Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#422. Discovery Bottles

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Jun 10 19:46:24 PDT 1998 by Janet Bowland (
Scarbro Elementary School, Oak Hill, West Virginia
Materials Required: Clean, empty, dry plastic soad or water bottles
Activity Time: As long as children are interested
Concepts Taught: discovery, observations, predictabilty,

Discovery Bottles
Discovery bottles encourage the development of observation skills, predictability, scientific concepts, and thinking skills. Once made and placed in plastic carrying bins, they make a great center activity that is inexpensive, and fun!
Place any of the following items in a clear plastic soda or water bottle. Seal the lid with a glue gun, or tape with colored plastic tape.
(1) Wave Bottle Fill half of the bottle with cooking oil, add water to fill the bottle 3/4 of the way. Add blue food coloring, and seal the lid with glue. As you turn the bottle on its side, the waves roll gently.
(2) Desert Bottle Add small plastic desert animals such as lizards, snakes, etc. to an empty bottle. Fill 2/3 of bottle with sand. As children turn or shake the bottle, they can see animals that live on the desert. This is a great activity for visual discrimination.
(3) Magnetic Bottle#1 Fill bottle with small items that can be picked up by a magnet, and objects that cannot be picked up by a magnet. Seal the bottle. Attach a magnet to the top of the bottle by tying one end of yarn around the magnet, and the other to the bottle. Children discover what items are attracted to the magnet, and which are not, by rubbing the magnet along the sides of the bottle. Children can record, or draw pictures to record their observations.
(4) Magnetic Bottle #2 In the party shop at K-Mart, I found bingo materials. Packages come with a magnetic bingo wand, and colored magnetic discs. Add about 20 magnetic bingo chips to a bottle filled with water. Attach the magnetic bingo wand to the top of the bottle by using yarn. Children will enjoyed seeing how many discs they can pick up with the magnet, and enjoy watching them float to the bottle.
(5) Magnetic Bottle #3 Add magnetic numbers, or shapes, or letters to a bottle. Attach a magnetic wand to the bottle top, using yarn. Children name, write, or draw what they pick up with their magnets.
(6) Magnetic Bottle #4 Add magnetic objects to a bottle, and fill the bottle with salt. Attach a magnetic wand to the outside of the bottle using yarn. Children run the magnets along the side of the bottle, and are surprised to find what is hiding under the sand.
(7) Dice Bottle Drop dice into the bottle; do not fill the bottle with water. Children shake the bottle, and choose from any of these activities name the number on the dice, count out that many objects, name the number that comes before or after, write the number, predict what number will come next.
(8) Seasonal Bottles Fill an empty bottle with objects found in the fall. Example: fall leaves, acorns or nuts, small pumpkins or gourds, dried apples, turkey feathers, etc. Children enjoy looking and naming the objects found. Make new bottles for other seasons.
(9) Density Bottle #! Fill an empty bottle with hair gel (lots of colors are available) Add a marble. Children discover the properties of density as they turn the bottle.
(10)Density Bottle # 2 Fill an empty bottle with shampoo. Add a marble.
(11)Dirt Bottle Add dirt to a bottle, and fill half of the bottle with water. See what happens when you shake the bottles! It is fun to collect a variety of soil samples from other places around the country.
(12)Clay Bottle Add clay (the clay from the yard, not play-dough)
Fill with water, and observe what happens when you shake the bottle and the clay reacts with the water.
(13)Sand Bottle Fill the bottom of a bottle with sand. Add water, to shake and see what happens when you shake the bottle. For a variation, add colored sand and water to a bottle.
(14)Glitter Bottle (my favorite) Fill a bottle half full with colored glitter, add water to the top of the bottle. Shake and see what happens, (very neat after the water has settled)
(15)Relaxation Bottle Add a small package of colored or holiday confetti to the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle with Karo Syrup. It is a very relaxing experience to watch the glitter float and flutter as you gently turn the bottle.
(16)Magnetic Shavings Remember the boards we had as a child where you could put a beard or hair on Harry, by moving a magnetic through magnetic shavings? This works on the same principle. Fill the bottle with magnetic shavings. Attach a magnet to the top of the bottle with yarn. Observe the shavings movement through the bottle as you rub the magnetic wand over the side of the bottle.
(17)Potpourri Bottle. Cut a small hole into the side of the bottle; attach netting with clear plastic tape, over the hole. Fill the bottle with potpourri in flavors such as orange, vanilla, pine, gingerbread, roses, etc. Children describe the scent, or what the scent reminds them of.
(18)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.
(19)Glow in the Dark Bottle Add small glow in the dark items such as stars to a bottle. Do not add any water. Children can put the bottle under a box, and look through a hole to observe what happens when the bottle is placed in the dark. Or they can take the bottle to a darkened room, or under a table covered with a sheet.
(20)Crayon Shavings Bottle Fill the bottle half full with crayon shavings; fill the bottle with water. Shake and observe what happens.
(21)Float or Sink Bottle. Place a variety of objects in a bottle, some that will float, and some that will not. Fill the bottle with water. As children shake the bottle, they can observe what items float, and what items sink.
(22)Estimation Bottle Fill the bottle with a variety of small objects such as beans, nuts, rocks, etc. Children record their guestimations on a tablet that has been placed beside the bottle. At the end of the week, open the bottle and count! Discuss the predications. Send the bottle home with the winner, and have them empty the bottle, and fill with objects for next week's bottle.
Please share with me any other bottle activities you have created!
Jan K/WV E- mail