You spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year on toys and entertainment for your child, but you don't have to. A simple water bottle has the potential to entertain your preschooler for hours on end. With a little creative thinking, that empty water bottle can save you a ton of money and teach your children a little something, too.
You don't need to build a laboratory or risk chemical explosions to teach your child about science, even if your husband insists otherwise. To teach your child about how magnets work, fill a water bottle with pieces of pipe cleaners or metal washers and screws. Use a magnet to try to drag them up the side of the bottle. For an experiment in density, fill the water bottle with a few tablespoons of honey, dish detergent, water, vegetable oil and rubbing alcohol and watch what happens. You can also fill the bottle halfway with water and simply drop in small objects to see whether they sink or float.
If your child loves music, but you're not quite ready for the joy of a drum set, try a water bottle musical instrument. Fill a water bottle with dried beans, rice, cereal pieces or small screws to make a fun shaker. If a guitar is more your child's style, cut an oval lengthwise in one side of the bottle, wrap three or four rubber bands around it and get ready to rock. Of course, you can also always fill a few bottles with different amounts of water and experiment with the sounds they make when you blow across their tops.
Instead of paying for a fancy hidden object toy, make your own and build vocabulary and other language skills at the same time. Fill a bottle partway with sand, salt or rice, then hide some trinkets inside. Small toys, foam stickers, beads with pictures or in fun shapes, and shaped confetti all work well. Your child can then shake the bottle and see what she can find. Turn it into an alphabet search by adding letter beads for each letter of the alphabet.
Artists around the world have embraced the plastic water bottle and your child can, too. Glue on four black circles and the water bottle becomes a car. Spray paint it silver and add cardboard fins and it's a rocket ship. Cover it in brown construction paper and glue green cotton balls to the top to make a tree. Fill it with water and corn starch and then add confetti for a fun confetti tube. Or, skip the liquid and layer colored sand for a cute sand bottle. Your home will soon be the next museum to embrace the upcycled art movement. Just be careful with all those small objects around your preschooler.