thumb-controlled watering can

A thumb-controlled watering can… such a fun and FAST project! When the container is filled up with water and you cover the top hole with your thumb, the water stays inside! Remove your thumb and water will come outta the little holes at the bottom. This is perfect for watering new seedlings or for letting kids help water (so they don’t drown those plants….ha!)

We got this awesome idea from Fun in the Making – and tried it out ourselves! We tried it with both a 1/2 gallon milk container and a mysterious other container. (oh fine. it’s an empty vodka bottle.) The “other” bottle worked much much better to control the water… so we’d suggest using a sturdier plastic container like an alcohol bottle, an old maple syrup container, etc.

There’s not really any thing else you HAVE to have to make this. You’ll need to poke small holes (6-15ish) in the bottom but you can do this with a tiny screwdriver, a thick needle, a thin pin, OR you could go the fast way and use a drill. You’ll also need one bigger hole in the lid of your container. We used a 1/16 drill bit to make the bottom holes and a 3/16 drill bit to make the top hole.

To fill it up:
Put the container in a bucket full of water. Then cover the big hole with your finger and lift it outta there. Then put it over your plants and take away your thumb. Water!
Or you can do what we did (we have no bucket…) which is turn the hose on really fast into the container. It’ll fill up in about 4 seconds (and leak some on the ground) and then you can cover the lid hole with your thumb.

We found that the milk container was too flimsy / the lid wasn’t super tight and let a lot of water through after you’d already covered up the big hole with your thumb.

So we tried it with the thick vodka bottle with a screw-on lid and it worked perfectly! So cool.

ta-da! donezo. Your kids will think it’s super fun now to water plants. (or your husband…. ahem Josiah.)

:) i hope you find some sweet containers to use that work well! Embrace your alcohol bottles. Except it might be weird if your kids are running around with them. Ha!



  1. Lychee July 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Oh! This is a good idea. It reminds me of an episode of “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan where he demonstrates gravity or particles with a tool from ancient times. I tried finding the episode, but I can’t seem to. It was cool beans, though!

  2. amanda July 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    And what did you do with all the vodka?! :)

  3. Lauren July 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    amanda we bought the bottle completely empty of all vodka…. people love to buy empty booze bottles. ahh false. it was drunk. drunken? drank?

  4. Ming July 5, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I must try this with my little one! She’s not quite 2 though, I wonder if her thumbs are big enough… Maybe I could use little bottled-water bottle?

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