Skip to main content

Zoology Sensory Bottles for Montessori Babies

As Nora gets older, I am constantly looking for new ways to help her explore the world around her and enjoy new sensory experiences. Nora loves animals, so I especially love finding ways to incorporate her interests into something concrete for her to explore. To combine sensory and zoology, I created these mini-sensory bottles! 

These small bottles contain natural elements -- grasses, sand, rocks, and dirt -- that might otherwise end up in Nora's mouth. While I'm fine with a little dirt-eating, these bottles allow for a different type of exploration. The bottles are designed to represent the ecosystem/home of the animal -- hippo, lion, elephant and pig -- contained inside the bottle.

This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

When used, the bottles make unique sounds and patterns. The animals {found here} and their habitats all move and feel different. 

For babies, this exploration of the environments is probably enough to engage them for a long time. I know that Nora was very interested in exploring, mouthing, shaking and staring at each little bottle. However, one thing I love about this idea is how easily it can be transitioned from baby work, to engaging toddler and preschool work. 

To do this, I added larger Schleich animals to match the animals in the bottles. For toddlers this becomes an object-to-object matching work. They can explore the bottle, find the small animal and match it to the larger animal. 

I did give Nora the larger animals for these pictures, but she is not ready for this type of complex matching work. She just enjoys exploring both the bottles and the animals without any pressure to match. In fact, the animals are some of her favorite Montessori-friendly toys. I almost died from the cute when she snuggled that elephant. 

Preschoolers, like Henry, are ready for more. They are ready to learn about the actual environments and habitats of the animals. So, I made cards identifying the names of each habitat the animals live in -- farm, grassland, savannah, and river. 

Henry and I talked about the habitats and I named them. Then, we matched the larger animals to their smaller counterparts. Finally, we matched the words to their proper environment.

Henry has loved this work as much as Nora. He has studied the smaller jars, the larger animals and matched the words. While Henry isn't reading yet, he is able to remember the names of each environment and match them based on their beginning letter sound. I hope these open up a larger conversation for us about animals and their habitats. And, I hope they inspire you to do the same! 

This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning series. This month's Montessori and Montessori-inspired posts are all about zoology! Visit these amazing blogs for more great zoology ideas!

12 Months of Montessori Learning! 


Audrey said…
Awesome - I nearly died from the cute too! Such a great idea - as always, I am adding this to the list of things to try out myself xox
What a fantastic and fun way to learn about habitats for so many ages. I love the sensory bottles. I think my favorite is the farm themed one. You can tell so clearly from the pictures that your kiddos really enjoyed this activity and variations.
What a fantastic and fun way to learn about habitats for so many ages. I love the sensory bottles. I think my favorite is the farm themed one. You can tell so clearly from the pictures that your kiddos really enjoyed this activity and variations.
Kimberly Huff said…
Genius Idea!!!! I'm totally doing this :)
BlogTanya WS said…
Wow! This is such a neat idea! I can tell they had so much fun! :D
Cristina Tébar said…
These bottles are so cute! And I love the fact that they can engage both babies and preschoolers; sometimes it's hard to come up with activities they can share!
This is such a smart, cute, and easy idea. I love it! Thank you for sharing. :)
The Mini Skirt
Elaine said…
I absolutely adore this, what a creative idea you have come up with! And I'll bet that when Nora gets older, she'll remember the colors and sounds of each habitat bottle and be able to remember the "feel" of the habitats. I can totally see my 3 year old asking questions like "Why is there corn in with the pigs?" -- these sensory bottles are also great learning prompts to dive deeper!! Oh wow, I'm really digging your post!
Bess Wuertz said…
Oh my goodness, those bottles are amazing! Well done.
Jennifer Tammy said…
You come up with the BEST baby exploration ideas! Where did you get those bottles? I honestly will be making these with my kids ASAP!
Marie Mack said…
Wow! This is so creative! My kids will love these. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Jae M said…
Must try this! The boys will totally love this. And oooh! I love your bottles! Must get those as well :D Thanks for sharing!
Natalie B said…
Where did you source such great bottles?
We invite you to a monthly
Kids Link Party. Детскую галерею! We are looking forward to your participation.
I LOVE this post so much! I appreciate how you incorporate lots of sensory learning with Montessori concepts. I also want to know where you found such cute bottles. :) I know Little Bee would love this type of exploration. Fun!
Andrew 1 said…
A silver plaque makes an exceptional blessing that will dependably be treasured. You can likewise pick between a first photograph collection and a silver photograph outline. Kattey
Laura Locklear said…
These would be great to teach content to special needs kids. Guess I'm going to be making some for my class!
Amy said…
Are the bottles sold on Amazon? Great idea!
marta larkin said…
Experienced tasters apply distinctive criteria to judging a decent container of wine than amateurs, taking into account the state wine ought to be in at that specific time. Tenderfoots judge the taste right then and there.
Bridget Henry said…
Love these so much! just ordered the little animals. Did you use real grass inside? or fake?
Love your blog, its so inspiring for my little one
Thanks for sharing :)
Anonymous said…
Agree with everyone-great idea, the bottles make it beautiful. I found similar ones under "round plastic craft bottles" has some that look similar.

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2017

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2017 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 

So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 

First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Becoming a Montessori family has been life changing in so many ways, most obviously with the amount and type of materials we use in our home. Once you see why having so many toys is a problem, or when you make the decision to move towards Montessori, it can be completely overwhelming. But, taking a Montessori approach to purging your toys is possible! And, it doesn't exactly mean that you have to throw away everything you have and start over with only expensive wooden toys. It will mean taking a hard look at what you have and whether it really fits with Montessori.

One note, however, Montessori is at its core about following your child's own path and respecting your child as a whole person. So, if your child has a toy, lovey, book, or whatever that your child super loves or is super attached to, but it doesn't fit Montessori ideals, don't take it away. Follow your child, that is more Montessori than whether or not you own some specific consumer product. 
How to Purge You…