Sparkle Bottles

These were actually part of our Travel Kits, which you can find in the {Kids on the Road} Series, we took on our insanely long (and waaay too close together) road trips we took this past month.  I found the original idea at My Crazy Blessed Life, and Johanna called them “calm down bottles” and used them with the idea of helping her little girls calm down after a tantrum.  There was the added bonus of a built-in time out timer.  That wasn’t my goal with them though.  I just wanted a distraction for my poor children who were strapped down in car seats for hours and hours on end.  I don’t know if they’d work well as timers or calm down distractions for my kids.  They don’t have the attention spans to sit and actually watch all the glitter fall.  But, they are a good calm down technique for momma…. just sayin’ that when the children have the kind of day that leaves you wondering why on Earth you ever reproduced, 15 minutes sobbing in the back room watching glitter fall and then a 30 minute sewing session can help.  Just sayin’.

I wasn’t able to find the exact ingredients Johanna used so I had to improvise.  And actually found some other materials that I opted to use instead of what Johanna did.  But it still turned out great – and a little cheaper even.  So, here’s how I made my Sparkle Bottles.


– Elmer’s Glitter Glue
– Elmer’s Clear School Glue
– Fine flake glitter
– Hot water
– Clear plastic bottles
– Super Glue

– Clean any labels or sticky glue off your bottles.
– Heat the water.  It doesn’t have to boil, but it should be steaming.  You want it to be hot enough to melt the glue.
– Pour approximately a 1/4 cup of glitter glue into the bottom of the bottle.
– Add approximately 2 Tbsp of Clear School Glue to the bottle.
– Fill the bottle about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with the hot water.
– Tighten the caps back onto the bottles and shake until the glues and water are thoroughly mixed.
– Remove the cap and pour in as much glitter as desired.
– Fill the remainder of the bottle with either glue or water.  If you want the glitter to fall faster, put in more water.  For slower falling glitter, put in more glue (either glitter glue or the clear glue.  It doesn’t matter.  If you don’t want more glitter, stick to the clear glue).
– Make sure the glue and water is well mixed.
– Put super glue in the threads of the cap and tighten it down.
– Shake and enjoy!

Helpful hints:
– I bought all the materials at Wal-Mart and Target.  Target had a couple different glitter glue colors than Wal-Mart.

– The clear glue was at Wal-Mart in the art supply section with the crayons and markers.  You might find it in the back to school section this time of year too.  I used nearly a full bottle of it in my four Sparkle Bottles.

– The Elmer’s Clear School Glue was about half the price as the Aleene’s Clear Tacky Glue and I didn’t have any problems with it.  I would do that again if I make more of these.
– I tried the quantities in Johanna’s tutorial with my first bottle and that was WAAAY too much glue for the Elmer’s brands.  Our green bottle takes about 30 minutes to settle.  Yeah, thirty.  We use that as the quiet time timer for Big J when I’m trying to trick him into taking a nap…  If you use the quantities listed above you’ll get about a 5 minute timer, if you’re using the bottles to keep time.  Of course, the exact time will depend on whether you fill the last 1/4 of the bottle with glue or water.  Play with it.
– Don’t use super fine glitter.  I tried this.  All that created was a major goopy clump.  It was not pretty.  I poured it out and started over.  It was that bad.  Check out the photo for an idea of what size glitter I preferred.  Slightly larger worked out too.  I got this set of 12 bottles of glitter at Wal-Mart for about $7.

– This blue bottle is my favorite.  I call it the Starry Night bottle – it reminds me of Van Gogh’s painting by the same name, which coincidentally is also one of my favorite paintings.  I put two different colors of blue glitter in this one, silver glitter and used the blue and purple glitter glue.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match to make some cool colors.  Our orange bottle is actually red and yellow glitter glue with a bit of orange glitter.  Don’t be afraid to play with the colors!

– One of my best ideas from this project came in the form of a mini Sparkle Bottle.  The big bottles were a little too heavy for Little J to really hang on to well.  So, I made him a mini one.  He loves it and I love that it can go in the diaper bag without taking up a ton of space – or weighing 400 lbs!

Mini bottles are now available in my Etsy Shop if you’d rather leave the work to me…

This post was written by Krista and originally appeared on While He Was Napping.


    • says

      It’s actually just one of the bottles you get in a “travel pack”. They come empty and are intended for you to fill them with personal hygiene products that will pass through airport security. I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart with all the other “travel size” hygiene products, but I ordered mine from Specialty Bottle. I used a waterproof glue to secure the lid shut as well as gluing it onto the container. So far, no issues with leaking (it’s been over six months since I made them).

      You can also find the mini bottles in my Etsy Shop.

  1. says

    I just wanted to let you know that my 4 year old and i had a blast making the sparkle bottles last night. We used the small 12 oz soda bottles. The only issue we had was with the water i put it on the stove till it was steaming and it almost melted the bottle and was a little to hot to handle. When we made the second one i just turned on the tap water and let it get hot and it worked perfectly. I also added a drop of food coloring to make the color more bold. Great idea!! We loved it.

  2. says

    How big are the larger bottles you used? I love how these look! Also do you remember what the proportions for the small bottle were? I’m hoping these will help distract my toddler when tantrums threaten :)

    • says

      I don’t remember exactly on the big bottles, but they were Sparkling ICE bottles (the product photo I found on Google says 17 FL OZ). Just a heads up, they are heavy. I’ve had to take my kids’ bottles away more than once because they think shaking them up while throwing them across the room is a good idea… boys, ugh! =)

      I have no idea what the proportions were in the small bottle, sorry. I haven’t made one like that since and, at the time, I was just kind of winging it. Start with about a tsp of glue and half the bottle of water. I use hot water so the glue mixes well, but be careful because you can melt your bottles if the water is too hot. Also, glitter glue is thicker and takes longer to fall through than the clear school glue. Put the cap on and see if your fall rate is about right. My little guy has a super short attention span when sitting still is involved so I made it fall pretty fast. If it’s too fast, add more glue. Too slow, add more water. Keep in mind too that the glitter will fall a little slower when the bottle cools down.

  3. Ally says

    What kind of super glue did you use? I’m pretty pumped to do this for my littles. Wondered if super light tiny toys would work in here to do a “search and find”! Thanks for the idea!

    • Krista says

      I’ve found it kind of depends on the type of bottle. Regular old super glue seems to work well with water bottles, but you have to make sure the lid and mouth of the bottle are good and dry or it won’t seal very well.

      I’ve seen bottles with Lego figurines in them before. I haven’t tried it though… supposedly, they float to the top while the glitter sinks. I’ve thought about trying shaped buttons or beads before, but never have. I’d love to know how they turn out if you do make a search and find! Thanks for stopping and taking time to comment!

  4. Karen Costello says

    I am so excited to make this for my special needs toddler. I have tried everything and hope this helps. Thanks

    • says

      The bubbles will settle. I always squeeze them out, otherwise there will be a lot of empty space at the top of the bottle when it’s settled and you’ll create foam and more bubbles every time you shake it. I fill my bottles to the neck of the bottle with water. A little space makes they glitter mix easier, but the bubbles are hidden by the bottle cap. Good luck!

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