Ask Holly: Specimen Jars

BY  |  Thursday, Oct 06, 2011 7:00am  |  COMMENTS (4)

As a general rule I like to avoid trips to the ER on days that end with “Y”. So, I came up with this project on the super fly last year when I was creating my beet babies and my kids wanted to help. It seemed like a bad idea to give my four-year-old a sharp knife to cut up beets.

This project will have your kids saying “cool,””awesome” and “disgusting.” And children as young as three can do this with a small amount of assistance. Do the painting for and assist with the food coloring with the younger kids. It is a great inexpensive project for Halloween parties as well.


  • Clean glass jars in any size (empty the spaghetti or pickles into Tupperware and use those jars if you don’t have any saved. Take the labels off with Goo Gone or run them under hot water and scrub for a few minutes)
  • Black gloss paint
  • A paint brush
  • Halloween stickers (eyeballs or bugs work great)
  • Liquid food colors
  • Rubber spiders, bugs, witches fingers, mice etc.

Step One: paint the tops of the jars black, two coats works best. When the paint is dry let the kids put stickers on the tops of the jars. TIP: paint the tops of the jars before starting this project as once the kids fill the jars they want to shake them right away.


Step Two: Let the kids put whatever gross things they want in the jars.


Step Three: Fill the jars with water and let the kids put a few drops of food coloring into their jars. Green and yellow, yellow, one drop of red and two yellow and red work well. Blue tends to be too dark. Screw the lids on tightly and let them shake it up!

The nice thing is that they can dump out the water and start over many times if they want to experiment. I keep these out all October for funky decorations.

(Rubber bugs etc. available at Party City. Liquid food colors are available at most grocery stores in the baking aisle.)

Questions? Just Ask Holly in comments.



What kind of gruesome things are you putting up this Halloween?


  1. POSTED BY Kristin  |  October 06, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    I love this! My kids are so young I think I’ll avoid the glass jars and go straight to the plastic ones. Now I have to go find some eyeballs and bitten off fingers.

  2. POSTED BY Jenn  |  October 06, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    I’m going to make one with Barbie heads for the Booo-ristanet party. I just need to find some Barbie heads…

  3. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  October 06, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    I’ll bring mine.

  4. POSTED BY hollykorus  |  October 06, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

    That creeps me out and I love it.

    This is what I dream about: Breaking into someone’s house who collects barbies and leaves them in the box . Then I bust out all of the barbies from their cardboard ebay-prisons and put their head in jars like above. At that point the owner returns to find thier priceless collection of plastic toys headless and the defiled boxes.

    I will tape the whole thing and put it up on youtube.

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And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

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