"I Spy"

Here is a new take on the old game “I Spy”  It’s a great quiet time activity or you can make it for a very inexpensive gift for a child in your life! Or take it on a car trip…like we will be doing tomorrow!

If you use things you have around the house and buy a few little trinkets on clearance, this little game will probably end up costing you around $1 each!

My friend Rachel first introduced me to this cute idea. I believe she made hers at a Parents-as-Teachers playgroup.

Here’s what you’ll need:  an empty and completely dry water bottle, sand (I used the extra fine sand), a funnel, glitter, various trinkets and craft supplies that will fit through the hole of the water bottle (I got the tiny blocks and sports erasers on clearance), and an index card. Optional:  hot glue gun and a scrap piece of fabric.

1. Using the funnel, let your little one help pour the sand about halfway up the bottle.

2. Add some glitter.

3. Put your trinkets in. You can use beads, pom-poms, screws, nuts, bolts, craft supplies, numbers cut out from foam sheets, etc. Let you and your child’s creativity be your guide… :)

4. After your items are placed inside, fill the water bottle up about 2/3 full.

5. Put the cap on and tape around it. If you have a child who is very persistent in your house like I do at mine…hot glue a piece of scrap fabric over the cap.

6. Tie a ribbon onto the cap of the bottle.

7. Make a “contents list” to tie onto the bottle. This way your little one can try to find each of the items on the list. I only added the letter blocks for Big Brother’s name because they would have taken up the whole bottle had I added them all!

8. Make a whole on the list and tie it to the ribbon on the bottle.

9. Let your little one get started. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy playing with it too! :)

Literature Link:
I Spy board books by Jean Marzollo
These board books are excellent for children, starting around 2 years of age. They are simplified versions of the “I Spy” books for older children. One one side of the page are a few individual pictures of items (with word labels). On the other side of the page is an entire scene in which you can find those individual pictures. We have the Little Wheels book and Big Brother loves searching for the items in the picture!
I Spy Little Book
I Spy Little Wheels

I Spy Little Letters
abc button


  1. Aren't they fun??? I made I-Spy bags out of fabric and vinyl tablecloth pieces (posted about them here in somewhat neurotic detail…) – I went with the bags instead because I have a niece who I am convinced will cure cancer someday but in the meanwhile, she's amusing herself taking everythig apart along the way. :>) I made them somewhat different levels of difficulty, too! (Neurotic, I know…) Fun stuff!

  2. Very cute idea. They actually have an adult game that is simular, but they use small plastic "rice like" beads for the filling instead of sand. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Wow – how fun is that! This will be a great thing to do for our upcoming car trip! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I wish I was able to download a pdf version of your craft ideas! It would be so much easier to make them if I could print it out and take the instructions into the kitchen with me!

  5. How fun! Thanks for sharing this idea with those of us that really need some activity ideas! It looks just as fun to make as it will be to play with.

  6. Great idea to add glitter! I tried this with my kids (minus the glitter) a couple times, but they always complained about toys being "caught" in the bottle. Maybe when they're older…

  7. I am IN LOVE with this project. I am in the middle of crafting an I Spy bag and you just showed me an easier way to do it. Awesome!

  8. My aunt has one of these and they used birdseed as the filler and they attached a label to one side so it wouldn't come off. She has had it for years and is always played with by everyone.

  9. I love your blog! I was sent here by Money Saving Mom for your I Spy Mat and saw your others posts on the subject. You have inspired me for I spy Easter baskets this April. Thank you so much for all these neat ideas.

  10. Love this idea. I’ve done this with my kids before. We actually took pictures of the objects before we put them into the bottle. Then we printed the pictures individually onto photo paper (wallet size) for sturdiness, although you could easily use cardstock. My daughters shuffle the cards and find the picture on the card. So much fun!

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