A friend of mine visited a Waldorf School in Baltimore recently and said that the children enjoyed dropping objects into tissue paper covered jars. The "ka-plink" sound is pleasing to them and the paper protects the glass. I think she said that the kids were dropping old wooden clothespins into the jars.
I didn't actually get to see the jars myself, but I thought this was a cool idea. I figured I could make my own!
I re-purposed these leftover Ball canning jars and a recycled sauce jar to make my version of "discovery jars". I had some handmade paper scraps that were thick and perfect for covering the glass. (Tissue paper or fabric would be lovely, too.) I used regular Elmer's Glue (not the washable kind) to seal the paper on the outside of the glass. On the bottoms of the jars, I cut and hot-glued felt just to make sure they wouldn't break when set on a hard surface.
These jars are great for sorting, grouping, and counting (all important math concepts for early learners). Given my toddler's obsession with lids, these jars are perfect! I made a few for my preschoolers as well. They can sort seeds, shells, stones - you name it.
And you know what else? Lots of grown-up uses, too. The jars would be beautiful with a tea light inside as a lantern or tied with a ribbon for a flower arrangement.