Discovery Box 1: Rolling and Stacking

In this post about using Treasure Baskets with babies I said I was going to have a go at making a toddler version called Discovery Boxes. The idea for the Discovery Boxes is that each one will contain a range of items grouped together for an open-ended play activity. Toddlers like to find out what objects can do and what they are for, and without being told what to do or what the end purpose is. They can discover that for themselves!
Here is Discovery Box 1 (actually a bag this time!) The items are themed around rolling and stacking.

I put this together while she was taking her afternoon nap and placed it in the middle of the room ready for her to discover. She was so excited to unwrap the bag as it looked like a giant present! (Apologies for the quality of the photos- it’s already getting dark in the mid-afternoon around here!)

 I sat back and watched as she pulled out the contents of the bag one by one, before she just tipped it all onto the floor!

 Lots of tubes of varying lengths and widths, napkin rings, elastic bands, hair bands, round cookie cutters, cut plastic bottles and sellotape rolls. I also added a metal kitchen roll holder and a small tree branch that we found on the ground at the park. Interestingly, the tree branch was the absolute favourite.

 Her favourite activity was to stack things onto the kitchen roll holder, then take them off and rearrange and reorder them.

She seemed particularly fascinated by seeing if she could balance the longest tube over the top of it and then trying to stick the branch in the top.

 Look at that tongue out in pure concentration!

 A lot of satisfaction and self-congratulation when she managed to do it!

There were also some decorating rollers in there. She stroked them and apart from that didn’t really know what else to do with them apart from rolling them up and down the other tubes. Curious!

 Back to more stacking up.

 Posting smaller items inside the larger ones.

She played with the objects for about 20 minutes then went away to play with her other toys. I left them out and she came back to them a few times during the afternoon and gradually incorporated them into her usual play.


  1. says

    What great ideas for toddlers! I still remember when my son (now 25!) went through what I called his “bag phase” as a toddler where he wanted to put everything he owned into bags! This would have been certain to please him!
    I featured your discovery box (bag) and treasure basket at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page.

  2. says

    Thanks Deb! Yes, they seem to have a particular love for relocating things into little bags and containers don’t they? The simple pleasures never change :-) I will go and check out your Facebook page, thanks.

  3. says

    Was it annoying to have to put everything back where it went in the end? I think this is a great idea. But I can see the bag/box sitting in a corner for a long time because I am too lazy to put the things back where they belong when she no longer has interest in playing with it!

  4. says

    I love your photos, I think my toddler would really enjoy this, she loves stacking everything she can get her hands on at the moment!

  5. says

    Looks like your treasure basket was a complete success! All that stacking and playing! I must must must have a go with my one year old (when the 3 year old is at nursery maybe!!)

    Thank you so much for linking up Kids Get Crafty! Much appreciated to see you there!!

    Red Ted Art

  6. says

    Looks like a great free play idea. I’m going to give it a go with my 2 y.o. He’ll definitely like the unpacking the bag part of the activity!

  7. says

    Nice. I’ve got babe #3 in the house and he’s already exposed to so much from big bro and sis that I like ideas like this – tailor-made just for him (but not entirely baby-ish)!

  8. Cheeky Monkeys Childminding - Sharon says

    Found you via Nuturestore link – Great Idea – I am a childminder and have a 2yr old of my own so will be putting this on my planning sheet for next week – sometimes the ideas are so simple you dont think of them – Thank you for the inspiration