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June 17, 2015

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.

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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! 

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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
Every Star Is Different
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.
Every Star Is Different
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.
Unknown said…
Genius Idea!!!! I'm totally doing this :)
Unknown said…
Wow! This is such a neat idea! I can tell they had so much fun! :D
Unknown 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!
Erin @TheMiniSkirt
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
Bess Wuertz said…
Oh my goodness, those bottles are amazing! Well done.
Jennifer 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!
Unknown said…
Wow! This is so creative! My kids will love these. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Jae M
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
Natalie B said…
Where did you source such great bottles?
Наталия Ошуева
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Mama's Happy Hive
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!
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Laura Locklear
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!
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Bridget Henry
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.