Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Scavenger Hunt in a Bottle!

I am a sucker for those old "I Spy" picture books. You know the ones, right? I have always found them fascinating, and now that I'm an adult I realize that whoever created those things is an absolute genius. I mean, seriously. They found a way to make big bucks off of arranging and photographing junk and knick knacks. I would love to have that job! Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking away from what they do. It's the way that they are able to set a scene that totally sucks me in, and certainly not everyone could do that. It takes a really special kind of talent to be a...junk arranger.  :)

But as much as I would love the job, I'm not so sure that I posses that really special kind of talent myself. I can, however, throw a bunch of odds and ends into a bottle and shake them up! Woot! And that's about all you need to know to make a fun little game for your kids - a scavenger hunt in a bottle!

I have seen similar things being sold on Etsy which I thought were really cute and a great idea. Most of the crafty mamas on that site make their games out of bean bags and fancy beads. But I'm on a budget, and I think a good 'ole plastic bottle works just as well. The idea is that you gather, oh, about ten small items that you can slip inside of a rice-filled bottle, which become like hidden treasures for seeking little eyes to find. There are ways to make the game more or less challenging, but we'll get to that later. First, let's see how to assemble one of these scavenger hunt games ourselves!

The supplies you will need are:
One clear plastic bottle (I used a water bottle.)
One bag of rice (I only had brown, but I bet white rice would work even better!)
White vinegar
Food coloring
Measuring Cup
Ziptop bags
Several paper plates (Or newspaper)
Hot Glue

First things first: you'll want to empty your bottle and rinse it out if need be so that it can be nice and dry when you're ready to fill it up. I turned mine upside down on a paper towel while it dried. 

The next step is to color your rice, if you so choose. I think you should. :) It's much cuter that way! I found my instructions for coloring rice HERE. Unfortunately, I didn't reread the instructions before I started, so I don't think my colored rice turned out as good as it could have. But you can learn from my mistakes!

The instructions call for mixing each color with 1/4 cup of white vinegar. I found this to be too much liquid, and used slightly less than that. Drop as much food coloring as you like into the vinegar to reach your desired colors. I used a little more coloring than the instructions called for.

Divide your supply of rice by how many colors you would like to use. I used four colors for my scavenger hunt, so I divided my rice into fourths. Add your first food color mixture into your divided bag of rice.

Shake it up until all of your rice is coated. Then let it sit for about five minutes. You can move on to the next color while these are sitting. This is where I messed up. I totally forgot the step about letting it sit before taking it out of the bag. My colors probably didn't turn out as vibrantly as they could have been because of this missed step. So hopefully you'll get even better results than me!

Once your rice is set, pour it out onto paper plates (or newspaper) and let it dry. This part is going to take a while. (Thirty minutes my foot!) Periodically I went by and raked through the rice with a fork to make sure all of the sides were being upturned in the *hopes* that it would speed up the process a bit. It's probably best to just let it set overnight. I let mine sit out all day (about nine hours) and it was still a teeny tiny bit wet when I added it into my bottle.

While your rice is drying, this is a perfect time to do a little scavenger hunting yourself! Look around your house for little trinkets that you can put inside of your bottle. Make sure that the various items can fit through the top! I used a red marble, a monopoly hotel, foam letters "E" and "G" (betcha can't guess what those stand for, haha), a q-tip, a ticket, a penny, a screw, and a foam flower. I looked all over the darn house for a pair of dice, but I just couldn't find any. (And I know they exist here somewhere. So frustrating!)

If you have older children, you can make a label that has all of the items inside of the bottle listed so that they can have fun looking for the specific things. My daughter can't read, so I chose not to make a tag. (She would just rip it off and eat it, anyway!) For the really little ones, I think they'll just be happy to have a bottle of rice to shake around. :) Evelyn likes to pretend to drink hers...go figure. Haha.

When you're ready to fill your bottle, I recommend using or making a funnel for the rice. I used a rolled up piece of cardstock. Put in a layer of rice, add a couple of trinkets, more rice, more trinkets, etc. until all of your items are in the bottle. Then do a little shake up! The more rice that is in the bottle, the harder it will be to find the items. Make sure you leave at least a little space at the top so that the rice can move around freely, revealing the little surprises inside. 

Last, add the cap! Hot gluing it on might not be such a bad idea. I don't have a hot glue gun, so I used regular glue. Lucky for me, Evelyn doesn't yet know how to unscrew a cap anyway, but I definitely wouldn't give this to an older child without having the cap securely stuck!

Well, what do you know? I spy a ticket! 

Evelyn likes her new toy!
While this homemade game may seem like it's only for children, word on the street is that it's quickly becoming a fun icebreaker to play at adult parties. You can make the game even more challenging by using a larger bottle with more items to find. Try a 2-liter! The game can be played as a timed challenge, or you can make two identical bottles and challenge a friend to be the first to find a specific item. 

This game is also becoming popular to add on tables at showers and weddings for waiting guests to enjoy. They can be "dressed up" by using glass bottles with corks and fancy labels. And of course, the bottles can be filled with much classier things than plain old rice...beads or pearls would make for more adult fillers. The items to find can also be themed. Just use your imagination!

Let me know if you make one of these yourself! It was an easy little project to do. The hardest part was probably the waiting. Don't you just love when you see something and say, "Hey, I can do that!" :)

1 comment:

rachel said...

this is SUCH a cute idea!! i'ma have to do this! i'll let you know how it works out!

-rachel fox


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