How to Make an I Spy Jar

I spy with my little eye… a fun project that your toddler or preschooler will really get a kick out of! 

My family and I just got home from an extended weekend road trip to Ohio to celebrate a family birthday.  We stopped along the way in Pennsylvania to check out some of the sites but spent a ton of time in the car.  

Jen wrote a wonderful post recently with ideas on how to keep little ones occupied during long car trips which can be found here and Sarah B. has previously written about traveling with kids in her Wisdom Wednesday column.  Those posts can be found here and here if you are looking for some good traveling tips. 

I put together activity bags to keep my daughters occupied during the car ride and included handmade I spy jars together with coloring books, stickers, small chalkboards with chalk and eraser, cheerios and pipe cleaners, road trip scavenger hunt printed from, and a few other small toys and games. 

So what is an I Spy Jar?

It’s a look and find jar that is guaranteed to keep your small kids entertained for at least a few minutes.  This little gem doesn’t cost much to make and takes very little time to put together. 

The possibilities are endless.  Your kids will love to shake up these little jars to find the objects.  You can choose a theme or simply add a hodge podge of items for your children to search for.  You can use colored rice like I did but plain rice or sand would work just as well.  I chose red and blue because it was fourth of July weekend.  You could even combine colors to make rainbow rice if you have the extra time.  You can use baby food jars or spice jars or any other small containers that you have handy.  Plastic would work too if you are worried about the jar being breakable.

This is a simple project that any mom can tackle and makes for a fun, new, inexpensive toy for your tot. 

I picked up a variety of beads at the craft store and added beads with the letters of my daughters’ names in their jars.  A quick google search will yield loads of other ideas.  You could make an I spy alphabet jar with all the letters of the alphabet, a number jar, or a holiday-themed jar.  These could also make cute party favors!

You could even take pictures of the items contained in the jar so that the kids know what items to look for and then print a paper with pictures and/or words so that the kids can check off the items as they find them to make it more of a game. 

I surprised my daughters so they didn’t help make the jars but I bet they would have loved to help out and could have easily helped me count out the beads and add the items to the jars.

Coloring rice takes only a few minutes and any extra rice can be used for sensory play.  Simply add 1 cup of rice, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and the desired amount of food coloring to a zip loc bag and shake.  Once the rice is covered evenly with the vinegar and coloring mixture, spread the rice on waxed paper lined baking sheets or pans to dry. 

colored rice

Once the rice dries, it’s as simple as adding the rice and beads to the jars and securing the lid with a hot glue gun.

Here’s the finished project:

I Spy Jars

 Happy crafting!

5 thoughts on “How to Make an I Spy Jar

  1. I love that you advertised it as keeping your kids entertained, “for at least a few minutes.” Wow! What a ringing endorsement!! 😛 Just kidding, I know that in the life of a toddler (and their mother), a few minutes of silence is PRECIOUS. Love this idea and am definitely going to check it out. And thanks for the mention!


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