I-spy bottle

I’ve seen these all over the internet lately and decided it was time to make one for my kids. I had this great bottle that had hot chocolate in it that I got at a specialty home store. I thought it would be perfect for this, and it was. I searched the house for small things to put in the bottle, and in no time at all I had a pretty good collection. It’s amazing how much garbage small treasures you can find in your home when you really search. I put this together in no time at all and Kirsten ADORES it. It cost me next to nothing to make – I already had everything I needed to make it on hand. Here’s the directions:

What you’ll need:

1 plastic bottle
small items/toys
hot glue gun


1. make sure bottle is clean and dry
2. lay out all your small items/toys and take a picture of them
3. print this picture out and laminate it if you can
4. start filling bottle alternating rice with a few toys until bottle is about 3/4 full – you want to leave some room at the top so you can shake and move the rice around the bottle
5. unless you want a large mess on your hands – use a hot glue gun and glue the lid on!
6. give the bottle to your kids with a picture of the items in it and have them find all the items.

Every shake will show new treasures:

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84 thoughts on “I-spy bottle

  1. sweet & lovely crafts

    This would be so perfect to pull out when you’re grocery shopping to amuse the kids. And those little toys from the Christmas crackers will be perfect for this. I’m going to save those toys and make one of these for sure!

  2. sweet & lovely crafts

    This would be so perfect to pull out when you’re grocery shopping to amuse the kids. And those little toys from the Christmas crackers will be perfect for this. I’m going to save those toys and make one of these for sure!

  3. Love and Lollipops

    Hi Jill,

    I’m working on my eye spy bottles as we speak :)
    The hold-up has been finding little things…I am so sorry now that I parted with my eraser collection…it would be perfect!

    Love your pictures!! Yours really turned out nicely…that bottle is cool!!


  4. Jill

    Thanks ladies!

    Rachel – I actually found most of the trinkets lying around my house. Most of them came from the dollar store originally though. Were there any specific ones you were looking for?

  5. Sus

    Thank you for this! I just made one for an older brother gift for a baby shower, something to keep him occupy when his mom is in labor! I found a lot of my small things at a Party City, like the 35 cent section! And I used a Voss water bottle that I got at Harris Teeter. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  6. Jennifer

    I made these for my kiddos using kraft mayo jars. We colored the rice for my oldest & it is much harder to find the “treasures”!
    Recently, we used empty water bottles & made them at a church summer camp! We cut card stock circles, had the kids make a list of what was inside & glued them to the bottom of the bottle. They turned out great & it was so easy on the budget!!

  7. Jill

    It’s actually a bottle that I had from some specialty hot chocolate. It’s exactly the same as a Voss water bottle though. I hope that helps!

  8. Misti

    Just found this on Pinterest & love it! We’ll be in the car for 17 hours this weekend so I’m going to try to make one before we leave. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jill

    Thanks The Baker!

    I can’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use sand. I would definitely glue on the lid though! That would be a big mess if it came open.

  10. Rachel

    Found this on pinterest! Thank you for the brilliant idea. I found a bath salts container at the dollar store (plastic, because I think my 2 yr old would break a glass one) and some little things I had laying around the house. She’s going to love this!!

  11. Brooke

    This is a great idea! I am wanting to make some of these for my daughters teacher. Thought these would be good inside recess activities. I am having problems finding bottles that look nice and are wide enought to fit toys through the top. The VOSS water through Amazon is so expensive but it looks really nice. Any other ideas for a bottle?

  12. Jill

    Thanks ladies!

    Brooke – I’m so happy you found some! Who would have thought they would have them on Ebay?!?! I guess they truly do have everything.

  13. Teresa

    A little late here, but love the idea! How big are these bottles? Did you use the big, 27 oz or just the 16.9 oz ones? Just trying to figure out which would work better….Thanks!!!

  14. Jill

    Hi Teresa! The ones in the pictures above was the big 27oz. I’ve also used the 16.9oz ones for them too though and they worked just fine. You can obviously put more stuff in the bigger ones though! I hope that helps.

  15. Kiehn

    Micheal’s has buttons that are different shapes and are small enough to fit in a regular old water bottle (like you buy at the grocery store). The buttons are kind of pricy, but with a 40% off coupon they are great. I am a kindergarten teacher and I am going to make 5 or 6 of them this summer for the kids to use at choice time. I am going to take a picture of the contents and laminate and then the students will check them off with a visa-via marker.

  16. Cynthia

    Did you use the glass or plastic Voss bottles? I was wondering if the label comes off easily since I had trouble removing the glue from a plastic Smart Water bottle. Great project…I can’t wait to make these for a couple of kids that are dealing with extended hospital stays!

  17. Jill

    Hi Cynthia! I use the plastic voss bottles when I make these. The one in the picture is a glass bottle because that’s all I had when I made it, but I’ve since made lots of these and used the plastic. I didn’t have any trouble removing the labels. If you ever have any sticker residue, just take a little butter and some paper towel and rub it off. It works wonders!

  18. Cynthia

    That butter tip was absolutely a time saver and worked perfectly! Thank you so much for answering my questions…and I now have a butter labeled “craft” in the frig! ;)

  19. Patty

    I made one of these filling it with wedding rings and white sand. Thanks for the great idea on Pinterest. I put it on my blog. Pattysprettiescards.blogspot.com

  20. Crystal

    Thanks for the idea! I have been collecting things for the past few days since I first saw a picture of this on Pinterest. Here are some of the items I have been collecting: Barbie Shoes, small rubber ball, rhinestones, gumball, foam flower sticker, small dice, marbles, tiny plastic clam shells, paper clips, beads, glitter, random squinkies I find laying around and much more. We have a road trip tomorrow so I think I am making one tonight so it will be ready :)

  21. Jill

    That’s wonderful Crystal. I’ve since made a few more of these for my kiddos too and put in some new items. It’s amazing what you kind find – those squinkies are awesome for it – and it gets them off my floor, lol! Good luck with your road trip!

  22. Katherine (Aurora Spitfire)

    I love this idea and had so much fun gathering all the stuff to make these! So far I’ve finished a mini bottle for my toddler that I broke out on a car trip this week. He loved it!! I got such a kick out of watching him giggle, shake it, giggle more, turn it, giggle, call out stuff he saw…priceless. I wrote about it on my blog (twice, actually). Here’s the more recent post… http://auroraspitfire.blogspot.com/2012/03/some-new-toys-fun-time-friday-came.html

  23. Peg H

    I’m going to use this for a party game and add
    in letter cubes the birthday girls name (just a added puzzle to figure out) I think it will be cool. You could incorporate the party theme into the items to find in the bottle. Our theme is icecream cones.

  24. WhirlyBird Photo

    I am wondering if you or anyone here has ever tried to get these onto an airplane? I made them for an upcoming trip and today it occurred to me that I might have trouble getting through security.

    1. Jill

      No, I haven’t! That never really crossed my mind, but you’re totally right. Hopefully they’ll realize that it’s just a children’s toy and everything will be fine! Good luck and have a great trip!

  25. ~Trigger~

    I just found this on Pinterest and I’m making one for a long road trip for our toddler. I wasn’t sure about what trinkets to use, but I found some cute packages of fun buttons at Michaels (tractor/car shapes, ducks, hearts, plus different colored buttons, pom poms, gems/marbles, and finally a penny and a pencil eraser.

    I’m making it in the morning because I just found the Voss water bottles for $1.49 at the grocery store!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jill

      The glass bottle I used for this was an old hot chocolate bottle from a specialty store – it isn’t a voss water bottle. I’ve since made these with voss water bottles – but I use the plastic ones where the labels are stickers and peel right off. I hope that helps!

  26. CJ

    Hi. Thanks for this idea. I love the pictures. I was originally going to make an I Spy page for my kids quiet books but decided on the bottle instead after seeing your post.

    I was wondering how the rice holds up? Does it start breaking apart after repeated shaking etc.? Did you use Minute Rice?

    My brother in law is getting married in Sept. and I thought this would be extra insurance for keeping the kids quiet during the ceremony. :) Then it will also be a great toy to play with on the way home (8 1/2 hour drive).

    First I hunted for the Voss water bottles. I love the clean look of the bottles. I found glass but didn’t want that for a toy preschoolers would play with. I just couldn’t find the large plastic ones anywhere. I finally called a distributor out East and was able to buy a case of the bottles for cheap. I picked them up from a distributor in my city! No shipping. Love it. WAAAAYYYY cheaper than Amazon or buying them from eBay. It even worked out to be cheaper than buying the smaller size locally. Sure I had to buy a case (12 bottles) and that was more than I needed but I figured I would make some to give away as Christmas or birthday gifts.

    I wonder up to what age do kids like I Spy kind of stuff?

    I went to the dollar store to start collecting my trinkets (can you believe with a 3 & 4 yo in the house I only had 2 squinkies and pop bottle tabs!). I found a few things, seashells, the tastee erasers, pearls, mini clothespins, emotion tacks (have different facial expressions), mini corks, mini keys. I still didn’t have enough variety……so I looked to eBay. I thought I was over eBay….apparently not. China is great and so cheap compared to the dollar store!

    I have a boy and a girl so I was on the hunt for boyish and girlie things. I picked up mini flatback cabochons in nailpolish bottles, crowns, hello kitty, my little ponies, suns, hearts, footprints, fruits, hats, music notes, ladybugs, pandas, butterflies, orange slices, handcuffs, monsters, aliens, beach umbrellas, lips, starfish, eyeballs (for dolls), Spider Man masks, combs, ice cream cones and flowers. I even purchased transparent letter beads so that I can put each child’s name into the mix. Then I hit Michael’s and picked up the buttons in the shapes of trucks and dinosaurs, some Christmas mini lights and snowflakes and birthday stuff. I didn’t want the bottles to be the same. Needless to say it went too far! LOL

    I now have enough trinkets to fill more than the 12 bottles I have! Oh well, my daughter loves crafts. I’m sure they will be used. My sons’ preschool moms and my family members have requested their own bottles. I am just waiting for a few more things to arrive in the mail and then it will be time to put it all together.

    I am thinking of writing the names of the items on the picture under each image before laminating. I think it will be good practice for sounding out words (my son is entering K). I have been trying to decide how to attach the picture to the bottle so that it doesn’t get lost as this will be mostly an in-transit toy. Any ideas? Elastic glued on or a ribbon tied through a hole in the picture, a chain?

    I have seen some bottles with colored rice and think I will do that with my sons’ bottle. With my daughters’ bottle I will probably do a mix of color and white. Making it more difficult will make it last longer.

    I have also wondered about attaching a mini dry erase (washable) marker. The child can mark off the items as they are found and afterwards the ‘board’ can be erased and the fun begins again. Perhaps I am taking this a tad bit too far? How can you tell I am a type A personality? Perfectionist some would say. At any rate I know the little stuff (markers and tying on the page) isn’t important to the kids. I can hardly wait to see what they think of them. If you have any input I would love to hear it. You’ve made a few more of these so I’m sure some things are different than your original post.

    Thanks for letting me babble on. I am so excited to make these for my people. Thanks again for the great idea.

    1. Jill Post author

      Hi CJ! I actually didn’t use minute rice – I just used regular white long-grain rice. They have held up very well over the years. My kids still like playing with them from time to time and they are 4 and 6. What a great idea to find mini trinkets on Ebay! I bet you got some awesome ones!! I’ve attached the laminated sheet by punching a hole in the laminated sheet, putting an elastic through the hole and tying the elastic around the lid rim of the water bottle. The marker is a good idea except I don’t know how you would attach it if you already attached the laminated sheet too! It might be too much on the bottle. I would also want the dry erase marker to be washable in case it got on their hands, clothes, etc. Good luck making these and I hope your kiddos love them!

  27. Angelique

    this reminds me of the first flight i took with just my daughter (then 10 months old… it was her second time flying but first without daddy along). she was rather fussy being too over stimulated to just fall asleep. a very understanding flight attendant gave her a plastic drink cup with a lid and several peanuts inside. it at least distracted her for a little while before exhaustion kicked up the fuss again!

    now she’s 2 years old and i just made her one of these bottles. i’ll see how she likes it after nap! thanks for the great ideas and directions! it was so easy that i may make one for her younger boyfriend (8 months!)


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