Everyday Items as Awesome Toys: BOTTLES

Everyday Items as Awesome Toys: BOTTLES

Everyday Items as Awesome Toys: BOTTLES

You will find it amusing, that you don’t really need fancy, trendy, or expensive toys to do so. There are also other types of building toys, such as Magnatiles, that offer greater flexibility and different ways to build.

In doing so, children can help bring their figurines to life. For example, they could role-play as an astronaut figurine and explore the dark starry sky at night with all the stars and planets. It also helps  children in communication, Speech and language skills, social skills and awareness about themselves and their environment.

Bottle play ideas –

The awesomeness of common items in play should not go unnoticed! In this series, we will explore one such common item each time and discuss five different ways to play with it.

This article is exploring the everyday item: Bottles

The activities in the article can use any type of (plastic or unbreakable) bottle that is lying around the house. Cleaned empty bottles may be spruced up by painting them or using masking tape. This can make it more attractive for the children when the games are played.

Here are the games:

1. Pom Poms.

A bottle with a small mouth is needed for this activity along with several small pom poms. The child is shown how to fit the pom poms into the bottle, till they are all over or till the bottle is filled (which ever is first). This is great to build attention, concentration, motor skills. The child can be asked to fill in only a specific color of pom poms into the bottle and thereby following instructions and understanding of colors can be reinforced.

bottles pom pom

In an alternate way to play this game, the pom poms can be picked up by tweezers to be dropped into the bottle or small cut straws can be used instead of pom poms. This is a fun game that can keep a child engaged for long. Bottle play ideas

2. Pour ’em.

Use bottles that are heavy bottomed and wide mouth for this activity. Use a waterproof red tape (electrical ones are ideal), a red permanent marker to draw a thick line near the mouth of the bottle to mark the maximum water level. Show the child how to fill the water till the level marked in red. Use a spouted bottle or mug to pour. This is a wonderful activity to build the skill of pouring, which enhances eye-hand coordination, motor skills amongst several other skills.

bottles pouring

Use this fun activity to build language by adding a level of pretending. Allow the child to fill water to drink for a favourite toy. Talk how the water is being poured and exclaim with suitable words when it spills.

Alternately, you can pour sand into the bottles. Different colored sand may also be layered. This would give another aspect to talk to about the child and to allow him/her to expand on creativity. Bottle play ideas

3. Sensory bottles

Sensory bottles can be quite calming to watch. For children, they can be used to keep them engaged or to calm them down. They can also become goal-oriented activities or a language building task. There are a huge variety of sensory bottles that can be made. Including ones that are visual, auditory or may stimulate the sense of smell.

Sensory bottles

Visual bottles:

Fill an empty bottle with colored glue (I like to use the one with glitter in them) along with water. Alternately you can use water and glycerol. Fill fun items that can move around in the bottle which may include more glitter. Children can shake it and watch how the glitter items move around.

If you add some random small toy items (such as a small ball, tiny chair etc), this bottle can be used to build language. The child can play eye spy or try to label different items that are in the bottle.

sensory bottle game of language

Smell: Smaller bottled can be filled with different ‘masalas’ such as zeera, oregano etc. Small holes can be made on one side (the holes should be small so that the masala does not fall out). A child can be asked to smell the bottles to describe the smell, guess what masala it is etc. Language skills can be easily encouraged through this activity.

4. Ring the bottles

A classic game which is truly enjoyable for kids and adults. 5 to 6 bottles with narrow necks, small mouth, and a broad base are best suited for activity (such as plastic coke bottles). If the bottles are filled with some sand at the bottom or with some water, they are less likely to topple over. This would make the game easier and less frustrating for younger children.

bottle - throw game

Rings will be used to throw at the bottles so that they land on them. The aim of the game is to have all the bottles with rings on them. This is great to build attention, concentration, aiming,  eye-hand coordination. If the bottles are of different colors, the child can be asked to listen to instructions such as ‘ aim for the blue bottle’. This will be a way to build on language and listening. Increase the difficulty of the instructions to make the game more challenging.

The game can also become competitive if each bottle is given a point. And if that bottle is caught by the ring, then the child gets that point. Bottle play ideas

5. Bowling

The bottles used for the game ‘Ring the bottles’ are great to use for bowling also. Have a medium-sized ball to play this game. Kids do well if the ball is just right for them to hold and somewhat heavy. You would like to get the child to roll the ball (rather than throw) to make them topple the balls down. Aiming, concentration, eye-hand coordination, perception are few of the skills that are improved through this game.

bottles bowling

Get a lot of speech and language going here, by commenting appropriately through the activity (so that they listen to new words and sentences), getting the child to talk about what s/he is to do, cheering and repeating appropriate exclamations each time the child completes bowling. The game aims to get all the bottles toppled by one throw. Taking turns is essential for this game. Social skills (turn-taking, commenting, initiating a conversation and other pragmatic skills) can be pushed through this game if a group of children play together.

Bonus: Drum away

This would be one of the easiest fun ways to use bottles. A cylindrical plastic box is the best with a lid on the top. The child and adult can take turns to drum on the lid. Since these drums can be carried around, fun marching songs can be played to a tune. Allow the child to sing along or vocalize to tunes played on the drum. It can build imitation, listening skills, motor skill, and speech.


How have you played with empty bottles? Leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.


Make sure to say and model as many words to your child while you play. Encourage your little one to repeat the words. Once they get an idea, wait for your child to initiate a speech before giving the toy.

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Tanushree Chandhok
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