Child's Play

Activities for Babies: The Discovery Box

Although my early childhood educator friend suggested introducing a new sensory activity to 6-month-old ZZ once a week, this is one that we’ve been doing for a short while so I thought I’d add it in (since it also happens to be sensory play apparently! w00t!)


A couple of years ago I bought myself a beautiful coffee mug set from a coffee shop in my neighborhood and I fell in love with its box. I’ve used it at the office as a stuff-all, at home as a bill box and as a jewelry box, but this year it finally found its new, long-term job: the perfect discovery and sensory box for ZZ. Since it has no latch and is just a simple flip top, it’s easy for her to try opening with her little hands (mind you her dexterity is still a work-in-progress which is completely normal), but when she finally gets it open, she gets so excited to see what’s inside.

IMG_2583Every time we take it out, I put a new toy in for her to touch or play with (traditionalist educators suggest natural materials, but ZZ and I love these bath toys that we got and every time she takes out a new one, it’s a great opportunity for me to describe the colour and animal she has in her hand in both French and English), otherwise I either place things like ribbons, dry pasta, a natural sponge or, soon, different textures of fabric (I need to plan a trip to the fabric store with Auntie Vee!).

What else can you place in the box? Grasshopper Knees suggests a great variety of things to keep on hand for your 6-36 month old baby :

  • Natural Objects: A lemon or orange, piece of sheepskin, large pumice stone, large shells, woollen pompom, loofah, big feathers.
  • Objects made out of natural materials: Woven baskets, a new toothbrush, a wooden nail brush, house brush, cosmetic brush, preserving lids, silk scarf, bag of herbs, coloured ribbons, lace, egg cup, wooden spoon, knitted toy, bean bag, egg cartons, cardboard cylinders, curtain rings, large pegs, ribbons, lace, measuring spoons.
  • Other items: Foam balls, cellotape rolled up with sticky side out, reflective sheet, pot lids.

If you don’t have a box like this one (which I suspect), you can use a shoebox which you can redecorate, small plastic storage containers (though since they snap, they may be more suitable for toddlers), or a simple open box with no lid is also good for sensory boxes. The Imagination Tree has great ideas for what to place in your boxes and few suggestions of items to keep on hand.

Be A Fun Mum even has a great suggestion for a game to play with your toddlers: flipping the tables on them by doing themed scavenger hunts in order to fill different shoebox discovery boxes and keep them for rainy days.

Do you have other great ideas for discovery and sensory boxes for babies and toddlers? Share them in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Activities for Babies: The Discovery Box

  1. Sophie (mommytrainingwheels) sent me over. 🙂 I love this idea!! I’m going to do it with my 2 1/2 year old. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Discovery Box (and my first blog videos!) | Atlanta Mom of Three

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