Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What to do with an old shoe box

Have you ever found yourself with a pile of old shoe boxes in your closet and you're not sure what to do with them.  If you have little ones in your house, here are a few possible fun ideas.

Quick and easy, give your child a few golf balls or other round items to transfer from a basket or bowl into the shoe box.  Round items will work best since they will enjoy capturing the items and stopping them from rolling away.  They will also enjoy placing the lid on top of the shoe box and carrying the balls around the house.

Prompting question: How do the golf balls feel?  Are the balls inside the box or outside the box?

Creating a mystery touch and feel box will also provide your little one with hours of fun.  All you will need to do is cut a large enough hole in one end of the shoe box for your child to fit his or her hand through.  Once you have done this, you can place a variety of items inside the shoe box: golf ball, stuffed animal, acorns, use your imagination.  The possibilities are endless.

For those particularly curious children, you may need to tape/glue/staple a flap of fabric inside the box behind the hole to prevent peeking.

 Isabel demonstrating said peeking behavior


This activity has many possibilities for differentiated learning.  For young toddlers, it will stand alone as a sensory experience.

For older preschool age children, this can become a guessing game.  Place a mystery item in the box and have them try and guess what it is.  Older children would also enjoy decorating the mystery box using markers, paint or stickers.

Prompting questions: What do you feel?  Is it hard or soft, smooth or bumpy?  What do you think is inside the box?

For those of you with many shoe boxes hanging around, you could create a sensory walking trail for your children!  I used cotton balls, dried beans and Easter basket grass for this application, but any items that would provide an interesting sensory experience would work well.  I quickly discovered using food items with toddlers was not a great idea as they immediately wanted to eat the dried beans.  Fabric scraps or yarn would also be good options.

Invite your child to step into the boxes with bare feet and take a little stroll from box to box.  They will enjoy the experience of feeling the many different textures against their toes.

Some children may feel weary about standing inside the boxes.  They may simply wish to explore from the outside

Prompting questions: As your child walks through the trail, you can ask: How does it feel?  Is rough or smooth, soft or hard?  Asking these types of questions will encourage your children to describe what they feel and also make comparisons among objects.

Make some room in your closets and let the fun begin!

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