Discovery Bottles (K – O)

Discovery Bottles K - O by Teach Preschool

K is for kid-friendly Toys

You can fill a discovery bottle with any kind of kid-friendly toy but you have to look for items that are small enough to fit into the opening of your bottle.  Often times, you can find small items in the party supply section of a store…

A to Z Toys for the Discovery Bottle by Teach Preschool

Above is an alphabetical list of store-bought type of kid toys or kid-friendly materials that can usually be found in some type of mini-form and will work well for play and exploration (some items you may want to add water or other type of liquid and for others, you may not)…

Lick photo to see these kid-friendly Items by Growing a Jeweled Rose

Click photo to see these kid-friendly Items by Growing a Jeweled Rose

L is for light

Discovery bottles are always better to observe on a light table or in a window. I always keep a set of discovery bottles near my light table…

Discovery Bottles on the Light Table by Teach Preschool

The light table has a way of capturing the children’s attention to new properties of the discovery bottles. The children will often take more time to notice color, movement, bubbles, and other qualities of the discovery bottle when they can view it on the light table.

Light Table Discovery Bottles by Teach Preschool

Hop over to see the Lava Lamp for kids sensory play by Cathy at the BabyCentre Blog

M is for Magnifier

Be sure to add other tools for play to your discovery bottles that invite additional types of play and exploration. Items like a magnifying glasses (for closed bottles), tweezers (for open bottles),  scales, clip board and pencils, and anything else you can think of that invites the children to go past the obvious and will bring a new dimension of play with the bottles….

Magnify the Discovery by Teach Preschool

and M is for Magnetic

Another fun way to add a new dimension of play to the discovery bottle is by adding magnets and magnet wands.  In this discovery bottle are pipe cleaners. The wire in a pipe cleaner is magnetic although you will want to keep the weight of the pipe cleaner very light so the magnetic wand can easily pick it up and move it in the bottle…

Magnetic Discovery in a Bottle by Teach Preschool

See this Magnetic Pumpkin discovery bottle by Child Central Station

N is for Nature

Don’t overlook the many wonderful items from nature that can be added to a discovery bottle. Think of the discovery bottle as a hands-on aquarium or terrarium that young children can hold, shake, and examine….

Nature Discovery Bottles by Teach Preschool

Again, the items from nature you choose to place in the bottle may go well with or without water. It all depends on the items but since this is all about exploration, I say just go for it and see what happens…

A-Z Nature Items for Discovery by Teach Preschool

O is for Oil

Oil is often used in liquid discovery bottles because of the way water and oil separate. Here are a few things to consider when adding oil to your discovery bottle…

  • Baby oil is clear and I like to use it over other oils like cooking oil. But all oils will separate from the water.
  • If you add color, the color will not mix with your oil, it will mix with your water.
  • It is better to have more oil than water in your bottle if you are wanting the colored water to wash down through the oil.
  • The water will always sink to the bottom of the bottle and the oil will always end up on top of the water.

Oil and Water

Ocean in a Bottle

Click the Photo to Read More about this Ocean in a Bottle from Two Big Two Little

Click the Photo to Read More about this Ocean in a Bottle from 2 Big 2 Little

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 Mom’s Tips and Tricks by my fellow bloggers (shown below)


By |2013-01-13T18:09:11+00:00January 13th, 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. Trisha January 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Wow! I wish I had your brain! 🙂 This is so great…thank you. I’ve been looking for something additional and sciency/exploration to use with teaching letters. Perfect!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Haha – I am glad you have found something new to inspire you Trisha!

  2. Rebecca January 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I would like to make these type of bottles one day, but I’m nervous about the slim chance of leaking. 99% I use plastic bottles it’s fine, but a couple of times water has leaked before, and I would not want that to happen with it full of glitter, coloring and/or oil in it.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 13, 2013 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      My suggestion to you then is to start with one bottle and try it out or start with bottles that don’t have any liquid in them. Keep in mind, a water bottle made from good quality plastic manages to make it from the manufacturer to the grocery store to your home without leaking so perhaps it can make it into your classroom too! Just use a good quality bottle and hot glue the lid on securely. But in any case, the only way you will know for sure is to try it out:)

    • Heather January 14, 2013 at 6:36 am - Reply

      Go for it. The leak becomes a new science of tidy up (oil makes floors slippery, dish soap cuts the oil…). We survived our “flood” and made a new bottle together after cleaning up).

  3. Shaunna @ Fantastic Fun and Learning January 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    This series has been so detailed. I am loving all of the great information, especially the A to Z lists in this post. I haven’t tried discovery bottles yet, but now I have no excuse not to get started! Thanks for putting this together.

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