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  • Writer's pictureMarvellous

I Spy Bottle

A fun discovery game and a brilliant way to keep young children entertained for hours on end. The I Spy bottle is filled with rice, and the idea is for your child to shake and move the bottle so they can identify exciting small objects hiding within the rice. Perfect for long car journeys, short or long haul flights, trips out to restaurants, or just a nice quiet time activity. 



Age Group

2 years +


What are they learning?

Physical Development: 

Enhances motor skills and dexterity as children manipulate the bottle between their hands and fingers. 

 

Communication and Language: 

Develops language skills through detailed discussions about each object within the bottle. Asking questions about the objects can lead to conversations, comparisons, contrasts, and associations. 

 

Mathematics: 

Involves counting, recognising shapes, and potentially grouping objects within the bottle, contributing to early math skills. 

 

Understanding the World: 

Encourages observation skills as children search for and identify objects within the I Spy bottle. 

 

Personal, Social and Emotional Development: 

Fosters concentration skills as children engage in the activity of identifying hidden objects within the bottle. 

 

What you'll need:

  • A plastic completely see-through bottle with a lid 

  • Rice 

  • Funnel 

  • 10-20 small objects 

  • List of things for them to find (optional)  

How to set it up:

  1. Source a see-through plastic bottle.  

  1. Rinse it out and scrub off any sticky labels that may have been on the outside. (hot soapy water and a little elbow grease with a cloth tends to get the sticky, stubborn glue from a water bottle label off. Alternatively, try some nail polish remover and rinse thoroughly. You can also find clear bottles online that are designed for sensory activities like this. 

  1. Make sure the bottle is completely dry before continuing. 

  1. Using your funnel, carefully pour the rice into the plastic bottle but only ¼ full. You might like to do this over the sink or a baking tray to catch any rice that decides to escape! 

  1. Once the plastic bottle is ¼ full of rice, start posting in several of the small objects inside the bottle.  

  1. Give the bottle a gentle shake (be careful as the lid is still off!) to mix the objects into the rice. Then repeat adding the rice to fill half of the bottle. 

  1. Add in several more of your chosen objects and rice until you've reached the top. 

  1. Screw on the lid and double check it is nice and tight. 

  1. You can write out a list of the objects and work through it with your child too. This can help make the game a little easier, as they know what they're looking out for.  

 

Tips and Tricks

A clear plastic bottle is usually better to use than a coloured plastic bottle, as this can sometimes make it harder to see the items through. 

 

Before collecting lots of small objects on a tray that you’re going to hide inside the bottle, don't forget to double-check that they’re small enough to fit into the bottle you've chosen! 

 

Suggested items you may have at home to go into a ‘random objects bottle’ include: 

Lego brick, plastic spider, plastic animal, elastic hair bobble, 1p coin, plaster, pencil sharpener, small rubber, hair clip, match, safety pin, key, piece of pasta, badge, plastic flower and a birthday candle. 

 

A really fun twist to the i spy bottle activity is to fill your clear plastic bottle with hundreds and thousands (found in the baking aisle) instead of rice. Alternatively, you can use lentils, cous cous, or the tiny pasta stars (which you could spray paint gold or silver for a lovely Christmas themed bottle.) 

 

Make sure that your little one clearly understands the rule that they must never undo the cap of the bottle. If you're worried that might just be too tempting, you can choose some brightly coloured duct tape and secure the lid that way. Some people might like to use superglue around the neck of the bottle where the cap is screwed onto, however, be very careful that your child doesn’t come near to that until completely dried. 

 

An alternative game to finding the objects is to actually play I Spy together. This is a great way to teach your child descriptive words. For example, for a coin, you could say “I see something, round, shiny, and cold.” 

 

If you don't have a funnel to pour the rice into the bottle, just roll an A4 piece of paper into a cone and pour the rice into the bottle that way. 

 

Another top tip, leave a bit of space at the top of your bottle before securing the lid. This gives the rice, lentils or hundreds and thousands plenty of space to be shaken around, making space for the hidden objects to become clearly visible.  


Additional things to consider

  • Decide whether or not you'd like your I Spy bottle to have a theme. Some ideas could include space, ocean or Christmas themes. 

  • Are the objects just going to be a random selection of exciting things to discover?  

  • You may want to do colour themes too so having all blue items or all yellow items. You could even use our dyed rice guide to make colourful rice to add.  

  • If your child is learning a certain letter from the alphabet at the moment, you could choose items starting with that letter to go inside the bottle. Alternatively, you could even use small letter tiles or beads to support letter recognition. Ask your child questions like; “Can you find the letter that makes the sound ‘Mmmmm’”, “What colour is it?” and “Can you see any more?” 

 


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