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Fun with an Eye Dropper

Sweet Pea is 36 months old.

From: I saw this in a bunch of places (The Shafer Family, The Adventures of Bear, and My Montessori Journey) and really wanted to do it, but it took me a while to find the non-skid suction mats.


  • 1 Mini non-skid bathtub suction mat. (I had a terrible time finding these, but finally located a set at Bed Bath & Beyond.)
  • Eyedropper (I bought a pack of these from Micheal’s.)
  • Liquid water color or food coloring (optional).  (Warning: Food coloring stains.)
  • Small bowl.
  • Spoon.
  • Water.
  • Tray (optional, but recommended to keep the spilled water contained).
  • White paper to go on top of the tray so the colored drops show up better (optional).
  • Smock or Bib (optional).


  • Fill the small bowl less than halfway full with water.  If you are using color, add 1 or 2 drops (just enough to tint the water) of liquid water color or food coloring to the water.
  • Place the mat so the suction cups are facing up on the tray and place the water bowl and eye dropper next to it.
  • Sit next to your tot and demonstrate carefully holding the bulb of the  eye dropper between your thumb and pointer finger of your dominant hand.  Show your tot how to squeeze the bulb a couple of times.
  • Hold the small bowl steady with your off hand.  Squeeze the bulb and then lower the tip of the eye dropper into the water.  Gently take pressure off of the bulb so the colored water gets sucked up into the tip of the eye dropper.
  • Carefully move the eye dropper so that it is above one of the suction cups on the mat.
  • Squeeze the bulb very slowly so one drop of colored water falls from the eye dropper into a suction cup.  Continue squeezing, drop by drop, until the entire suction cup is filled with colored water.  Then move your hand to the next suction cup  and squeeze again to release a new drop.
  • Repeat until the eye dropper is empty.
  • Instruct your tot to place his or her fingers over yours while you repeat all of the steps (squeeze the bulb, suck in more water, and drop it out again into a suction cup).
  • When your tot seems to understand, let him or her try alone.

Observations: This was a huge challenge for Sweet Pea, but she loved it.  It was really difficult for her to release the bulb just enough to suck up some of the water.  Every time she tried to release the bulb, the entire eye dropper would fall out of her hand.  I had no idea what a tough skill it was to regulate the pressure required to suck up some water.

I had to help Sweet Pea fill up the dropper many times before she was able to do it on her own.  She did best with squeezing the drops out, but did spill quite a bit of the colored water while she was trying to fill up the little suction cups.     However,  she did got better as she went along and by the end was totally independent with this activity.

Sweet Pea considered this more of an art project than a lesson on using an eye dropper.  As she worked, she kept talking about the pretty flower she was making.  She loved everything about it and after she was done with orange, she completed a mat in each of the other colors I had.

This activity completely engaged Sweet Pea.  It was a huge success and I would recommend highly recommend it for older tots.

Notes from the Trenches: The only down side was that this activity was so messy.  It was a good thing that the liquid water colors we used were easy to clean up, because Sweet Pea got  colored water everywhere.  You might want to take this one outside.

Rating: 3 Stars * (Fun, Easy, Independent)

Carnivals: This post is linked at One Hook Wonder’s weekly Montessori Monday and Mommy Moment’s  Montessori Moment.  Take a look at those sites for other great Montessori ideas.

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