I spy bottle with dry marker


Indoor Adventure: DIY Shake-And-Search I Spy Bottle

Jan 24, 2017

We love putting together activities and games with things we already have around the house. And with all of the winter weather we’ve been having lately, a fun, new (chilled-out) indoor activity was certainly welcome! Making a shake-and-search I spy bottle is a great way to put random little items and toys to good use, and it’s a perfect activity to pull out when a little quiet and calm is needed.

This version, which uses a handwritten checklist, is fantastic for kids who are reading or beginning to read, but you can always do a photo-style checklist (like we did with our fall nature I spy bottle and our Goodnight Moon I spy bottle) if your child is not reading quite yet.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a plastic bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid
  • water
  • beads
  • random bits and bobs
  • a strip of paper
  • a fineliner
  • clear packing tape
  • a funnel (optional, but helpful)
  • a hot glue gun (optional)

All the materials you'll need to make an I Spy bottle

First up, you’ll want to take inventory of all of the fun little bits and bobs you’ve found around the house. If you’re not sure what to include, be sure to hit up your junk drawer, craft supply closet and office for these random items. So long as it can fit through the opening on your bottle or jar, pretty much anything goes!

Using your strip of paper and a fineliner, create a checklist of all of the items your child can search for when the I spy bottle is complete, then set the list aside.

The list of things to find alongside a pen and bowl of objects that will be put in the bottle

Now to enlist some help! Putting this little shake-and-search bottle together is nearly as much fun as playing with it once it’s done, so be sure to invite your little ones to help with the process. First up, fill your bottle or jar about half way with water.

Pouring water into the I Spy bottle

Next, dump in a generous amount of beads. This can be done with a funnel or with a spouted measuring cup — both provide great pouring practice, though the bowl-to-funnel method is definitely a bit more challenging.

Pouring colourful beads into the I Spy bottle

Add in a few of your bits and bobs, and then cover them up with another layer of beads. Continue this process until the bottle is nearly full, then top it off with just a little more water.

Placing objects in the I Spy bottle

With the bottle completely full, screw the lid on tightly. To ensure it stays put, you can add a thick strip of hot glue inside the lid or a strip of clear packing tape around the outside, if you wish.

Securing the lid of the I Spy bottle

Now for the finishing touch! Cover your checklist with a strip of packing tape just bigger than the paper and press it firmly onto the outside of the bottle.

The I Spy bottle beside a roll of tape, ready for the checklist to be taped to the bottle

And voilà! Your shake-and-search I spy bottle is done! Add a dry erase marker and your little one can set off on a mission to find each of the little treasures inside.

A completed shake-and-search I spy bottle


Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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