I Spy Bottle: Garden Life

Hello everyone! I’ve decided to theme each month’s worth of posts and this month has a small thread of gardening extending through them all. Next month, I plan to dive into connecting with ourselves, but for today, I’ll be explaining how to make an I spy bottle.

There are so many different I spy bottle ideas all over Pinterest, but since I’m a huge nature nerd, love gardening, and want to pass that appreciation and knowledge onto children, I decided to make this particular one garden themed. I’ve made an aquatic themed one before and have done one with alphabet and number beads as well as different color buttons, as well. Like I said, though, there are so many different ways to make these, so get creative! Feel free to make it themed or just gather up some small items from around the house.

Let’s get into it!

You’ll Need:

1 Dry and empty bottle (I used a VOSS water bottle)

About 2 cups of dry rice (Purchased at Dollar Tree)


Food coloring

Large resealable bag

Small items (I chose to use leftover seeds plus buttons and erasers found through Joann’s, Amazon, and Etsy)

Hot glue


Colored printer

Page protectors

Dry-erase marker



Gather your supplies and choose your items. For this, I’m using bug buttons, seeds (pea, peanut, pumpkin, watermelon, corn, sunflower, green bean), erasers, and other buttons. *Optional: Lay your items out in an organized fashion on a blank white sheet of paper and take a picture of them. You’ll see why later!

Measure amount of rice needed. For this, I poured it from the bag into the water bottle and filled it close to the top. I knew I wouldn’t need it all, but I’d rather have extra that can be used for something else than not enough. You can also measure by using 2 cups.

Put measured rice into large resealable bag. Add vinegar and food coloring to the bag of rice. Use 1 teaspoon of vinegar for every cup of rice. Start with a few drops of food coloring first, about 3 or 4, since more can always be added. Seal the bag and shake it around until the color appears evenly distributed throughout the rice. Add more food coloring if desired.

Once you’ve reached a color you’re pleased with, pour the rice onto a pan or baking sheet that has a lip around the edge and is large enough for the rice to lay flat. Let it dry for several hours. To play it safe, I’d say let it dry for 24 hours.

Use a funnel or spoon to carefully pour or scoop the rice into the bottle. Leave about 2 inches of space from the top of the bottle. Add small chosen items. Screw the lid on and shake it around. Add or remove rice depending on desired ease of finding the items. More rice will make it more difficult for items to shift and move around in the bottle.

Once you have the desired rice to item ratio, remove the lid, and use hot glue to go around the outside of the mouth of the bottle and twist the lid back on. This is to ensure that curious children don’t empty the contents of the bottle.

Seek away!

*Optional: Use the picture you took of the items to print out a seek guide. If you want to, write the name next to each item either through text boxes on the computer or in pen or marker. Put the printed sheet in a page protector and allow children to circle items with a dry erase marker as they find them. Just make sure the dry erase marker circles don’t stay on the page for weeks on end. Try to erase them at the end of the activity and you can continue to reuse it. If you want to create several I spy bottles, consider putting the pages for each in a small binder for children to easily find.


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