#PEMfromhome \\ Drop-In Art Activities

Sensory ocean bottles

May 22 is National Maritime Day! To celebrate this and our exhibition In American Waters, which opens May 29 and explores America’s relationship with the sea, we invite you to create your own sensory ocean bottle. Did you know that PEM was founded by ship captains? Many of the objects in our collection today were carried across the ocean before going on display in our galleries. Enjoy the sea from home and fill your ocean bottle with tiny treasures. Watch them swirl and float across your own tiny sea.

  • Bottle or jar with watertight lid
  • Funnel
  • Small amount of sand or glitter
  • Water
  • Baby oil or cooking oil
  • Food coloring
  • Hot glue or super glue
  • Beads, small plastic critters or other decorative objects (optional)


Step 1: Partially fill your bottle with water, ½ to ⅔ full works best. Then add a drop or two of food coloring.

Step 2: Pour your sand or glitter into the bottle with the funnel. If you have other decorations like seashells, beads or tiny animals, add them now.

Step 3: Finish filling the bottle with baby oil then close the cap tightly. If you need to, use glue to keep the lid sealed and to avoid unwanted spills.

Step 4: Move the bottle in different motions to simulate waves. You can shake, rock and roll the bottle however you like and watch the contents float and swirl around.

Explore more of our #PEMfromHome Drop-in Art Activity video tutorials on our youtube channel.

Show Us!

Share your Ocean Bottle photos with us using #peabodyessex or #pempod.