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- Kick off: Show kids your empty egg carton and say: "Do you know what this is?" Then, announce: "This is NOT an egg carton! This is.... your very own treasure box!"
- Prompt to enhance learning: You can either set them loose to collect as they desire or give them a prompt to suggest what kind of treasure to seek. Here are some examples:
- Whatever looks interesting (ages 2+)—“Would you like to fill your box with things that you like/that look really neat?”
- Sensory hunt (ages 3+)—“Do you think you can fill your treasure box with things that feel really neat/soft/rough? What if you used your nose (ears) to hunt and filled your box with things that smell (make a sound)?"
- Size (ages 2-4)—”What things can you find that are just the right size to fit in these cups? What objects are too big?”
- Simple categories (ages 2+)—As soon as children start to sort things by category (most 2 year olds can do this), they can hunt for objects that fit a particular category. Easy "starter" categories include things with interesting or similar color, shape or texture.
- Fine motor practice (ages 3+)—Get or make tweezers for kids to use to pick up and add items to their egg carton treasure box—a great way to develop fine motor skills.
- High level categories (ages 4+)—Older children may be able to search for 6 different things that are alike in a more abstract way, further developing the ability to make connections. Such categories might include: things animals eat; things that creep or crawl; parts of a plant; things that your best friend would love; things that your brother/sister would find icky; things that would make great features for a mud face; etc.
- All different (ages 4+)—To help kids understand the differences between things, encourage them to collect things that are all different in a certain category. Some examples: all different colors, all different textures or all different smells. Note: This is more challenging than it sounds, especially if you use the whole dozen.
- Guess the category (ages 5+)—Let kids pick their own category as they search. Then, as they show you their collection, you guess what the 6 objects have in common.
Why is this activity great for kids?
Finally, the process of collecting and the final collections themselves are both reflections of your child. Help develop your child's communication and language skills by asking them questions that get them chatting and thinking. Some examples: How did you find these treasures? Which is your favorite and why? What would you look for if you had one more cup to fill in your treasure box and why?; How are the treasures in your box similar? How are they different? Who else might like this collection and why do you think so?
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