Alphabet I Spy Bottle (The Five Senses: Sight)

This week Little M. and I are discussing the 5 senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Each day for the next five days I will post an activity we did for one of the senses. Today, we will be thinking about the sense of sight.

Letter Beads and Rice in the Finished Sensory Bottle

First, lets have a little review of the anatomy of sight. Your child may not be ready to learn much past the concept that we see with our eyes (or maybe they are), but it may be useful to review for yourself. We see something when our the cornea and lens of our eye focuses light from the environment onto our eyes retina. Within the retina, the rods and cones detect photons (light particles) and send neural impulses to the brain. The brain interprets these signals, like all of the other five senses. (For more information check out the Wikipedia article on sight.)

To learn about the sense of sight with your child there are many fun activities you can do. Color is a great concept within the larger category of sight. You can learn about primary and secondary colors by giving your child water with food coloring in the three primary colors and allowing them to mix and experiment with them and see what happens. So much fun!

Optical illusions can also be a fun topic to discuss along side the sense of sight. My hands down favorite is the duck-rabbit illusion, which can look like either a duck or a rabbit depending on how you think about it. The book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is a great little book to read aloud about this phenomenon. 

I spy is another great activity to help foster an awareness of sight with preschool age children. Searching through the environment, focusing on a single object, choosing a clue based on the physical characteristics (discernible through the sense of sight); the child is practicing many important skills. To play you simply take turns with your child choosing an object around the room and giving a clue like this, “I spy with my little eye something that is (red, round, shiny, etc).

This week, we decided to step up our I spy game a little bit with a fun sensory bottle to help us learn more about the five senses. We “spied” letters in the bottle, mixing in a little letter recognition into our study of the five senses.

This activity will give your child a chance to practice:
  • using and talking about their sense of sight
  • letter recognition
  • and phonics

To Make Your Own I Spy Sensory Bottle You Will Need:

  • an empty plastic water bottle
  • rice, sand, or some other filler
  • letter beads
  • small cup or scoop
  • funnel (optional, but very helpful)

Making the Bottle with Your Preschooler

Make sure the bottle is completely dry before you begin. Give your child the alphabet beads (I tried to make sure she had at least one of each letter) and the bottle. I didn't even have to suggest placing the beads in the bottle, she simply starting dropping them in. I guess it was really self explanatory. We used about 40-50 beads.

Once you child is finished placing the beads into the bottle, you can hand them the rice (or other filler) and the funnel. I handed Little M. the rice one scoop at a time and she poured it into the funnel. The funnel was a bit too narrow, so we had to shake the funnel a bit to get the rice into the bottle. Make sure to leave about 2-3 inches of head space, so that the rice and beads can move freely in the bottle. Help your preschooler screw the cap in place.

Preschooler turning over the bottle to find the letters

Playing the I Spy Game with Your Child

Now you are ready to play! Model how to play for your child: pick out a bead that you see, say out loud, “I spy with my little eye the letter _,” and point to the letter. Take turns with your child. Turn or shake the bottle in between turns to expose new letters.

You could also use number beads, beads of different colors or shapes, or beads in different representatives shapes (like zoo animals).  This activity could be repeated a number of times to do several different topics and learning objectives.

Want to make it a little more challenging? Use letter sounds instead of names! You could even make up clues using words that have the given letter as the initial phoneme/sound, such as “I spy with my little eye the first letter in the word egg!” This is a great flexible activity which could be differentiated for students at different places in their learning.

I Spy Bottle: Preschool Science, the Five Senses

Need a book to go with this activity? Check out the 5 Senses Book Roundup!

Thank you for reading the first of our five senses activities this week! Check back tomorrow to see how we learn about our sense of hearing. If you enjoyed this activity, please share or comment. I'd love to hear from you!


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