Discovery Bottles Objective: to develop children’s observation skills, predictability, scientific concepts, and thinking skills.
1. Sand Bottle: Fill the bottom of a bottle with sand. Add water, and shake and see what happens when the bottle is shaken. For a variation, add colored sand and water to a bottle
2. Alphabet Discovery Bottles: Fill bottles with colored sand and objects that begin with two or three different letters. For example: add small plastic toys such as dinosaurs and dice for the letter Dd and plastic ants and apples for Aa. Place a clipboard next to the bottle so children can record or draw what items begin with each alphabet letter.
3. Swirling Colors Bottle: Spray foam shaving cream into a bottle. Add warm water to fill the bottle. Shake, and watch the foam dissolve. Add more water if needed, till all the foam is dissolved. Add food coloring (one color per bottle). When finished, attach the lids and prepare to be mesmerized as the colors and the white swirl together.
4. TREASURE HUNT JAR: 1 clean plastic peanut butter jar with lid; Finch bird seed.
Fill the jar half full of bird seed. Add whatever small items you can find, such as a screw, jingle bell, rubber band, piece of macaroni, button, needle, bead, screw, paper clip, penny, marble, pop tab, etc. Put 20 items in the jar. Fill with bird seed, leaving a space at the top for the seed to move around. To prevent people from opening the lid, you can add some glue to the threads of the lid, and then screw it onto the jar. Keep a list of the items you put into the jar because it's almost guaranteed that the person you give it to will not find them all! Tape this poem to a tag attached to the bottle:
Treasure Hunt Bottle
Some pirates got it all mixed up, and did things wrong way 'round.
They put the treasure in a bottle, and buried the map in the ground!
Their treasure was some silly stuff, like needles, screws and beads.
Then dear old Polly Parrot added all her extra seeds!
So find the twenty items here, no two are quite the same.
Don't open up the bottle though, as that would break the game!
5. Alphabet Bottle: Fill a small plastic bottle with corn syrup, colorful letter confetti and some marbles. I use duct tape to make sure the cap stays on. The marbles add interest and break apart the letters if they clump together. Identify or write the letters you see.
6. Muddy Bottle: Put 1/2 cup dirt in the bottom of a bottle, and fill it with water. Let the children shake it up and watch the dirt settle. (Try using gravel, peat moss, clay, and different types of soil.) Collect soil samples from different states or countries and make muddy bottle from them. Label the bottles so the children can compare the soil found in different areas.
7. Bubble Bottle: Add 1 cup of water, a squirt of dish detergent, and 2 drops of food coloring to the bottle. Shake to make bubbles.
8. Sound Bottles: Put beans, popcorn kernels, and rice in different bottles. Stick each bottle inside an old sock. Let the children shake and guess what is in the bottles.
9. Stress Bottle: Pour 1/2 cup clear corn syrup in a bottle. Add glitter, sequins, or small toys. The children can hold the bottle and slowly turn it around. This will help them focus and relax.
10. Serration Bottles: Take four or five bottles and add different amounts of water in each one, from empty to full. Mix the bottles up, then let the children seriate them from empty to full.
11. Classmates Bottles: Put the small (1 inch size) pictures of your class that you usually get from the school photographer in a bottle. Let the children shake the bottle to
find their own picture or to find others' pictures and name the students in
the class. Have a name chart handy to find the matching name. Students enjoy writing the names of their classmates as well.
12. Rust Bottle: Add screws bolts or nails to an empty bottle. Fill the bottle
with water. Observe what happens, or track how many days the rust developed.
13. Alphabet Bottles: Make one bottle for each alphabet letter. Fill with small objects and toys such as:
Aa- acorns, plastic ants, mini apple erasers, mini astronaut figure.
Bb- buttons, band-aids, balloons, battery, and mini bear figure, brushes, boats, buses.
Cc-coins, cars, cow, cats, camel figures, candy, crayons.
Dd- dogs, ducks, dinosaurs, dollar bill, doll dresses, dominoes, dice
Ee-erasers, eggs, elephant (or just an empty bottle)
Ff-feathers, flags, plastic flowers, fish, mini footballs, toy firemen
Gg-sticks of gum, anything green in color, golf tee, grass, artificial grapes
Hh- hearts, happy faces, horses, hangers from doll clothes, toy hammer
Ii- ice cream, picture of an igloo, small plastic insects, ivy, iguana
Jj-jacks, jelly beans, mini jeep figure, jewelry
Kk- keys, king of hearts playing card, kites, mini kitten, koala, kangaroo, Kix cereal
Ll-leaf, lace, letters, lima beans, licorice, lollipops, ladybug , lamb, lion, lizards
Mm-macaroni, mini marshmallows, money, magnets, marbles, mice
Nn- noodles, nails, nuts, nickels, piece of newspaper, numbers, necklace
Oo- octopus, ocean animal figures, oval cut out shape, olives
Pp- penguins, pencil, popcorn, peanuts, paper clips, pretzels, pennies, puzzle pieces, paper, pipe cleaner, price tag
Qq-quarters, queen of hearts playing card, picture of a quilt, Q-tip, quilt pieces
Rr- racecars, rabbits, rocks, rings, piece of rope, ribbon and rice
Ss- straws, spaghetti, stamps, sponges, screws, numbers 6 and 7, spiders, squares
Tt-teabag, toothpicks, turtles, tigers, tires, number 2, tape, number 10, triangles
Uu- umbrella, unicorn, mini map of the United States
Vv- violets, vans, volcano, velvet
Ww- whales, wheel pasta, whistle, watch, wood, wire, walnut, wallpaper scraps
Xx-(I use the final /x/ consonant sound) number 6, picture of an ox and a fox
Yy-anything yellow in color, yarn,
Z-ziti, zipper, zebra
14. Rain Bottle: Fill a dry empty bottle with a box of toothpicks. Add rice (uncooked) to the bottle leaving an empty space of about 1 1/2 inches at the top. Seal the lid. As you gently turn the bottle, the rice falls through the toothpicks, sounding like rain.
15. Mold Bottle: Add a piece of food such as bread to the bottom of a bottle. Seal the lid. Observe and record what happens in the days to come! Remember to keep this bottle for only a couple of weeks!
16. Sprout Bottle: Add a piece of wet sponge to the bottom of the bottle. Sprinkle fast growing seeds such as grass seeds. Seal the lid, and observe what happens!
17. Snow or Ice Bottle: Fill half full of snow or ice. Seal the lid. Record what happens as the hours or days go by.
18. I Spy Bottles: Add trinkets such as Barbie shoes, small legos, balls, pictures, and other small toys. Then fill 2/3 with rice. You can dye the rice beforehand using 1 part rubbing alcohol to 1 part food coloring. Tape a list to the side of the things that should be in the bottle and encourage children to find them all. This could be used for writing exercises as your child would write down what they've found. For young ones just finding things is enough. You can create a different one of these by coloring large alphabet pasta, add the seed, and play what word can we create from the letters we see (sort of like Boggle).
19. Classification Bottles: In empty bottles add objects that belong together in a group. For example: but toy animals in one bottle, miniature food in another. Students have to classify the bottles by their characteristics.
20. Counting Bottles: These are nice to keep handy. Make a bottle for counting by 10 to 100. For example, one bottle would have ten objects, the next 20, the next, 30, etc. I like to fill the bottles with clear karo syrup so the objects float, making them easier to count.
Discovery Bottles#1 was submitted in 1999. The ideas above came from the email I have received and the ideas of my students.