DIY I-Spy Travel Game

DIY I-Spy Travel Game
A couple weeks ago I did a post about Chiquita’s new crushed fruit snack product. We finished them and I rinsed the bottles to put them in our recycling bin, but they were kinda cute, so I left them sitting on the kitchen counter.

I was trying to decide what to do with them and I remembered that I recently came across this great I-Spy bottle on Pinterest. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest yet, you should check it out ’cause it’s awesome. Comment with your email if you’d like an invite.

I love the idea of an I-Spy bottle because it’s a great quiet activity for the kids to do in the car and it was fun and easy to make. The kids even helped! I thought I’d write up this tutorial for anyone interested in trying it themselves.

First, what you’ll need:

  • a bottle (I liked the Chiquita ones because they are small and have an interesting shape, but you can use any bottle you’d like)
  • white rice
  • vinegar
  • food coloring
  • Ziploc bags
  • cookie sheet
  • funnel
  • tiny toys, do-hickeys, odds & ends, and whimsies
  • glue gun

You could use white rice (in which case you don’t need the vinegar, cookie sheets, ziploc bags or food coloring), but where’s the fun in that? To color the rice, put white rice in a ziploc bag and add a teeny bit of vinegar; I used about a 1/2 teaspoon. You can skip the vinegar, but the color may not be a bright without it. Then add some food coloring in whatever color you’d like. We made four bottles at the same time so we did four different colors. Then close your Ziploc bag and shake.

Once your rice is the color you want, spread it out on a cookie sheet to dry. Your rice should be really dry before you put it in the bottle. You can leave it overnight to dry, put it out in the sun for a while, or put it into the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees and stir it halfway through.

We’re impatient so we put it in the oven. Here’s our finished rice:

Next I let the boys pick out little items to go in their bottles from our jar of “whimsies”. You can use coins, little toys, buttons, stray boardgame pieces, and any other odds and ends you find. You can also buy little gumball machine toys on eBay or Etsy or look for little objects in craft stores (the scrapbooking section is usually a good place to look). Cooper and Dexter picked out random items for their bottles. We made two other bottles for some friends who like blue and pink, so we picked out blue items for one bottle, and pink for another.

Next it was time to fill our bottles. The boys loved putting the rice into the funnel and watching it fill the bottle. I found it worked best to layer the odds & ends and rice throughout the process; it made it easier to mix the contents later.

Once the bottles were filled, it was time to shake them up to mix everything up.

After they finished shaking, I used a hot glue gun to glue the tops onto the bottles. Our finished product:

I love that these are small enough to toss in the diaper bag or keep in the car, but the boys seem to enjoy them at home to. Not only are they I-Spy games, but they love shaking them like maracas, and Dexter likes to build towers with them.

Is this a project you’d try with your kids? Have you made any fun travel activities for your kids?


  1. I have a friend who made one of these — been wanting to ever since I saw hers. Now I have directions!!

  2. nicky barnes says

    wow i love all this so simple and cheap but its things like this that make child hood so magical!!!
    very high in my estimation!!!


  1. […] love one with jewels, rings, bracelets, princess erasers and figurines. I love the idea of using board game pieces […]

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