On a recent trip to the library my oldest daughter discovered their collection of homemade I-Spy jars and happily shook and rolled away a morning. She had so much fun I knew I needed to make one for us. The materials are simple and abundant in a house with young kids - an empty clear plastic container, rice, and some small items. I was happy to put to use the numerous small items my daughter A keeps in in a bucket and calls her collections - rocks, shells, buttons, washers, coins, small plastic animals, jewels, paper clips, marbles, scraps of paper... well the list is pretty much endless.
Make sure the jar is clean and dry and remove any labels, take a picture of your small items and then place in the jar and partially fill with rice.The more rice in the jar the harder it is to find the items, conversely the less rice the easier they are to find. We liked slightly over 3/4 full. I used some colored rice I had from a sensory box. If you would like to color your rice simply place in a large zip lock and put in a few drops of food coloring, close the bag and shake around. My girls love the shaking part. Keep adding food coloring until you get the shade you want then set the coloring by pouring a small splash (1/2 teaspoon) of rubbing alcohol in the bag.
The jar itself is a great quiet activity for a waiting room or long car ride. Print out the picture you took of all the items and the kids can try to find them. G is a little young for matching to the printed image, but she enjoys shaking the jar and telling me what she finds. For an older child you could ask them to tell you the color of the item, the first letter of the item or have them rhyme a word with the item. After I made our jar my husband told me he had seen a fun game at the store with an I-Spy jar - there were cards with an image of each item hidden in the jar and a timer - you would draw a card then see if you could find the item before the timer ran out. Once my girls tire of this jar we may try that.
Do you know any other games or learning activities to play with an I-Spy jar?