The I Spy game is your secret weapon for long road trips or traffic jams, and the books by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick keep kids on the hunt for hours. Here’s a new item for your “I’m bored!” arsenal: a do-it-yourself I Spy jar. This easy, sensory craft is low- to no-cost and as added bonus, puts to use some of those miscellaneous toys and odds and ends you’ve been meaning to recycle. Scroll down for tips on making your own.

I-Spy toy supplies

You will need:

Filler. You are limited here only by your imagination and the size of the jar. Look for small toys, dice, dominos, pencils, broken watches, cool coins, earrings, broken hair clips, spools, old keys or similar items. Here’s your excuse to round up all the goody bag/vending machine toys and those game pieces you lost the rest of. Avoid anything too heavy (rocks) that could potentially break the jar if shaken.

Jars. Any size jar will do, but how much or how little you put in will depend on your jar. For little kids who might shake the jar more vigorously, try a jar with a screw-top lid like a Mason jar.

Pencil and paper. You can either make your child a check-list to try and find certain things or have them write (or say out loud while you write) the things they spot.

toys for I-Spy Jar Gather round. First, hunt down your items, preferably while the kids aren’t looking. This is an easy craft to do with the kids, but it’s also fun to make sure they don’t know what’s going in the jar.

I-Spy Jar up close

For the littles. For toddlers or younger, you can add fewer things to the jar or multiples. For example, if you want to teach about the number 3, put 3 red beads, 3 small dinosaurs, 3 plastic swords, etc. Remember, you can use any item that fits and even if it is a beloved toy, you can just take it out at the end of play.I-Spy Jar

Switch it up. If you want more of a challenge, make the check-list you create for your kids a puzzle, too. Ask them to find something that opens a door, or something that meows. You can also save some room and then add one item to the jar a day and see if they can figure out what it is.

Have you tried puzzle jars with your kids? Share pics with us on Instagram or Facebook #redtricycle #nationalpuzzleday

—Amber Guetebier