We love our Mystery Box, you can see our DIY version here. The idea is very similar to the Stereognostic Bag, the child uses their sense of touch to identify the object/s in the box. The box works well for toddlers as it's harder for them to peek. Using only their hands the child develops their stereognostic sense, the child uses touch to form a mental picture of the object until they can identify or name the object.
Recently we have been using mystery boxes (or feely boxes) in a slightly different way. We have been using two smaller boxes (shoe boxes or tissue boxes would work for a DIY) side by side. Each box has only one arm hole. Each box contains objects from one theme for example hard or soft.
The child uses their sense of touch to identify what is in the box, but in addition to naming the object for example 'a block', I am more interested in what the child can feel and their commentary 'Ohhhh this hard and pointy'. We have been using opposites or items that provide a contrast side by side. I notice that my toddler is attracted to this work, he finds it irresistible, he loves to work out what the surprise is and to solve the mystery.
The boxes in these pictures (as below) have their lids removed, this is only to show you what is inside. When I do this activity with my toddler the lids are on so the child can't directly peer into the box.
What can you feel? For a toddler this is fantastic for language development too!
Cotton wool or yarn could work in the soft box too. I've encouraged my toddler to put a hand in each box, as pictured above. It's been interesting to see his response.
Heavy (stones) and light (feathers).
I like to use items from nature as their textures are interesting. Once my child has identified what is in the box, he continues to feel and touch all the items in the box.
Dry sand and a wet cloth.
Some other ideas I want to try include:
- Rough and smooth
- Hot and cold (could use a gel pack from the fridge/freezer and a warm heat/wheat bag)
- Fluffy, slippery, smooth and prickly as below.
I also like the idea of using sand, slime or water beads for an experience similar to a sensory tub, but where the child can only use touch.
I like this arrangement from an old 2014 Zart catalogue. Each box offers a different experience!