Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lookie Loos

Thought I'd share one of my favorite "toys" to make at home. When my son was in day care as a baby, the workers would amuse the little ones with water bottles that they filled with water, a scoop of glitter, and a drop of food coloring. Rolled across a floor or held up close, the babies LOVED those bottles.

Fast forward a few years. While nosing through a toy store I discovered the same water bottles, only this time filled with rice and little trinkets - and wearing an impressive price tag. Still enchanting, but on an older level. "But it's rice and plastic stuff that I constantly find in the laundry!" I thought. True, some of the trinkets were pretty cool, and some of the rice was colored, but I was undaunted.

The first attempt at what I call "Lookie Loos" consisted of anything that fit into the neck of a water bottle and plain rice. It was a big hit at our house. As my son said when showing one to his dad "It's a scavenger hunt in your hand!". So while cleaning up the detritus of our existence recently, I compiled a little group of tiny treasures and thought "Lookie Loo time!".

Here's what I did:

Start with a bunch of fun little things and a dry, empty water bottle. I had a definite blue/yellow thing going so I ran with that. Buttons, rubber bands, pom poms, office supplies, toothpicks, and legos are all great low-cost fillers.

Note : at this point make a list of what you have before you add you rice. It is really hard to figure it all out after the rice is added. Pictures instead of words might be appreciated for the pre-readers.

Assemble your rice (or fine sand works, too). If you want to color the rice, add several drops of food coloring to a plastic baggie with a couple of tablespoons of alcohol. Add the rice, seal, and squish until the rice is coated. The more coloring you add and the more marinating time you allow, the brighter your finished product will be. Let it marinate for an hour (or several) and then spread out on a cookie sheet to dry. You might want to dry it outside so no ugly accidents happen with the food-colored rice and to keep your house from smelling too medicinal from the alcohol. Here are the colors of rice I made

Put the trinkets in the bottle.

Add the rice (funnels work great).

Leave a bit of headroom so there is room for the treasures to be revealed.

Slap on a label. I added colored fonts and highlights to match the color of the item to be located. Use what works for you. A digital picture of the loot taped to the side would be really neat.

Seal the top (super glue, packing tape, or both depending on your audience).

Spin, look, find, giggle, roll - have fun!

P.S. If you make one - send a link in your comment. Can't wait to see what you put in your bottles!


At 4:19 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

this is a very, very neat idea! I can't wait to try it!

At 10:33 AM, Blogger Kara said...

Longtime reader, first-time commenter here. Just wanted to say that this is a great toy! My niece is almost old enough for one so I'd better start gathering trinkets. :)


At 10:36 AM, Anonymous jennifer13 said...

Saw this at Kiddley, thanks for the great idea! What I learned: If you want to put a key in your bottle, make sure it fits through the opening first so you don't have to photoshop your new key into your contents picture.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Pam said...

I'm making two of these for my nephew and a friend's son (pre-readers so I laminated digital pictures).They're almost done. Just waiting for the rice to dry out. Great Christmas idea.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger All shades of Purple said...

I saw this at Kiddley and for Christmas I'm making one for my daughter and another for my nephew. I'll try to set you up with some pictures when I finish them. It is such a cute idea! Do you know how to make the liquid ones you mentioned for babies? My daughter had one that seemed part oil when she was younger and now I'd like to make one for my 5 month old niece since her brother is going to get the Lookie Loo. Thanks for the great gift idea!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I love this and wish I had had one on hand for our last car trip. I've actually been coveting a bean bag version at a local toy store. It has a see through window and instead of trinkets it has letter of the alphabet.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Abby said...

I'm at the beach today (Outer Banks) and think I will make one with souveniers from beach combing. So far I have beach glass, shells of course, and a fishing lure. By the way, I saw your blog linked from belladia.typepad.com (somewhere in oregon) and was suprised to see you are in Ashland, VA. I live in Richmond and my daughter goes to Randolph Macon. The blogosphere is a small place!!

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