EduKids Early Childhood Education Centers

Ocean in a Bottle!

Posted on: July 12, 2010

Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director

I came across this very easy, but quite interesting craft many years ago.  This easy activity comes from the Kaboose Website and is a craft and science project all in one. Each time children make an Ocean in a Bottle something new happens! 

For each Ocean in a Bottle, you will need the following:

  • A clean, empty two-liter plastic bottle with a lid
  • Clear vegetable oil
  • Water
  • A funnel
  • Blue food coloring
  • Shells and sea creatures (available from craft stores; be sure to use lightweight items that float)
  • One teaspoon of glitter
  • White craft glue
  • A hot glue gun (to be used only by adults).


  1. Fill each bottle halfway with water  
  2. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and swirl around to mix
  3. Then add glitter and sea creatures/shells
  4. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with vegetable oil using a funnel 
  5. Make sure that the cap and rim are dry and then apply white glue around the rim and seal the cap
  6. Use a layer of hot glue around the outside edge of the cap for additional protection from leaking

Turn the bottle on its side to create a wave in this ocean habitat!

Some helpful hints…

  • Baby oil can be substituted for vegetable oil.
  • Create more than one bottle with a variety of floating – or sinking – items (let children collect shells and stones from natural sources for their Ocean in a Bottle.)
  • Set up an ocean display of posters, books, children’s paintings, and stories around this project.
  • Make different varieties of an Ocean in a Bottle for gifts.  Children love to give their “creations”!
  • Always allow your child’s personal touch on any of her/his creations – maybe their Ocean is red!

Young children (with much adult help) can enjoy this project just as much as older children!  Young children love to play in the water – they will fill and dump the plastic bottles over and over again….  They will touch and move the sand and shells around.  They will throw the funnel and try to figure out what it is—-great!  Let them do it all because they will also be watching you, listening to you and learning from you!  What a wonderful way to see skills of sequencing, following directions, manipulating, sorting and creating. 

Older children can work alongside you in this summer project.  What a great way to discover information about the ocean environment.  Build up to this project through songs, stories, pictures and visits to the naval park, waterfront, aquarium, science museum and art gallery.  Use the library and computer – these tools are teeming with information about the ocean, water environments, aquatic life and land.

The best part is when the “Ocean in a Bottle” is finished; they can hold, carry, shake, sing about and learn to appreciate this wonderful natural environment model.  It is great fun!

Ships Ahoy!


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