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"I Spy" Sensory Container Games

Last week for Art Tuesday at the Children's Hospital I created "I Spy" sensory container games with the kiddos. I tested them out on my nieces & nephew over the Thanksgiving holiday and they were a total hit. While this appears to be simply a jar filled with junk, it serves as a tool that sparks joy, stimulates creativity, and fosters cognitive and linguistic development through sensory functioning. This is an incredibly easy & inexpensive project to do at home with your littles.


-A clear container (I purchased these new plastic ones at the dollar store for hospital safety) but anything with a sturdy lid works! Be weary of using glass jars such as mason jars because of their fragilness and ability to smash into lots of little peices if dropped.

-Any objects of your choosing that can withstand being submerged in water.

This is a great opportunity to teach your kids or grandchildren about recycling. Go through your child's toys, your junk drawer or be inspired to tackle that long procrastinated storage room and purge of anything random that you have no use for anymore. In no time you will be shocked at the amount of recycable mini treasures you and yours will find and soon covet in this container.



-Food coloring (we did not use food coloring, this is a creative choice)

Examples of items we found and used: 

Plastic Army men 

Mini plastic toy dolls  


Broken toy cars 

Plastic rings & bracelets 

Vintage Brooches 







Unmatched earrings 

Pipe cleaners 






Cut up straws 

Pom poms

Bottle caps

Broken pencils & pens

Paper clips


Hair ties



Have your child identify each object out loud as they add them to the container. Ask them why they chose the objects they did. Next add a tablespoon or two of glitter and then fill the container with water just over 3/4ths full. Screw the lid on tight and give it a shake! If you are worried about your young child opening the lid. Super glue the lid shut.

The game of "I Spy" is simple, shake your container and take turns mentally choosing an object to describe to your partner or group. For example: "I spy something red, that feels slippery, and has no legs" (A fish) Your partner uses your clues to point out the object in the container as it floats throughout the sea of colorful items.

"Practicing sensory art focuses on the brain’s capacity to adapt and develop pathways to learning through stimulation of the senses. Sensory art activities have been shown to produce changes in the brain that reflect improvements in enhanced attention skills and cognition with participants often showing significant gains in emotional awareness, communication, coping, emotional awareness, creative thinking and sensory information processing." (International Arts in Healthcare)

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