I Spy Bottles

I Spy Bottles – beautiful discovery bottles in a rainbow of colours…

What child doesn’t love to play “I Spy“?  Every year, here in my daycare, we make a set of I spy bottles or discovery bottles.   You should check out the Ocean in a Bottle that we made recently!  It’s SO cool!  The hooligans love the process of making these bottles.  It’s a great combination of water-play, fine-motor development and colour exploration.   I love that the bottles cost nothing to make and that they end up being a great source of learning and entertainment in our play room or yard.

I Spy Bottles

This particular set of I spy bottles might just be my favourite yet, because we set out to specifically make one for each colour of the rainbow.

I spy bottles lined up in rainbow order


What you’ll need to make a set of I Spy Bottles:

bowls of blue and green bits and pieces for the I Spy Bottles

Part of the fun is gathering all of the goodies that you’ll use to fill the bottles.  The hooligans and I went on a “treasure hunt”, searching through the toy-room, craft room and kitchen drawers, looking for small, colourful objects to use in our bottles.

Suggested items for your I spy bottles:

  • foam pieces
  • bread tags
  • crayons
  • chopped up straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • pony beads
  • buttons
  • glass beads
  • sequins
  • lego pieces
  • barbie/polly pocket shoes
  • rubber bands
  • marker lids

Once we’d collected lots of goodies, I set each child up with a bowl of coloured items and a clean, empty plastic bottle.

Clear bottle and green odds and ends on a styrofoam tray

Fine motor-fun and water play, what toddler doesn’t love that combination?

Dropping the items in the bottle is great for fine motor development, and lots of fun of course (they probably poured the items out and dropped them back in 3 or 4 times before I had to convince them that they were ready to move on to the next step).

child dropping blue items into plastic bottle

Next, they filled their bottles with water, all the way to the top, and put the caps back on the bottles.  I gave each lid a super-hard twist to prevent little hands from removing them.  Our bottles are outside for play, but if you’re going to keep yours inside, a little hot glue around the inside of the lid, before you put the cap on, isn’t a bad idea.

child filling I spy bottle with watering can

Aren’t they pretty?  I love how they reflect the sunlight.

close up shot of I spy bottles lined up on their sides in the sunlight

We have ours set up on a table in the backyard, and they look so colourful and cheery.

I spy (or discovery) bottles lined up in rainbow order

The hooligans have fun tipping the bottles upside down to watch which items float to the top, and which ones sink to the bottom.

Red I spy bottle being tipped upside down

And of course, it’s fun trying to find and identify all of the objects inside of our colourful I Spy Bottles.

To see more of our easy, inexpensive homemade toys and games, check out our:

Homemade Light Box

Cardboard Drop Box

Cardboard Construction Set

Button Snake Toddler Toy

DIY Shape Puzzle


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  1. says

    This is a great hands-on early learning activity for our younger learners. There is also some science involved in it too that they will learn later on and I bet they will remember these when they experiment later on too. Thank you for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop :-)

  2. Patricia Agacki says

    I’m moving from infants to 2’s this summer….i was just going to bring the bottles i had already made but this has put me in the right brain age….thanks

  3. says

    I love the idea ! Thanks for the inspiration.
    I do put a special liquid in the water so that it doesn’t change color with the time. The same liquid I use for ball with snow and a figurine (I don’t know the english word for it) and walm down bottles.

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