Container – “Find It” Jar (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , July 5, 2009 5:17 pm


This post is a follow-up to last Sunday’s Tiny – Cool Colored Rice post.  The rice coloring was such a fun project in and of itself, that I decided just to focus on that.  I chose this week’s Unplugged Project theme of container because it fit nicely with our original reason for making colored rice in the first place:  A “Find It” Jar.

For a while now I have eyed these “Find It” games, thinking they would be fun for the car, travel or restaurants.  But the the potential fun factor never seemed to justify the price, so I have never bought one.

With a long plane ride to Europe in our near future, I found myself once again considering buying one for the trip (would they let this through security?).  But then it occurred to me that this could be fun and easy to make, so we decided to give it a try!

You’ll need a jar (a container!), preferably fairly tall and with a wide mouth.  I used a glass spaghetti sauce jar, but I would recommend something plastic for travel or young children (a mayonnaise jar perhaps?).

You’ll also need some colored rice and many small objects to hide.  I found that light, flat objects (like Legos) did not work very well since they seemed to stay on the surface of the rice.  Another idea would be to choose objects according to a theme: nature objects (pebbles, acorns, twigs, shells), or animals (little toy animals), etc.

Tip:  Consider the colors of your rice and how choice of color can increase the level of difficulty.  You could hide all green objects in green rice for example, or do as I did and hide a variety of different-colored objects in multicolored rice.

Normally you could just make a list of the hidden objects, but since I wanted my non-reading 3 year-old to be able to play too, I decided to make a picture card instead.

I laid out all the objects on a plain white piece of paper (for clarity) and took a photo of them.  Next I printed out the photo so my 3 year-old would know what to find:

The final step is to drop the objects into the jar and pour in the colored rice.

Don’t fill the jar completely, otherwise the rice and the objects won’t be able to move around very well.

Put the lid on (tightly!) and shake it up.

If you are worried about your children opening the jar and making a mess, you could glue the lid on.  If you don’t glue the lid on however, you can easily change out the hidden treasures for others to keep it interesting.

I glued a bit of ribbon around the lid to make it prettier, but that’s just me being an over-the-top perfectionist and is absolutely not necessary.

Give the jar and list or photo to your children and let them see how many objects they can find.  This is my 3 year-old giving it a go:

For older children,you could even give them a timer to race each other.  For solitary play, they can try to top their own best time!

NOTE – Storing the Colored Rice:  I finally found a use for the lovely, old-fashioned style French soda bottles that I had packratted away in the back of the pantry for years.  I keep them on the kitchen counter now because they look so pretty!  What do you think?


If you did a container-themed Unplugged Project this week then please link to your post below (not just your blog, we always want to be able to find your container post).  If you didn’t do a container project, then don’t link, but please read more about how to join in the Unplugged Project here.  We’d love to have you!


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project will be:


Be creative and enjoy!


27 Responses to “Container – “Find It” Jar (Weekly Unplugged Project)”

  1. What a pretty project – I love it!
    .-= Mozi Esmes Mommy´s last blog ..Happy Birthday, USA! =-.

  2. Mom Unplugged says:

    Thank you! Pretty and fun!

  3. We did something very similar, which might also be good for your plane ride. It certainly kept my kid occupied for a while.
    .-= Mom and Kiddo´s last blog ..Magnet Play (Unplugged Project: Container) =-.

  4. Holly says:

    We have I Spy bags, but they hardly ever get played with. I’ll have to try this and see if they use it more…
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..The Rabelaisian marchpane saponified the calvous wagtail, or Ice Cream Sunday #2. =-.

  5. a jar!! why didnt i think of that!! lol.. I had seen them on the net just in plastic water bottles.. so that is how we made ours.. but there are only so many things that small to fit in the hole – buttons and tiny toys…. a jar could have bigger things… too smart you are!!

  6. Camilla says:

    Love this project (and the colored rice itself! – which is why I came back today in the first place) I am definitaly going to try this :)
    .-= Camilla´s last blog ..Heggspinnmøll =-.

  7. PisecoMom says:

    I love the way the rice looks in those tall bottles!

    We have made lots of find-it games over the years – I especially like to make holiday-themed ones. For my 2 yo daughter we often use the “Aquapod” short water bottles, which are easy for her to hang on to in the car.
    .-= PisecoMom´s last blog ..Unplug Your Kids: Containers (with a Tot Tool bonus!) =-.

  8. […] theme for the Unplug Your Kids challenge this week was container… and I knew right away what I wanted to do.  Every time we go to the […]

  9. susie says:

    I am new to this. So sorry if this is a dumb question. In order to find the objects are they supposed to dump the rice out or stick their hands in? Or just keep shaking until you see them all? If they don’t get to dump it out is that not frustrating for a two-three year old?

  10. Mom Unplugged says:

    Hi Susie,

    That’s a very good question! The idea is that they shake the jar around to uncover the objects one at a time. It is important not to fill the jar all the way since that will make the objects much harder to find because compacted rice moves less freely. The less rice you put in, the easier it will be to find everything.

    As to whether it is frustrating or not I guess depends on your child’s personality. My kids like this type of activity (even my 3 year-old) but like most things, it might not suit all personality types.

    By the way, a variation on this for more easily frustrated children would be to put the rice in a plastic dishpan or box and hide objects for children to find while digging with their hands. Keep a vacuum cleaner handy though!

    Thanks again for the question!

  11. susie says:

    Thanks! One more question. Where do you find the cute little items to put in there?

  12. Mom Unplugged says:

    Unfortunately our house seems to be littered with “cute little items” like these! A few things came from the dollhouse, a few others are Playmobil. If you look around your children’s toys you should be able to find plenty of little things that would fit in a jar. Thanks again for the questions!

  13. Green Bean says:

    What a FUN idea!!
    .-= Green Bean´s last blog ..Waste Independence =-.

  14. Deborah says:

    They do look super nice. I must make some – but first I need to jump into the bin and scab out the 2 bottles I threw out. :)
    .-= Deborah´s last blog ..Bible Bee =-.

  15. The kids loved the “find it” jar – thanks for the great idea.
    .-= almost unschoolers´s last blog ..Milk Jug Houses =-.

  16. Mom Unplugged says:

    You are welcome! I am glad your kids enjoyed it!

  17. I just found your blog while doing some research for a blog post on TV. We are nearly TV free. We have a small TV in the toy room for the occasional family movie or video – and by occasionally I mean my husband asked where the remote was last week and I couldn’t even tell him the last time we used it!

    I love this project! In fact, I love your site! We are homeschooling this year and I can see where this site will be a great resource!
    .-= Marci@OvercomingBusy´s last blog ..Are you self-centered? =-.

  18. Mom Unplugged says:

    Welcome! Thanks so much for your comment. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and I hope you’ll find other projects that will be fun and educational!

  19. Lisa says:

    Just wanted to thank you for this coloured-rice treasure jar idea, and the tips in your post. I made these for my kids for a road trip, then recently went into my son’s grade 1-2 class to make the jars. I collected 25 recycled plastic containers, brought in 16 kg of rice, a few hundred odds & ends, and (what I thought was) plenty of food colouring. Logistics for a big group were a bit more complicated and things got a bit more hectic than doing it at home, but the kids LOVED it, and it was a very rewarding and enriching experience for me too.

    Unfortunately I was so busy throughout that I didn’t think to take any photos of the experience, but I did keep bits of all the leftover rice from each child’s colours, so I have a big bowl with every colour of rice imaginable.

    Thanks again for this, and many other posts and ideas!

  20. Mom Unplugged says:

    You are welcome Lisa and thank you so much for letting me know that my idea worked for you! I am very impressed with how you tackled this project with so many children. I did it with only three and we made quite a mess! Thanks again for taking the time to comment, it really means a lot to me to know that grown-ups and children enjoy my ideas!

  21. […] is a nice, mesmerizing sort of activity.  Here are some other instructions. […]

  22. […] Sand in a jar:  maybe you’re a traveling couple.  Put some sand in a jar with miniature pieces that remind you of where you’ve been and the fun you’ve had (like this). […]

  23. […] gun. There are detailed instructions for making a find-it jar here and another good explanation for making a find-it jar here. This site calls them Lookie Loos – a scavenger hunt in your hand and also has […]

  24. […] instructions, its not the one i wanted to share, but it will do as i couldnt find the other one Container – “Find It” Jar (Weekly Unplugged Project) | Unplug Your Kids you can use either rice or even hamma beads (to give it more colour) to fill the jar this is also […]

  25. chris steiner says:

    Great idea! I am going to make these either with or for my Special Needs students. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Carolyn Miller says:

    This is adorable! Do you make the colored rice, or purchase it?

  27. Marie says:

    Im hosting a baby shower!! This is soooooooooo going to be one of the games! My son and I baked 6 bags (4 cups each) of rice last night. It was sitting on the kitchen bench and this morning my toddler found it! Well, glad he had fun! Thx so so much!! I’m so excited!!

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