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How to Make an "I Spy" Bottle

Claudia has been writing about crafts online for many years. She is an avid crafter who has been creating for most of her life.

Make your own I Spy Bottle.

Make your own I Spy Bottle.

Word of caution

This toy is NOT for young children. Even though it is sealed, the seal can break and there are many small items that represent a choking hazard.

How many of us have been in a pediatrician's waiting room playing with one of those I Spy bead filled toys to pass the time? I know I have. They drive me crazy because I can never find that one last item on the list.

I Spy games have been around as long as I can remember. Go into any area where children play and chances are you'll hear them saying "I spy with my little eye..." Bookstores have whole sections dedicated to I Spy books and games.

One of the most popular I Spy toys is the bead and toy filled bottle that you have to shake to find various trinkets. They are a fun and interactive way to play. Sometimes no matter how much you shake, twist and turn the bottle, you just can't seem to spy all the things on the list. That's what makes them so much fun, especially for people who love a challenge.

Try making your own I Spy bottle. It will save you a lot of money, and it's a really fun way to spend an afternoon with a child. All you need are a few items that you probably have around the house already.

Supplies needed for your I Spy bottle

Here are most of the supplies you'll need for your I Spy bottle.

Here are most of the supplies you'll need for your I Spy bottle.

My homemade funnel.

My homemade funnel.

Supplies

  • Clean, dry, clear plastic bottle, with top (any size, but I use a 2 liter soda bottle so I can get in lots of things)
  • Uncooked rice (amount depends on size of bottle)
  • Assortment of small items/toys
  • Pen and paper
  • Super glue
  • Funnel*
  • Clear packing tape

*For some reason I can never find my funnels. I probably have about 5 of them around the house, but they are hiding. So instead of going out and buying yet another one, I made one with a piece of scrapbook paper and some tape. Just roll it up so that one end will fit in the bottle and tape to secure (see inset photo above).

Fillers for your I Spy bottle

All you'll need for your I Spy bottle are rice and assorted toys/household items.

All you'll need for your I Spy bottle are rice and assorted toys/household items.

Having an eleven year old around the house makes it easy to find little items to put into the bottle. Look around and you'll be surprised at what you can find. Choose a mixture of all sorts of items to make it more interesting. For a twist, try making a themed bottle.

Note: Be careful what items you choose to put in your bottle. If you are making this toy for a younger child, do not use sharp items. Remember that this toy is not designed for really young children, as the items inside can present a choking hazard.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

I Spy bottle filler ideas

Never use items that can spoil, like candy. They will ruin the bottle.

Coins

Paper clips

Safety pins

Buttons

Game pieces

Miniature figures

Erasers

Small rocks

Beads

Nuts/bolts

Marbles

Balls

Charms

Barrettes

Keys

Toy jewelry

Start filling the I Spy bottle

An extra set of hands helps when adding the rice and toys.

An extra set of hands helps when adding the rice and toys.

I usually layer the rice and the toys when filling the bottle, but it really doesn't matter. Just make sure to leave some space at the top so everything can mix around easily.

Some items may not fit perfectly, but soft plastic pieces can be manipulated to fit.

You can see that the bottle in the picture above was still damp. I dried it as much as I could but, in this case, the rice absorbed all of the water residue. It is always better to wait until the bottle is completely dry before adding items.

Filling the bottle

Filling the bottle is easy.

Filling the bottle is easy.

While you are filling the bottle, make sure to write down what you put in. Believe me when I say that it will be hard to remember everything if you don't. Just keep a running list and then type it up on the computer for a label.

I Spy list and label

Keep a list of everything that goes into the bottle, then transfer it to the computer for an easy-to-read label.

Keep a list of everything that goes into the bottle, then transfer it to the computer for an easy-to-read label.

Once you've typed up the label, use clear packing tape to carefully tape it to the bottle. Make sure that it is completely covered, and that all edges are taped down. This will ensure that the label doesn't get torn off.

Almost finished - Here's the bottle with label taped on

You can see some of the items in the I Spy bottle.  It's almost finished!

You can see some of the items in the I Spy bottle. It's almost finished!

The final step

When you are happy with the bottle, it's time to glue the top on. This is an important step because you don't want to discover lots of little toys and rice scattered all over the floor. That would not be fun to clean up.

Remember that glue is not a guarantee that the bottle won't open. Because of the choking hazards never give this toy to a young child.

To glue the cap on, use a strong glue, like super glue or a hot glue gun, and spread the glue around the rim of the bottle and the inside of the cap. Screw it on tightly and let it sit for a few hours to dry.

Now your I Spy bottle is ready to be played with. Have fun and good luck finding everything on the list!

Making your own I Spy bottle is easy

This I Spy bottle will provide hours of fun!

This I Spy bottle will provide hours of fun!

© 2013 Claudia Mitchell

Comments

frogyfish on May 03, 2020:

COOL idea...going to hunt up things to make one for my five year old grandson's upcoming birthday.

Thanks for this wonderful toy idea!

Lisa on January 02, 2020:

I LOVE this idea!

susan hockham on October 28, 2017:

A brilliant idea for old and young alike

Kaye Rea on August 15, 2017:

I am starting to work with assisted living residents at a new place and i will be doing activities and this will be amazingly fun. Can't wait!!

Hal on May 28, 2017:

Who invented the I spy bottle?

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 28, 2015:

Hi sheliamarie - They definitely are fun, for any age too. And it's something that almost anyone can do too. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 28, 2015:

Thanks DzyMsLizzy! It's a great rainy day activity, also great for long car trips. I appreciate all of the votes.

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on April 27, 2015:

I used to make these bottles with families I worked with. They are really fun.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on April 27, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD!

What an interesting idea for kids! It's like a rainy-day version of a scavenger hunt!

Voted up, interesting and useful.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 27, 2015:

You're very welcome, Glimmer. You're welcome. I did enjoy it. I wish I remembered what I used in OT years ago--but I do remember it had rice and maybe peas in it.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thanks again Kristen Howe - Your first comment did not get lost, I have my comments set to approve before they appear on a hub and I'm just now getting home and sitting down to reply to comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for reading!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Many thanks sallybea - This is an older hub and one of my favorite projects too! My daughter still plays with this from time to time. We still have problems finding some of the things too! Have a great day!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Hi tillsontitan - Hope you are doing well. This is a nice fun twist on the card and board game. It's a little more tactile. Thanks so much for the kind comments and all of the votes! I appreciate it.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thanks so much for the vote Kristen and for checking out the hub. These, or versions of these, have been around for quite a while. Thanks again and have a great day!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Not at all poetryman. And if you make one you can always relive a little bit of your childhood. Seriously though, thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thank you so much RTalloni - I love the idea of a personalized I Spy bottle. I think that it makes it that much more special for the recipient. Have fun making yours!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Many thanks Lee - It's such a fun project to do with kids so enjoy! Thanks for all of the kinds words and support. Have a great day!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 27, 2015:

Glimmer, what a clever idea to keep kids occupied for a long period of time. How easy to make too. This reminds me of something I had in OT, years ago, when I was a young girl. I think it's similar to this. Congrats to HOTD--somehow my previous comment didn't go through. Voted up for useful!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Hi Rebecca - Glad you liked this project. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on April 27, 2015:

Glimmer Twin Fan

Congratulations on the HOTD! I remember commenting on this Hub. It seems like a long time ago, but it is nice to revisit it again. Well done, you really are making a habit of these HOTDays:)

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thank you purl3 - This has always been one of my favorite projects too. Thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Aww thanks so much Bill. I'm really slacking on my hub commenting, but I do appreciate it when you come visit my hubs. Hope you are doing well.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Have fun making your I Spy Bottle mary615! I know your granddaughter will love it. Thanks for the votes and share and comments. Have a great day!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Sunshine - I bet I know a grandchild or two that would love one of these. $1 for one of these is a good deal. They can be pretty pricey in the toy stores. If you decide to make one, have lots of fun! Thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Hi krillco - That is a great suggestion. It's not always that easy to find small things that are different and I know that doll house stores have pretty much everything under the sun in miniature form..Thanks for reading and the suggestion!

Mary Craig from New York on April 27, 2015:

However did I miss this hub? First, congratulations on your HOTD.

Second, I have played I Spy games in the car and on the Wii but I've never heard of this variation. What a fun game for kids and so easy to make thanks to your instructions.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 27, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD, Glimmer! What a clever crafty idea! This reminded me of a toy in my childhood for OT in a similar fashion. I'm not sure if it was an I spy bottle though, but was close enough. Voted up for interesting!

poetryman6969 on April 27, 2015:

Somehow I missed these. Does this mean I had a broken childhood?

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thank you so much Akriti Mattu. I appreciate it.

RTalloni on April 27, 2015:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this great children's learning toy. It could be used in so many ways, such as learning colors and even in spelling exercises, not to mention including them in busy boxes on trips. I have grands' birthdays to plan for and designing a personalized one for each of them is an idea I want to work on now…thanks!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Hi Suzie HQ - It's so nice to see you again! I hope you have been well. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I still see these games in waiting rooms so kids must still enjoy them! Have a great day!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2015:

Thanks very much Thelma! I appreciate it. Have fun making yours if you try this out.

Lee Cloak on April 27, 2015:

Super idea, i can wait to give it a go with my little ones and i know they will love it, a really great hub, well done to you, thanks for sharing, voted up, Lee

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 27, 2015:

How clever! A really cute idea.

Donna Herron from USA on April 27, 2015:

Always one of my favorite projects and hubs! Congrats on your HOTD!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 27, 2015:

A return visit to say congratulations on the HOTD. Well-deserved, of course.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on April 27, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD!! This is such a clever idea. I'm thinking of making one of these very soon. My three year old Granddaughter comes to visit often, and she would love this.

Voted UP, and shared.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 27, 2015:

I love I Spy bottles, I never thought about making one. We have one that I picked up at a Yard Sale for $1 but they paid a lot more for it! So much fun for all ages.

William E Krill Jr from Hollidaysburg, PA on April 27, 2015:

Great Piece! I don't know if anyone else suggested, but a great item idea is to find a store that has a section for dollhouses...often, there are very tiny and interesting things that could be added to a bottle...tiny candlestick phones, kittens, even framed pictures...

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on April 27, 2015:

This is such a cool post.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on April 27, 2015:

What a terrific idea and I had never come across this game before! Congrats on this being given the HOTD delighted to see you here and still thriving!!!

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on April 27, 2015:

What a wonderful idea for DIY I spy bottle! Thanks for sharing. BTW, Congratulations on the HOTD!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on November 17, 2014:

Thanks so much frogyfish! I'm glad you liked the project. I love the idea of family pictures. Have fun making your I Spy bottle and thanks for the support.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on November 16, 2014:

I just voted up and pinned your hub. Had never heard of this before...and it sounds like fantastic play. Just thought too, a 'family pictures' bottle might be good to learn all those kinfolk too. Might need to do that myself for the grandkids. Thanks for a great fun toy hub!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on August 11, 2014:

Thanks thefederows - It's a fun toy to make and we still play with it from time to time. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

thefedorows from the Midwest on August 10, 2014:

Great idea! Your photos and tips are helpful. Pinning to try soon!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 25, 2014:

Hi Natasha - This is a great project for friends with kids. It's always good to have something around the house for kids to play with if they come for a visit. It's fun for adults too! Have fun making yours and thanks for stopping by.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 25, 2014:

Thank you rajan! It really is fun for kids of all ages. I was playing with this one just the other day and there is one items I still can't find. That makes it more fun.

Natasha from Hawaii on April 24, 2014:

What a great alternative to buying one of these! We don't have any kids (yet), but I'lll keep this project in mind for the future and for friends who have little ones!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 24, 2014:

This is an interesting game for children and so easy to make. Thanks for sharing the details, Glimmer.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 15, 2014:

DChance2 - Kids really love these things and they are so easy to make. Thanks for reading and commenting.

DChance on April 14, 2014:

I have never though of doing that.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on March 11, 2014:

Thanks Suzanne - Like I said above, I took a few days off of HP so I am long overdue in responding to comments. These games really are fun for kids of all ages and I'm glad you enjoyed the project.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on March 11, 2014:

Thanks so much Pstraubie! Took a little break from HP so it took a while to respond. Sorry you are going through rough patch and hoping things smooth out for you all.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on February 27, 2014:

Haven't heard of I Spy bottles before, but it looks like a great idea for younger kids. I can imagine waiting for the doctor with one of these for amusement and I'm pretty sure it would work! Great idea and thank you for sharing. Voted interesting. x

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 27, 2014:

And what is so lovely is that our little techno age kids love these kinds of things. Clever clever...I know my baby grandson will love this...I am posting it on my daughter's mail so she can see it.

Thanks

Pinning...you are on the way to 1000 pins!! Awesome

And btw...we are having a bit of a rough patch right now but friends and family are helping us to work through it ' that is a huge part of why I do not get back here to visit very much....thanks again for sending us good thoughts.

More Angels are headed your way ps

Claudia Mitchell (author) on February 21, 2014:

Hi DDE - Thanks so much for reading an commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the project.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 21, 2014:

How to Make an I Spy Bottle is a great game to play and you showed this step by step process to the point.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 21, 2014:

Hi vespawoolf! I'm glad you'll be making one. They are definitely inexpensive and great to have tucked away for visitors, young and old! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 21, 2014:

Thank you Sheri Faye! Hope your friends with little ones like this project.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 20, 2014:

What a clever and inexpensive idea! I'd never heard of i spy bottles until I read this. I will definitely make one of these to have around the house for our guests who have children. Thanks so much!

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on January 20, 2014:

What a great idea!!! I will pass this on to those with little ones.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 15, 2014:

Now that sounds like fun Denise! You could make a contest out of it and put something really small and hard to find in the bottle. Then, when someone found it and showed you, they could win a prize. Thanks for telling me and have a great party!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on January 14, 2014:

Am sharing this great idea at a party this month for Chinese New Year, lol Not sure how adults are going to go for this, but am determined to make it work!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

Oh barbat79...I know those books well and an added bonus is that your child is only touching their own toy, not the one that every sick child has been playing with all day. Glad you enjoyed the project. Thanks for reading.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

Hi Phyllis - Wow, with seven siblings you'd have to make a lot of I spy bottles. But I bet you all would have loved them. These could be tailored to every child. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

Thank you for the vote ChitrangadaSharan. This was a fun a fun project to make.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

This really does keep the kids (and adults) from getting bored. Glad you stopped by Vellur. Have a great day!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

Thanks so much Denise! I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. It is super easy to make, you just have to find all the little nick nacks to put in. Thanks for the support.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

I appreciate it teaches. Preschoolers definitely love this one and as someone earlier said, put some gems in it for adults. That would be a nice Valentine's Day idea! I should tell my husband. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Have a great day.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 08, 2014:

Thanks for your support Michelle and I'm glad you enjoyed this craft. It definitely is a fun one!

B A Tobin from Connnecticut on January 08, 2014:

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! No longer do I need to hunt for the "hidden pictures" copies provided at the pediatricians office...and this grabs the attention of a younger audience! Bravo Thumbs up!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on January 08, 2014:

What a great idea. I have never heard of this marvelous toy -- and so easy to create your own, inexpensive, too. My mother would have loved this when all seven of us kids were young.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 08, 2014:

An interesting hub with easy to follow instructions! It would be a fun activity for the kids!

Thanks for sharing this useful hub! Voted up!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 08, 2014:

A great idea to keep kids from getting bored. The I spy bottle looks easy to make and great fun. Great hub, voted up.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on January 07, 2014:

I have never heard of this, but it is FANTASTIC ! I love it and can hardly wait to make one. So...rated UP/across and sharing.

Dianna Mendez on January 07, 2014:

I loved this when I taught pre-schoolers. It's such a great manipulative to put into a science center. Your post is excellent. Sharing!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on January 07, 2014:

Lovely and easy, and I really like this one, Glim. Voted up!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 07, 2014:

Glad you stopped by to read and comment janderson99. It does look a little bit like that. Thanks.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 07, 2014:

Thanks so much Better Yourself. It would definitely be a good thing to keep in the back of a car or van, especially if you've ever been stuck in traffic with a 7 year old for a couple of hours (speaking from experience here). Glad you enjoyed the project.

Dr. John Anderson from Australia on Planet Water on January 06, 2014:

Looks a bit like a message in a bottle. Have you ever tried - Sea Mail! Great for kids to get involved. Wonderful history!

Better Yourself from North Carolina on January 05, 2014:

What a FUN idea!! So creative and would definitely keep kids (and me) from getting bored in certain situations, Thanks for sharing!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 05, 2014:

Hi Heather - Thanks so much for such nice comments. I like the holiday idea too. A small soda bottle would make a great stocking stuffer or Easter Basket filler. Glad you enjoyed the hub and my penmanship :-) Now I'm off to try to find the penny in my bottle. I've been trying for days. Enjoy you day.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 05, 2014:

Hi aviannovice - A bored kid is an unhappy kid sometimes. What's nice about this is how simple it is, no video screen or loud noises. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Heather from Arizona on January 04, 2014:

This is amazing. I've seen the I Spy tubes at board game stores before but I really love the option of personalizing this project to fit holidays, color schemes, and themes. Thanks for sharing such a great idea and easy-to-follow tutorial. On an unrelated note, boy do you have lovely penmanship! Shared and pinned :)

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 04, 2014:

This is great. It could keep young people very busy. It would be very good for a trip.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 04, 2014:

Thanks Blokof. I appreciate it!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 04, 2014:

Hi Tolovaj - I did not think of it as a replacement for video games, but I think it could be, although with my daughter that would probably only be for a little while. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 04, 2014:

Many thanks for all of the shares Crystal Tatum! I appreciate your kind comments. My daughter is playing with this right now.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 04, 2014:

Thank you ologsinquito - It's fun to see how much kids love this game and how much parents do too!

Jeffrey from The Netherlands on January 03, 2014:

Cool that's an original idea ! Thank you for sharing! I even never had heard of them.

Tolovaj on January 02, 2014:

Sounds like fun project. I have never heard about this but I already like it much more than video games which are more and more present in waiting rooms nowadays...

Thanks!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 02, 2014:

Bill - It will not stop snowing here and tomorrow it is supposed to be freezing cold. This is definitely a good project for days like this. Thanks so much for all of the support. Happy New Year.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 02, 2014:

Breakfastpop - I hope your daughters enjoy the project. It's definitely a fun one. Thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 02, 2014:

Hi Stone Circle - This would definitely be good for a long car trip. That's a great idea! Thanks so much for the suggestion and the comments.

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on January 02, 2014:

What a great idea! Sharing this on HubPages, pinning and on Facebook. Great job with this. A unique take on the old fashioned game.

ologsinquito from USA on January 02, 2014:

This is a wonderful idea. I remember playing "I Spy" with my children when they were little.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on January 02, 2014:

What a great idea to keep the kids busy, especially on a cold and snowy winter day like we are having here today : ) Great instructions and list of filler ideas. Voted up, shared, et.... Happy New year.

breakfastpop on January 02, 2014:

I have never heard of this, but I love the idea! I am going to share this with my daughters.

Susan McLeish from Rindge, NH on January 02, 2014:

Great idea for taking in the car or on a trip when the kids seem to need a distraction! I love the idea of themed ones. Voted up and shared.