how to make Eye Spy rice bottles

January 1, 2010

Over the holidays, I was looking for a fun and simple homemade gift idea that Juliet could make for her friends. I found this idea for Eye Spy rice treasure bottles on Pink and Green Mama and thought we should give it a try.

First, we collected some empty water bottles. Ben is always flying for his job, so he brings home a lot of these mini-water bottles from the plane. I bought a big bag of white rice and collected some "treasures" in a muffin tin.

Here's a close-up of what we had: buttons, pennies, and various tiny charms like christmas lights, bumblebees, and bells.

Anything tiny enough to fit into the bottle would work--you probably have a lot of things like this laying around the house. I did end up going to Jo-Anns and picking up a few bags of tiny specialty buttons just because I thought that most of our stuff was a little bit plain and I wanted the treasure to be fun for the girls to look for.

Juliet had fun sorting the items into the muffin tins and then we set to work filling the jars. It turns out that using a funnel to transfer the rice into the bottle was the most fun part! She was really, really into this. We did spill quite a bit along the way, but it was easy to clean up and part of the fun. I liked that Juliet was able to "make" this gift almost entirely on her own! She felt very proud of her effort.

We poured a little bit of rice, added some treasures, filled more rice, added more treasure, until we got almost to the top. You don't want to fill them up completely because the treasures need some space to move around in.

After, we filled all the bottles, I glued the tops on (to prevent future rice disasters) and thought we were done. But then Ben said, "Um, is there anything you can do to make them not look so much like old water bottles?"

"But they ARE old water bottles!" I explained. "And they are homemade gifts made by a 2 year old, what do you expect?!" But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed that they looked a bit sad, so I glued some green ribbon around the caps and I glued round letter stickers representing each girls' name on the top.

There. Credit where credit is due: Ben gets the credit for the cute tops! (I hope you are reading this today!)

At this point, Juliet was done with her portion of the craft. I set about to finish it by making the "finder card"--which is a list of the treasures to be found inside the bottle. Pink and Green Mama took photographs of her treasures, laminated them, and included them with the gift. I LOVE this idea, but didn't see it until it was too late. I went the cavewoman route and decided to hand draw all the treasures...this seemed simple enough as I completed the FIRST card, but as I got to the second, I realized I had gotten into something I didn't really care to finish, but now had no choice.

So, YES. I did hand draw 4 cards, but I don't necessarily recommend it. (Unless you are a fabulous artist and this sort of thing is no big deal to you. For me, (whose drawing skills topped out at grade 2) it ended up being quite tedious.) I think I should have drawn one and then photocopied it...but again, did not occur to me until it was too late. I glued the card onto some scrapbooking paper, covered it with contact paper and thought I was done.

So now I had the jar and the card, but I thought, "these kids are going to lose these almost immediately...I need a way to keep these together!" I thought of a string, but then thought that would be awkward and potentially dangerous, so I settled on velcro.

You know those little round velcro strips with adhesive already on the backs? They were easy to use, just peel and stick. One on the bottom of the card and one on the bottom of the bottle. Now the bottle and card can stick together.

This ended up being a really fun project to do with Juliet and like I said earlier, the bulk of it was done by Juliet herself and that made it really special, especially when it came time to present the gifts to her friends. She still talks about the presents she made for "her girls" as she calls them.

Even though, we did this for Christmas gifts, they would be perfect for any occasion or even just as a fun project to do with your child on a rainy afternoon.

Do you have any fun preschool friendly homemade gift ideas to share?


Raising a Happy Child said...

Whoa, you went above and beyond! I am sure every recipient will enjoy this beautiful and unique gift. Happy New Year!

artsy_momma said...

I love how the tops turned out!

Infant Bibliophile said...

I should really try one of these for my son sometime, because he loves playing ispy in every way we've ever tried. I always felt like those might be alittle frustrating for him, like he'd want to get at the object inside and not understand it had to stay in the bottle. But now that I have seen them all around the "blogosphere," I realize he would probably have a ball with them. Thanks for the step by step instructions!

James Mayhew said...

What a lovely idea. I'm suddenly reminded of little worlds I painted and squeezed into bottles as a kid. I remember creating a scene from Journey To The Center Of The Earth (!!!)with dinosaurs. But you've inspired me to do this with my son. He loves undersea stuff so maybe he can recreate the Abyssal zone with a giant squid!!! Well, he's ten. Hard can it be?

mama smiles said...

I tried making one of these with my kids a while ago, and they were really upset that they couldn't remove the ispy objects...

Our favorite preschool made gift is cards, but my 3yo daughter loves to help bake things for friends also.

Jackie said...

Those are great! Your addition of the ribbon, sticker and card are great ideas. I made I-spy bags for Christmas gifts 2 years ago, but this would have been easier. A few weeks ago my preschoolers made "junk jars" for our study of the letter "J". Fun!

Adriana said...

Absolutely LOVE this! I am bookmarking it right now. The "finding card" is genius. I know that both of the boys would get a kick out of this.

vanessa said...

I would love to see pics of the abyssal zone with a giant squid! And I bet the Journey to the Center of the Earth one you made was amazing. I was fascinated by a comic book version of that story when I was a kid.

I look forward to seeing how your bottles turn out! Let me know if you make these.

pink and green mama said...

The Eye-spy bottles turned out great! I think you did a wonderful job. I like the way you added the finder cards with the velcro dots, very clever solution!!

pink and green mama

Jenn said...

I've been working on making sensory bottles for my son over the last few months & was planning on making eye spy bottles after Easter. Yours turned out great! I’ve got a MckLinky party called Tot Tuesdays which started on Tuesday. I hope you'll stop by & share some of your ideas for tots:


Ozowiezo said...

Hi from the Netherlands!
And thanks so much for posting this great craft project.
I made 2 DIY I spy bottles for my daughters ( 4 and 1 year old) and they absolutely loved them. They played with them the entire car trip to France (8 hours) so we can safely say it was a HUGE success ;-)

Thanks again for sharing.
And if you'd like to see my bottles:

Love and Lollipops said...

Thanks for this super tutorial! I have really been meaning to do this for ages, so when I saw your gift ideas post today, I was newly inspired.

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