Simple child made discovery bottles

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Embrace the creativity of your children with this fun child-led process!

I love to keep a broad selection of discovery bottles in my outdoor classroom. They add color to the room and they naturally invite my students to pick them up for play and exploration. My students enjoy making their own discovery bottles, too, only their version is a little more simple than the ones they find sitting around the window sill of my outdoor classroom…

Preparing the Materials

I collect a lot of different shapes and sizes of clear plastic bottles all throughout the school year. I keep them in large plastic ziplock bags by type or size so when I need a set, I can easily find a matching set with lids ready to go…

Some of the bottles I collect require me to remove the sticky residue off the bottle left by the label and others I collect have a nice label that slips right off the bottle. So naturally, I pay attention to which kinds of bottle I collect because taking the sticky residue off lots of bottles takes time and can be a pain to deal with. The bottles shown above and below still had some sticky left along one side of them so my students thought it was pretty cool to stick the bottles together! But usually, I take the time to remove all the sticky…

Once I have a set of bottles (enough for each child to have one of his or her own) then I set them out for the children to make their own discovery bottles along with the supplies they will need…

The two types of discovery bottles I am sharing today include a yarn discovery bottle and a bug discovery bottle…

Beginning the Process

In both cases, the focus for my students was on the process of filling their bottles. For the yarn discovery bottle, the children had to select the colors of yarn they liked, cut it into a variety of lengths, and drop it down into the bottles until they had the amount of yarn they desired for their bottles…

Using Trial and Error

For the bug discovery bottle, I set out lots of bugs from the Dollar store. The children were invited to choose one or two of their favorite bugs from around the classroom and drop them into a bottle.  The challenge was to squeeze the bugs so they would fit into the skinny opening of the bottle. There was some trial and error in the process as not every bug was squeezable enough to fit into the bottles so the children had to keep looking until they could find bugs that would work…

Building Fine Motor Skills

In every discovery bottle we make, the children spend time making choices about the items they will add to their discovery bottles or the amount of items they will add. They also use fine motor skills to put the items in their bottles and have to follow a few steps to complete their discovery bottles…

For almost every discovery bottle the children make, they complete their bottles by adding water to them.  In our outdoor classroom, fresh water is available in a bucket for the children to fill up their bottles. In our indoor classroom, the children simply go to the sink and fill their bottles up with water..

My students love making their own discovery bottles even if all we use is water to complete them. I save the more elaborate discovery bottles that have oil and food color and all the other more messy ingredients either for a special discovery bottle project or for the bottles I make and keep around the classroom…

Exploring with Discovery Bottles

Here are the classroom bug discovery bottles that I made with 3/4 baby oil, 1/4 colored water, and a few bugs. The lids are hot glued in place so the bottles can’t be opened.  I do not glue the lids on our kid-made water-filled discovery bottles…

Why we Love this Process

In the end, the children spend time looking through their bottles and noticing the small details about the items they put in them and how the items move in the water. The process involves a variety of skills from pouring water into a small opening, squeezing objects to fit into the bottles, and making decisions about what to put in the bottles. The process is somewhat an expression of art and science as the children create something beautiful while at the same time explore the flow of their objects in the water…

So there is my very long explanation of a very simple child-made discovery bottle. Gather your bottles, a variety of materials (can be small toys or even items from nature) that the children can cut, squeeze, or somehow fit inside them, and let the children add water! It is such a meaningful process that embraces the natural creativity of children.

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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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