I Spy

My family is looking forward to a quickly approaching vacation, and I’m trying to think of 1001 things  to help make our 14+ hour travel time go as smoothly as possible for Poppy and her cousin (and therefore every other person on the plane [insert nervous chuckle]). Thankfully, I feel like I’m ahead of the game, if only by a smidgen, and have a bit of time to plan out some fun and inexpensive ways to keep us all entertained or at least distracted.

Poppy adores this First Words picture book, so when I saw a DIY I Spy bottle on Pinterest, I thought it was an excellent toy to make for her.

A similar toy at Target is listed for $18.99, and I can confidently say I made Poppy’s I Spy bottle for at least half that price. The cool thing about this kind of project is that you really can make it as inexpensive or pricey as you want. If you have everything on hand, you can put it together for no additional cost in no time flat.

I intended to purchase a taller and thinner water bottle to use for my I Spy bottle, but Target didn’t have quite the right thing. I needed the bottle to be completely see-though (obviously), and most of their water bottles were different colors or had a different kind of lid than I was looking for. Thankfully, Chris suggested looking in the exercise equipment aisle, and he was right. On clearance for $4.99, I found this Thermos brand food jar. It was exactly what I needed.

I bought a bag of white rice and used roughly one pound. I also splurged a bit and bought some fun and chunky buttons at Hobby Lobby, just in case I couldn’t come up with too much around the house. Turns out, I would have been fine with using solely what I could find in craft storage, but it was fun to choose a few things that I thought would be especially fun.


The larger, “chunkier” treasures you see are the ones I purchased from Hobby Lobby.

In addition to those chunky buttons, I used a few other buttons, a few sequins, a birthday candle, beads from a broken bracelet, and, well, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.


Round two of found treasures.


The last of the treasures I found around the house


I was essentially finished with my little project when I decided to consult my inspiration photo again. That’s when I realized there was actually a good tutorial with the photo. That blogger recommends taking a photo of all the little treasures you use so that your kiddo can use the photo as a guide. I decided that because Poppy is only (almost) 2, I wasn’t going to worry about the photo guide. Either I will be interacting with her while playing with this new toy (“Poppy, can you find the birthday candle?”) or she will likely be happy simply shaking and looking by herself.


Ta-Da! A fun and simple project you can complete in less than 30 minutes.

A few things of note:

  • You might need to play with the toy to determine just the right amount of rice. After I thought I had the right amount, I decided to remove a few handfuls and was much happier with the way the “treasures” moved with the rice. If the bottle is too full, it will be harder to find the treasures.
  • You’ll almost definitely want to permanently secure the lid. The tutorial behind my inspiration photo recommended hot glue, so that’s what I intend to use.
  • Shaking rice in a plastic container develops a bit of static, apparently. The sides of my food jar hold on to any rice “dust” that I poured in. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me, and I’m not entirely sure how to avoid the dust if it bothers you (maybe better quality rice?); but I did want to mention it so it doesn’t catch you off guard.
I love all the random treasures for Noelle to find!

I love all the random treasures for Poppy to find!

I plan on wrapping this baby up for Poppy’s 2nd birthday, gauging her reaction, and then most likely putting it away for a while so she’ll be excited to see it again for our trip.

If you decide to make an I Spy bottle, I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments how it goes!


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