Engineer, the summer camp kiddos, and I had fun making “sunken treasure” discovery bottles during Pirate Week. I knew the little pirates would want to take some of their treasures home, and I thought discovery bottles would be one way to accomplish that. We made the sunken treasure bottles two different ways, both with their own distinct characteristics.
Related: Children’s Books about Pirates
How to Make Discovery Bottles for a Pirate Theme
As mentioned above, we made a couple versions of these pirate-y discovery bottles. We let the children choose which one to make, and they were also welcome to make both versions!
Materials we used
- Craft sand
- Gold glitter
- Gold sequins
- Tiny craft shells
- Blue water beads (in their original, tiny state)
Sunken Treasure Discovery Bottles
The kids used funnels to add the sand and glitter to the empty plastic bottles. For everything else, they just used their fingers.
This turned out to be a great fine motor activity for many of the children! They were all so very focused on adding just the right amount of sand and “treasure” to their bottles.
I loved seeing the intense looks on their faces during this process. Some kids added more shells, some went a little wild with the glitter, and others hoarded the “jewels” (aka beads).
Then we put water in the bottles, leaving a little bit of space at the top. Some blue food coloring was the last bit added, and then the tops were put on.
I’d suggest using a hot glue gun to secure the top, especially if smaller children might play with the discovery bottles.
This first version of our pirate discovery bottle showed the kiddos what happens to wet sand. It also illustrated floating and sinking concepts. Many of them enjoyed rolling the bottles side to side, watching the sand and treasure move. The blue food coloring made it difficult to see the water beads once they’d grown, but their shapes were still evident when moving the bottle.
Sparkly Ocean Discovery Bottles
Engineer and I made the next version of our sunken treasure bottles at home. We wanted to use something other than blue-tinted water to act as the ocean so we could see our treasure better. Water beads came into play in a much bigger way this time!
First, we added water and water beads. After the water beads had grown to a sufficient size, we added some gold glitter, mini craft shells, and beads.
Again, I’d suggest using a hot glue gun to secure the top, especially for the little ones.
Related: Rainbow Glitter Sensory Jars
I liked the second version the best. The color was brighter, and we were able to see all of our treasures clearly. On top of that, it made a really fun sound when we shook it! The movement of this bottle was obviously different that the first.
Engineer and I compared and contrasted the movements, the colors, and the sounds of both bottles. I liked hearing Engineer comment on why he thought the differences had occurred.
Our sunken treasure discovery bottles are still around the house. They’ve sat in the kitchen window, which let us see how well light shone through the bottles. The bottles have rolled all around the living room, with Determined Diva giggling behind them. Little Hurricane has had WAY too much fun shaking the bottles and listening to the sounds they make. Engineer has enjoyed moving them from upright to horizontal positions all around the place, too.
It’s always fun to find something like this that fascinates kids from 1 to 6!
Have your little pirates made discovery bottles recently? What items did they enjoy placing inside them?
Preschool Pirate Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the pirate-y fun with done-for-you lesson plans from Preschool Teacher 101. The preschool pirate-themed lesson plans have printable lesson plans for a week, as well as explanations for the activities (for whole group, small group, and center time), book suggestions, and related printables.
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers