. Jack’s favourite one has green water/oil and glitter and sequins. He uses it when he is feeling a little overwhelmed and upset.

  2. Julie says

    Could you tell me the brand of the little sea creatures you have in there, or where you bought them? I can’t seem to find ones that are small enough to fit through the bottle opening!


  1. […] The Imagination Tree – I confess. I am ever so slightly addicted to this site. It’s wonderful. With great craft, play, activities and toy ideas that you can make at home from every day products you will never get bored. They’re not crazy difficult to do either – it’s realistic for non-crafty mums like me, too. Sensory baskets, discovery boxes,  home made play dough and edible paint. I enjoyed the Ocean Discovery Bottle. […]