ABC’s of Discovery Bottles (A – E)

Discovery Bottles A - E

A is for About the discovery bottle series and Acorns, Apples, and Alphabet

This series on discovery bottles is to…

  • Introduce you to the interesting world of discovery bottles and the discovery bottle experience.
  • Share examples of discovery bottles that I have made as well as some made by my fellow bloggers.
  • Share different ways discovery bottles can be used in the classroom or at home.

Each letter of this series will include a small tip or observation about discovery bottles as well as a few examples of discovery bottles that you can try making for your own collection. I hope you will stay with me through this entire series on discovery bottles and along the way, discover a few fun and fresh ideas that will inspire your own creativity and use of discovery bottles.

Acorn Discovery Bottle

Click on photo to read more about making this acorn discovery bottle!

Apple Bottles

Click the photo to read more on the seek and find alphabet discovery bottle!

Click the photo to read more on the seek and find alphabet discovery bottle!

B is for Bottles and baby and beach

Choosing the kind of bottles you would like to use is one of the first steps in successfully creating your own discovery bottles. When choosing a bottle for your own collection, consider the following…

  • For young children, good sturdy plastic bottles are better than glass so the bottles can be dropped, shaken, rolled, and played with without the worry of a broken bottle at the end of a play experience.
  • Smaller plastic bottles will be more manageable for small hands and not so heavy.
  • There is a difference in quality when it comes to the type of bottle you choose.  For some discovery bottles, you may wish to find a better made or higher quality bottle. It all depends on how long you hope to keep the bottle and what kind of material you wish to put in the bottle.

I almost exclusively use water bottles with good fitting lids for all my discovery bottles but I have become more picky about the kinds of water bottles that I like to use….

Water Bottles by Teach Preschool

Sometimes, I choose based on the shape and size of the bottle and other times I choose based on the quality of the bottle and sometimes even the label of the bottle makes a difference.  For example, if a label is very hard to remove from the bottle, then I start to avoid that type of bottle for future reference. My favorite water bottles are…

  • Voss water bottles (most expensive, top quality, has a great lid): I rarely use these because of price and availability but when I do get them, I keep them forever.
  • Fiji water bottles (comes in different sizes but all are tall,square and skinny): Very clear and strong but the label is tough to get off.
  • Aqua Pod water bottles (short and round): Easy to remove label and easy for small hands to hold.
  • Aquafina bottles (cheaper): Great for adding to the water table , sensory table, discovery center, or art center for free play and the children’s own collections or creations of discovery bottles but not very thick plastic.
Click the photo to read "Babys First Biscovery Bottles" by the Imagination Tree

Babys first discovery bottles by the Imagination Tree

Click on this photo to read more about making a beach discovery bottle!

Click on this photo to read more about making a beach discovery bottle!

C is for creativity and color and collage

Discovery bottles can be a wonderful way to promote creative thinking and the creative process. It is easy to get into the rut of thinking that you need to make discovery bottles for the children rather than with the children but let me encourage you to keep a collection of empty bottles around for your children to explore and create with on their own. You might just be surprised what they will come up with.

Click photo to read more on these beautiful Color Discovery Bottles by Everything and Nothing blog.

Click photo to read more about these beautiful Color Discovery Bottles !

Construction Paper Collage Discovery Bottle

Click on photo to read more about making creative collage discovery bottles.

D is for discovery

Discovery bottles are also a wonderful way to invite the discovery of a child’s world.  Think of each bottle as a way to take a closer look at the finer details of the things that, as adults, we tend to overlook in our world. A discovery bottle is like an aquarium filled with hidden treasures to be explored or a window into a world designed to capture a child’s interest and interest and to invite conversation, movement, examination, and exploration. Consider offering a discovery center so the children can make their own discovery bottles too…

Acorn Discovery Center

E is for easy and earth

Discovery bottles don’t have to be complicated to put together or filled with complicated materials in order for them to be interesting to your students. When making discovery bottles, or when your students make them, consider what the purpose of the discovery bottle will be. Will it be to collect something from nature or to promote the fine motor skill of putting small items in the bottle?  Depending on how you plan to use the discovery bottle or why you plan to create a discovery bottle, the process can be easy.

Earth Discovery Bottle

Come back tomorrow for more tips and examples of discovery bottles or hop on over the the ABC’s of Discovery Bottles landing page!

More ABC’s…


Be sure to check out the ABC’s of Learning Through Play posts by my fellow bloggers (shown below)



By |2013-01-07T06:00:47+00:00January 7th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Cassie @ 3 Dinosaurs January 7, 2013 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I have done any of these yet with my girls. I think I will be doing some soon!

  2. crystal @ Growing A Jeweled Rose January 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    WOW! These are all so fun! I can’t wait to see the rest of the series!

  3. Julie Locke January 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    What a good resource to know what the best bottles are. One thing I also really appreciate in a bottle is if the label comes off clean with no remaining pieces and doesn’t leave any sticky residue behind. It can be hard for preschoolers to discover with a bottle if they can’t get it off of their hands!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 8, 2013 at 12:33 am - Reply

      I agree, the sticky residue left on bottles makes the bottle look dirty too! I will spend extra time trying to get all the sticky off the bottle when I have to but I love it when I can find a bottle where the label slips right off!

      • Mieander February 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

        I’ve been using kid’s milk bottles from Wendy’s and a few other fast food places-they are small, sturdy, and the lids are perfect. The label is a plastic wrap that is easy to cut off. It just takes me a long time to collect these since we seldom eat out. Mc D’s bottles are opaque-no good.

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        Oooh, looks like I need to start buying my milk from Wendy’s!

      • Michele April 10, 2013 at 8:02 am

        If you rub vegetable oil on the sticky residue and leave it sit overnight, the residue will rub off. Works on even the toughest glue including peanut butter jars which are great for storing craft items.

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm

        And another great tip Michelle!

    • caroline April 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      tennis ball cans work great 🙂

  4. Michele April 10, 2013 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I teach children with Autism and they love discovery and sensory bottles. Voss are also my favorite but I agree they can be expensive and the large ones are heavy once filled. However, Walgreens has a 16.9 oz VOSS bottle (which I personally have never seen before) ON SALE THIS WEEK 4/7/13 – 4/13/13, 4 for $5. Still a bit much for water but if your bottle get used as much as mine, WORTH IT!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. April 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Great Tip Michelle!

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