Discovery Box 10: Tubes, Tape and Beans

Remember the big cardboard box from the small world town? Yep. It’s still here (for now at least!) With a few hot days last week we decided to move the investigations outside and have a Discovery Box of materials on a larger scale than usual.

 This Discovery Box consisted of two huge box lids, plenty of cardboard tubes of differing lengths, plastic milk jugs with holes cut in the bottom, cups, sieves, egg cartons, pots, funnels and spoons for scooping and pouring with. I also put in a big roll of masking tape and our big tub of sensory play materials, which currently consists of dried pasta shapes, Shreddies and a mixture of dried beans and pulses.

 And I sat in a box with them and watched as they set about tipping and pouring, scooping and transporting.

 It was a wonderful, big mess, but it was semi-contained within the parameters of the boxes. Not that we mind a bit of mess!

Cakie led the way by angling one of the tubes over the edge and into her trolley. She then worked out that it would act as a slide and had a great time sending all the bits down it and running to collect them. I helped her by sticking the tube onto the box so it would stay still. After about 5 minutes she didn’t like that anymore and ripped it off. Much better idea! (who needs Mummy around interfering all the time?)

 Look at the concentration! Little Pop loved shooting the beans down one of the long tubes and gained accuracy very quickly. Great for motor skills and hand-to-eye coordination too.

 I helped Cakie when she asked for it, tearing and attaching tape where she wanted it to go. We built this large tube-shoot together and she loved tipping things down it and watching it fly out of the bottom. Then she went and found another container to modify and improve on her design, sticking it underneath to catch the pieces as they fell.

 Then she worked on a more mobile version! This time with a double tube insert and landing at the bottom in a milk jug with a hole in its side.

 Thinking and investigating.

 And what happens if I do this?

We built quite a lot of weird and wonderful things together, following her directions! She found having the funnel at the top wasn’t much good as only the littlest beans could fit through, so that came off and more adjustments were made.

 Read about all our other Discovery Boxes here. See what simple, investigative, open ended fun you can have with very simple resources from around the home!

This activity is good for:

  • sensory play
  • science and knowledge of the world: trial and error/ investigating outcomes/ gravity and simple forces
  • creativity: building and constructing with recycled materials/ fixing using tape/ building towers and shoots
  • maths: construction/ building/ using 3D shapes in play
  • PHSE: working together/ taking turns/ collaboration/ modifying ideas and trying again
  • motor skills: fine motor precision/ gross motor lifting, tipping, fixing/ hand-eye-coordination


  1. says

    Oooh! This is fantastic!! My dad ended up going out and buying a bigger tv (so they could access digital channels and prepare for the switch over from analogue), which means we now have a big box. I was wondering what to do with it – was thinking about the little village with roads and tracks etc., but we actually don’t have any accessories that would go with this so I wasn’t sure what to do. This gives me ideas though! Thankyou Ann – you always seem to come up with just the right idea when needed most!

  2. says

    Thank You Kate! What a compliment. And yes I will link it up this week I promise!

    Larissa, thanks so much and I’m pleased you now know what to do with your enormous box! hope you have plenty of fun in it :-)

    thanks Jen and Love&Lollipops!

  3. says

    I love your ideas for discovery boxes…this is easily adaptable to any age level! Thanks for the great post!

  4. says

    This is right up my alley, Anna!! I just posted about my baby playing with beans, and you’re helping me think about setting up a scenario for both girls to play and explore together. The tubes and chutes are simply fabulous, and I love how Cakie directed the whole thing. Step aside, Mum :)