Ocean in a Bottle

Create Your own Ocean Habitat

By Anna Hall, Hickory, NC Publisher Mom August 1, 2013
Can't take the kids to the ocean? Bring the ocean to them with this fun and easy craft. It also doubles as a science experiment and small children especially will be mesmerized by the resulting creation. You may want to work with a smaller bottle for younger kids so it is easier to handle once complete.

Materials needed:
  • clear plastic 2-liter soda bottle with cap
  • water
  • blue food coloring
  • liquid soap
  • sand
  • 3-5 small balloons
  • optional: glitter
  • optional: shells, pearl beads and other sea-themed embellishments
  • optional: clear vegetable oil or mineral oil and funnel
  • optional: hot glue gun or white craft glue

What to do:
  1. Empty and rinse soda bottle and remove the label.
  2. Fill bottle half-way with tap water. Add 1-2 drops of blue food coloring to create desired ocean water color and a small drop of liquid soap or dish detergent.
  3. Pour in sand to cover the bottom of the bottle when laid on its side. Add small amount of glitter and desired embellishments, if using.
  4. Blow up the balloons and release most of the air before tying off the ends. These "fish" will float along the top of the water and bob/swim around when the bottle is shaken. We experimented with filling some of the balloons partially with water to have them sink more (notice the red fish in the picture above). Push the balloon fish into the bottle.
  5. Optional: many similar crafts I came across top the bottle off with mineral oil or clear vegetable oil using a funnel. The oil helps create pretty wave patterns within the bottled ocean when shaken. I don't know how that works with the balloon fish though!
  6. Screw the top on tightly. You may choose to place a layer of glue on the threads before closing the bottle to seal the cap.
  7. Hold the bottle on its side and rock side to side gently to create waves within your ocean habitat.