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Here’s another Treasure Basket /Discovery Box suitable for those 3 years and over in your life. For this particular discovery activity, the box needs to be metal as there will be some magnets in there to discover.

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Before J opened the box, I set him a challenge… I said, ‘Everything in this box connects to things in different ways, see if you can connect them!’  This was very much an activity of discovery and problem solving as some of the items were harder to connect than others.  Developing the ability to think and solve problems independently is by far a more powerful learning experience than playing with ‘so-called’ educational plastic toys which only offer a limited learning experience!  Don’t get me wrong they are great for certain things but for the price and true educational experience, home-made activities are far more worthwhile!

The box contained:

  • Duplo blocks
  • Rubber ducks with suckers on the back
  • Magnetic numbers and dinosaurs
  • Velcro hair rollers and felt
  • foam hair curlers
  • plastic turtle baby toy

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J began playing with the duck.  He grabbed a book from his library to stick the duck down and peel it off.  He thought the noise sounded funny so did this over and over again! He asked what the things were called that made the duck connect to the book and when I told him they were called suckers, he said, ‘Mummy, our shower mat has suckers on!’

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J then began playing with the hair curlers! First, he counted how many there were and lined them up as he did so…

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J has a magnet shaped like a horse shoe and is used to playing with it in the magnetic discovery box (the same tin I’m using here). However,  for this activity, I purposely removed it.  J made the hair curler into the shape of the magnet to see if it would stick to the tin!  This really made me smile as he truly is on a learning journey here!

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He then moved on from the hair curlers as he couldn’t figure out how to connect them!  He started to wrap the velcro rollers in the felt and offering them to me as a present.

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As he wrapped the rollers, he also discovered that they connected/stuck to the carpet.  He stuck them all in a row and then put his foot on it and said they were ‘roller skates!’

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J then went back to the curlers.  He started connecting them by curling them and trying to put them on top of each other, like a rainbow! They kept tipping over though so he tossed them aside yet again he moved on to something else.

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As J connected the turtles, he noticed that the tossed aside hair curlers had started to connect in a way he hadn’t thought of!

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This discovery filled him with joy as he had finally found a way to connect the curlers!!  As you can see from the top photograph, where I photographed the curlers before offering them to J, I had imagined he would twist them but this didn’t come out of the play session.  When I actually presented J with the items, they were all disconnected. This was a truly an activity open to interpretation and it just goes to show completely open ended play is far more powerful.  J played with this Discovery Box for over an hour and has been a firm favourite ever since.

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What did J learn?

  • Developed problem solving skills
  • Interpreted materials in own way
  • Used new language vocabulary
  • Developed critical thinking
  • Developed understanding of how different materials connect and their properties
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