Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homemade I Spy Bottles & Tutorial

Our I Spy sensory tubs are a huge hit with James and they keep him happily occupied for quite a while, so I wanted to find a way to bring a smaller version of them on our recent trip to NYC.

I've seen I Spy bottles all over the blogworld, so I decided to make a few. James LOVED them and while we were in the airport he would exclaim things like, "I spy an apple! I spy a lion!", which made all the older ladies in the area smile and chuckle. :) One mom actually stopped to ask where I purchased it and was excited when she realized she could make her own!

Once I got started making these, I found I had a hard time stopping! I made this months of the year/holiday themed bottle and created a bingo card to go along with it.

When James finds the object he's looking for, he places a marker on the card.

Here's an ABC bottle. This one is a lot of fun because James has to find the letters in alphabetical order. I made a check list for him to tick off as he found each letter. I laminated this so he can reuse it.

Want to make your own? Here's how:
Find a bottle:
A quick idea is an empty water bottle. Personally, I always prefer glass over plastic (I just think it feels nicer), so I went on a hunt through the grocery store to find a lightweight, cylindrical bottle. Since I wanted this to be easy to travel with, I didn't want anything too long or wide (keep in mind the tiny hands that are playing with this) and I found spice and condiment jars to be the perfect thing. (Incidentally, the food items didn't go to waste, I simply transferred them to another container.)

Think of a theme:
~animal theme~
The ideas for an I Spy bottle are endless! You could do just a hodgepodge of various trinkets like the first one I created, or you could focus on a theme - animals, colors, books, shapes, numbers, holidays. Chasing Cheerios made this super cute Halloween bottle. Seasonal bottles could be fun, too - you could fill a bottle with sand and shells for summer, or perhaps some brown rice with different colored flowers and bugs to simulate a spring garden.

Find the objects:
Anything hard and small will work - beads, marbles, buttons. Keep in mind, the smaller the bottle, the smaller (and fewer) your objects need to be and vice-versa. The buttons in the above photos work really well in these bottles and can be found here or at most craft or scrapbooking stores and come in a wide variety of themes. You could print tiny photos (a family members bottle would be neat!) or use stickers (stuck back to back) and then laminate them so they're a bit more firm. Things like pom-poms and other fabric items aren't ideal as they do not move fluidly and tend to clog up the bottle.

Find a filler:
I found rice to be the best medium because it's lightweight, it moves easily around your objects and it doesn't stick to them, either. Small pasta or colored salt or sand could work, too. This is a great way to repurpose anything you've used in the past - for example, the rainbow rice in the photo below is from our rainbow theme last year!

Put it all together:
I've tried this a few ways and I found what worked best was to alternate adding objects and the filler, a little at a time. Fill the bottle until your container is about 2/3 full (you want to leave room for everything to move around). Finally, use a hot glue gun to seal the cap to the bottle. Note: if you want to make a bingo card, be sure to take photos of the objects before you put them in your bottle.

PS: these would make GREAT birthday gifts or party favors!
~ocean theme~

~Thank you for your comments!~

47 comments:

miamihoney said...

Cool! I can't wait to make a few for my son. I think he will really enjoy looking for things. Thanks!

Lindsay said...

These are beautiful!! I love the idea of using them as party favors!! Hmm wonder if I can collect enough containers in time for Sammy's birthday in April :-)

Sarah said...

Love this idea! We play "I spy" with our daughter in the car and she loves it. We're flying to see family over the summer and I want to make a couple of these for the flight. I guess there shouldn't be any trouble getting them through security? I plan on putting together a whole little backpack of activities for her (bookmarked your activity kits post for this!).

Sara said...

These are GREAT! My mom made us one of those little "pillows" with the window and I Spy objects. I think it's gotten old for him...this will be so fun to make! Thank you for sharing.

laurensmommy said...

Thanks for sharing these! I love the glass bottles!

I used to make these for my prek kids when I taught (before Lauren was born). :) I agree, you can kind of get "addicted" to making them!

I remember doing an ocean bottle and used really lightweight, white sand- just to change it up. I think rice and birdseed work the best, though!

Also, you can do bottles with water and oil (add glitter or confetti). This is one of my faves.

Here is a good site to use for ideas....just click on "bottles to make" on the left hand side!

http://www.drjean.org/html/monthly_act/act_2006/02_Feb/index.html

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you all for your comments!

Sarah: I had no trouble going through security with these and we traveled internationally, too. :)

Lauren's Mommy: I love the idea of the oil/water bottle - I made one for James last year, but it didn't turn out. I may just try it again - thanks for the reminder!

Ewa said...

These bottles are so beautiful. You really inspired me to do a few. Thank you for your all refreshing and creative ideas. Hugs. Ewa

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Where do you get all your trinkets from? The folks on TP FB want to know!

Sippy Cup Central Mom said...

Very clever! Karen

kewkew said...

I've seen the idea of making an I Spy bottle before and I love the idea. I really love the Bingo card idea to extend this activity.

Vanessa said...

I want to be your kid. LOL Those are very neat. I think soon enough I'm going to have to suck it up and take the two little ones with me to the craft store.

Corrie said...

What a great idea. We are going on a long trip soon, so these will be a great distraction.

Corrie said...

If you use oil, water, or some other liquid try sealing it with caulk.

Emy said...

Oh I just love this idea! And I can't wait to make a few of my own and I just realized, looking at your photos, that baby food jars would probably work well for this aswell and having a little one who's still not " eating properly" I have quite a few empty jars that I could use for this!

Oh, I just wanna get a go at this right away but I gotta get a grip of myself since todays to do list is a mile long... ;-)

Thank you for sharing, your jars are adorable!

/Emy

Förskoleburken said...

Mari-Ann!
I don't know how you do it. You always make the project so beatiful, and even more important, you make me want to do it! It seems easy and fun, no matter what it is. I've seen lots of I spy-bottles, but this time I will do it, definately! Thanks a million!

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

Matthew has always loved I Spy sensory bins too - I've never tried an I Spy jar because he really enjoys running his fingers through the "stuff" to find the hidden objects. However, we are going on a long car trip soon, and I've decided to make a couple of the I Spy bottles for him - I just finished making the rice and have been wondering how to go about doing the rest, so this is a very timely post for me. You do an excellent job of explaining (as always), and I love your jars. Mine will be nowhere near as photogenic as yours. :) Seriously, I bet you could sell these babies, no problem, Mari-Ann! Thanks for the great post!

Big mamma frog said...

Oooo that is such a cool but simple idea I can't believe I didn't think of it! I've seen the ones you can buy in novelty shops for Christmas presents but it had never occurred to me to make one myself.

Hmmm...I know what I'll be doing with the kids tomorrow.

julie said...

Fun! I don't do glass anymore, because as careful as I was, Will managed to break a glass bottle at her bare feet once a couple of years ago with one of these activities, but I find that peanut butter jars also work really, really well.

Niki said...

I remember having a toy like this as a child and spending hours hunting for objects. What a fun (and inexpensive) way to keep a kid occupied. :) Thanks!

Christa said...

This is a great idea! I'm going try to make one for my tot. And I like the idea of small bottles. It seems less overwhelming to fill.

Love and Lollipops said...

I have made some of these!! I think I like them more than the kiddos do :)!! Yours came out great!!

Natym said...

What a wondeful idea! I love it. I'll try to do some.

Thank you very much! :)

Steph @ Crafting in the Rain said...

What a great idea! My friend made me some little bags a while ago, but the bottles are fun too!

Laura Odom said...

Love these! You always have the best ideas!

Dawn said...

I just love your ideas. I can not wait to make one or more.
Blessings,
Dawn

sbswtp said...

So excited to get started and make my own.... I of course will link back to you when I show them on my blog....:-)Thank you so much for sharing all your great activities!!!

Katherine said...

Great idea. The sensory tub has been a hit with my son. Although he tends to grab one item from the tub and carry it around as a pet. Well at least he leaves the rest inside :)
I cannot wait to make the bottles though.

surendra said...

Great your idea and i like that .interesting your this post and fantastic details shared in the post. thanks



Romantic Dinner Bruges

rainbowmummy said...

I love these! So pretty to look at! I think it would be fun to have an alphabet search in a bottle full of number beads and vice versa.

A variation on the oil idea, I've seen a few "sensory bags" before using shower gel or hair gel. Might work in bottle form too.

Lisa said...

You are so awesome. I am going to do this for my kids.

Abbie said...

These are so cute! I love the idea of giving them as a party favor. The ABC one is really great. My daughter would love that right now!
Thanks for sharing.

anastasiaware said...

These are a great idea! I wonder if you could post a quick explanation about how to color the rice?

Monica said...

LOVE this idea! I will be making a couple of these for sure, as we travel to Florida next week! Thanks so much - brilliant!

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments!

anastasiaware: you'll find the answer to your question in my FAQ post (#17) on my sidebar. :)

Terri said...

Wow - you are amazing! Every time I read your blog I am inspired! I will definitely be trying these although it's a challenge to get the little trinkets where I live but I will search until I find something! Thanks for all your great ideas.

Kimberly said...

Hi, Love your blog and creative ideas! My son loves I spy to! How do you dye the rice?

Jen said...

No way! These are EXACTLY what I need to make for A's birthday! They are the perfect thing... thank you AGAIN for another wonderful idea!

Tina said...

We make these in my childcare home alot, but use plastic water bottles and hot glue the lid on tight. This helps avoid breaking, is CHEAP and we love them!

Umm Maimoonah said...

Thanks for the idea! We really enjoyed this too!

Becky said...

Oh I love them all!

Danae Farias said...

These look so cool! I think I'm gonna have to try to make some this coming year. Thanks for such inspiration.

Sincerely,
Danae@Believing Unbeliever

--sme said...

I want to make some of these to keep MYSELF occupied on long trips. What an AWESOME and easy idea! TFS!n

Ruth said...

Hey I'm so inspired by ur ideas ..i did one on my own too --->http://thankgodforthaleia.blogspot.com/
Thanks!

Kate Thompson said...

We loved this idea and linked it in our latest blog http://www.thecommunalpantry.com/81/post/2012/01/the-party-bag-original-and-unique.html

MamaBearx10 said...

I love the rainbow rice! Beautiful twist. I'm making some right now with my 6-yr.-old!

fejoia81 said...

HI There love this idea, i am wondering though if an eye spy bottle or a dicovery bottle would be better for an 18 month old. any advice appreaciated thanks.

Amelia Clark said...

I was really searching for such a nice post and got here...Thanks for sharing such a nice information, its beneficial for me...Keep sharing more.
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