Sunday, November 22, 2009

“I Spy” Jar

The holidays are coming.  This week is Thanksgiving.  Can you believe it?  For a lot of people the holidays mean travel time.  Many people , including myself, take road trips instead of flying.  We do it because we carry too much junk with us that make it almost impossible to fly (car seats, luggage, portable crib, etc.).  No matter why you choose to do it, traveling with kids at any age can be stressful.  Here is a time passer for the kids.
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First you will need a jar.  I used a pickle jar because it was all I had, but a peanut butter jar works the best.  It is light and plastic, because who wants glass shards in their car?  Then you will need some bird seed.  The smaller the better.  We had a wild bird seed mix and it worked just fine.  Lastly, you will need some stuff.  Yeah, I know..stuff?  Could I be more specific?  Well, it can be anything.  I bought a bag of bug party favors at the dollar store.  You can use fun shaped erasers.  You can grab just random things around your house that are small (like a marble, an old key, a paper clip, etc.).  Anything small and easily recognizable will be perfect.
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Put a little bit of bird seed in the jar, then put a few items in.  Cover those items with more bird seed.  Put some more items in and cover those with bird seed, too.  Continue this process until the jar is almost full.  You will want to leave about an inch or two of empty space. 
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Give the jar to your kids in the car.  Ask them what they can find in the jar without opening it.  If you are doing this with curious young kids, I suggest gluing the lid on with hot glue or super glue.  You don’t want your car full of bird seed.  For older kids you can make a list of what you put in the jar and they will have to cross off the items as they find them.  It won’t take long for your kids to discover different ways to shake and turn the jar to show new items. 

This is a great learning tool as well.  Kids will have to learn to manipulate the jar to move the seeds how they would like.  It is physics and science at their best, but the kids don’t know it.  They just get caught up in the fun of finding the objects.  Try it.
What is the longest road trip you have ever taken?


  1. What a great idea - thanks for sharing! I'll definitely be making one of these - maybe it will keep my 2-yr-old busy while I nurse my new baby in a few weeks. :)

  2. I love this idea. My kids (3&4) are big fans of I spy. That is a tough game in a moving vehicle. I think I am going to try a "holiday" themed jar and use rice instead of bird seed and put in all red and green items and try to find some christmas shaped little treasures.............Thanks for another great project to keep my little hands and minds busy!

    Angie B.

  3. Ooooo...I love the idea of using rice! Why didn't I think of that? The rice would definitely make it easier on younger kids. The different colors of the bird seed make it a little more challenging. Great idea! Thanks for sharing it! That is what I love about sharing tips, you guys sharing them back.

  4. another great idea one that should occupy my nephews as well

  5. Love this idea, Kim! I made one of these for my son when he was younger, and used rice. It's definately alot easier for the little ones. Something else fun to add to the container is the small plastic alphabet and number magnets you can get at the dollar store!!

  6. I like the jar option much better than a bag! We made these for a church activity once, and the felt we used is wearing out! Holes are never good. I also like how easy it is to change out the items! You could change it out for every holiday, if you wanted!

    To answer your question, my longest road trip (almost entirely by myself, with a 4- and 2-year-old) was from Phoenix to Seattle and back.

  7. A friend has a homemade I Spy 'thing' that is sewn. She used clear plastic on the front and cute (thick - oil cloth?) fabric on the back. It's like a flat beanbag with one side that's see through. And she used white rice, so the objects are easier to see. :)

  8. I did something like this with sand in a bag. I like the jar idea better though. Thanks!

  9. My sister made one of these for her daughter and - call me slow - but I didn't really get it. Thanks for the explaination. I'm going to see what the kids can round up to put in one for us.

    San Diego to Michigan ... with a 10 month old and 3 year old. We have friends who just drove from Georgia to Alaska with their 1 year old. Yikes!

  10. This is a fabulous idea!!

    Jessica... I feel for you!! Good luck!

  11. Great idea! in 2 weeks we are travelling 6000km across Australia in 10 days with a 2.5 year old - another great idea to add to the mix!

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