Make Lightning in a Bottle: A Percy Jackson Craft for Kids


This article is sponsored by Disney Book Group.  All opinions expressed are my own.

I am super excited about today’s easy craft for kids (of all ages), let’s make lightning in a bottle!  This activity is inspired by the Rick Riordan series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians which has been on the bestseller list for over 500 weeks!

Lightning in a Bottle - Percy Jackson Craft

Reluctant Reader to Book Lover?

At the beginning of the summer, I plotted to entice my reluctant reader (13 years old) to love reading.  We set a plan for him to read daily and incentivize his progress through the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of 5 books.  It was a little daunting.  The books are not small!  And my son doesn’t like to read, but his progress was amazing.  He read through the books quickly and finished book #5 a month ahead of our “schedule”.

Oh, and remember that “incentive” I was giving him?

After finishing the last book, he came to me and said that I should only pay him half of the agreed amount.

Me:  Half?  You did the work!  In fact, you finished much more quickly than I expected.

Rhett:  Yes, you should only pay me half because it wasn’t bad.

“It wasn’t bad” is HIGH PRAISE!  And it was paired with a broad smile that signaled his approval.

From reluctant reader to Percy Jackson fan.

Isn’t it great when mom is right?

Lightning in a Bottle Craft

Inspired by The Lightning Thief, I thought it would be fun to create a “calming jar”.  It reminds me of the lava lamps of the 1970s…you can’t look away because they are mesmerizing!

This lightning in a bottle is something so simple to make that it can be a quick activity or something to keep on a desk or bedside to quiet the mind.

Supplies Needed to Make Lightning in a Bottle

Here are the things you will need to make this craft:

  • Empty clear water (or soda) bottle
  • Black or dark blue food coloring
  • 1 Straw
  • Iridescent cellophane
  • (optional) gold cellophane
  • String or a rubber band
  • (optional) Super Glue

How to Make Lightning in a Bottle

Step 1: Remove the label from the water (or soda) bottle.  I found that the bottles that were shrink-wrapped with the label were easier to use for this craft than the ones that had the labels affixed with glue.  Either will work.

Lightning in a bottle step 2

Step 2: Cut a small piece off of the straw that is smaller than the diameter of the bottle.  Cut a piece of string long enough that you could tie it securely around the small piece of straw.

Lightning in a Bottle Step 3

Step 3: Fill the water bottle with water and add blue/black food coloring until you achieve a “night sky” hue.  I used a black gel coloring with sparkles and loved the way it looked when it was done.  Use what you have on hand.

Lightning in a Bottle Step 4

Step 4: Cut a 3-4″ strip from the iridescent cellophane.  If you are also using the gold cellophane as well, then layer them and cut together as shown.  The cellophane material that works well is sold in wrapping paper aisles for the purpose of wrapping baskets.

Lightning in a Bottle Step 5

Step 5: Fold the strip of cellophane in half long-wise.  Slip the cut straw in the folded end and then fold over the ends to cover the open straw ends and then roll to “seal”.  The goal is to create an air pocket at the end of the cellophane strip that will float in water.

Lightning in a Bottle Step 6

Step 6: Using scissors, cut a slit at the junction of the cellophane strip and rolled/sealed straw that goes just 1/3rd across the cellophane strip.  Then secure the rolled material over the straw with a tied string piece or a rubber band.

Lightning in a Bottle step 7

Step 7: Cut the cellophane strip into a “lightning” shape.  It can be a little longer in length than the water bottle you are using.

Lightning in a Bottle Step 8

Step 8: Take the lightning bolt you just cut out with the rolled straw at the end and feed it into the water bottle pushing the non-rolled end in first.  I used a small skewer stick to get the cellophane end down to the bottom of the bottle.

Step 9:  Secure the top (eventually you may want to super glue the top on the bottle if you are going to play with it).

Lightning in a Bottle Step 9b


Because the straw end will float, you can turn the lightning bottle upside down and then right side up again – each time the lightning bolt will re-adjust, flutter and sparkle in the bottle sky.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t photograph as awesome as it looks in real life!

It really is pretty.

Lightning in a Bottle

Read Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I am so thankful that we tried this summer experiment.  It was fun for me to see Rhett reading around the house, while we were on vacation, stepping AWAY from video games {gasp} and enjoying adventures with Percy Jackson. <–if you haven’t grabbed our Percy Jackson scavenger hunt, do it!

Reading Percy Jackson book 5


Our Percy Jackson Summer Reading Challenge was a complete success!  Not only did Rhett finish the 5 book series, he realized that reading can be fun.  I can’t wait to see what he reads next…

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