Put your favorite children’s book in a discovery bottle!

Ignite the senses while exploring literacy in your classroom!

I am joining a few of my fellow bloggers today to bring you some new ideas for making Affordable and Amazing Discovery Bottles!

I have been making a new collection of discovery bottles this year which I call Literacy Discovery Bottles. I consider this set of discovery bottles amazing in that they are a fun way to extend a favorite children’s book in the classroom. They are affordable in that you can use simple toys or items you have around the classroom or house to make your own set of bottles.

Rather than telling you how to make a discovery bottle, I will just give you a few examples of the literacy discovery bottles I have made so that you can get the idea and then head off to choose your own favorite books to bottle up!

Discovery Bottle Inspiration

For each literacy discovery bottle I have made, I simply looked around for a few small objects that represent an idea, character, or object from a book we have read in class. After reading Elmer, for example, I added a few colorful square blocks that I had on hand. This set of small blocks have always reminded me of the colors and squares in Elmer’s patchwork coat. I also added a small toy elephant to the bottle.

Preparing the Discovery Bottles

For each of my literacy discovery bottles, I used Voss plastic water bottles and I rotated only four liquid ingredients in each of my bottles – water, baby oil, a drop of dish soap, and/or food color. Although I like the objects to move around in unusual ways in the bottles, where possible, I mostly wanted the focus to be on the objects and the story the objects remind the children of. My Elmer the Elephant Discovery bottle is filled with water only.

Exploring the Discovery Bottles

While reading Elmer to the children, the children passed the Elmer Discovery Bottle around the circle. The child holding the discovery bottle sat quietly and moved Elmer and his colorful blocks up and down the bottle as I read a page in our book.

When I turned to read a new page of the book, the bottle was passed to the next child for his or her turn to move the bottle. Often times, discovery bottles (with glitter and oil) are also referred to as “calming bottles” because the glitter slowly makes its way from one end to the other end of the bottle. I will say that the children enjoyed slowly watching the blocks drift up and down the bottle and it made for a very calming read-aloud experience too…

I don’t just use my literacy discovery bottles in circle time. In fact, I often will introduce the bottle to the children after reading our book and then leave it sitting on a shelf by or near the book somewhere in the classroom. The goal is to invite the children to explore the bottles anytime they like and for the bottles to remind the children of the books we have read or to inspire the children to talk about the stories or even retell the stories in their own words.

More Discovery Bottle Ideas

Following are a few examples of favorite books I have read this year in my classroom or at home with my grandson along with the literacy bottles I have made to go with each book…

Stick and Stone by Tom Lichtenheld 

Inside the bottle: A Stick and a Stone and Water (with a touch of Dawn soap to represent the ocean bubbles).

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Buskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

Inside the bottle: A toy construction truck and an orange work zone cone, rocks, water, and a touch of blue food color (I need to add a few stars). The construction truck moves the rocks around the bottle.

The Mixed-Up Chameleon By Eric Carle

Inside the bottle: water, baby oil, red food color, a toy chameleon and a toy fly. The chameleon can’t eat the fly no matter which way you turn the bottle. This bottle dropped just right one day and the lid broke. The middle part of the lid is still in tact and it doesn’t leak so the kids just move the broken ring of the lid out of the way until I have a chance to replace the entire lid.

Dinosaur Farm By Frann Preston-Gannon

Inside the bottle: Baby oil, a toy tractor and a couple of toy dinosaurs.

These are just a few of the many different Literacy Discovery Bottles I have sitting around my classroom. I would really like to make a bottle to go with every one of my favorite books! I am sure you will be able to come up with some great ideas for your favorite books too!

The Grouchy Ladybug By Eric Carle

Inside the bottle: lady bug buttons, baby oil, water, and a stick.

Now be sure to check out the links below for more Affordable and Amazing discovery bottles

Magic Two Ingredient Sensory Bottle | Preschool Inspirations

Suspended Beads Dollar Tree Discovery Bottle | Fun at Home with Kids

Weighted Discovery Bottles | Play to Learn Preschool

Marble Color Mixing Discovery Bottle | Still Playing School

Beaded Names Discovery Bottle | Stay At Home Educator

Available on Amazon

Picture of 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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