Babies and toddlers love to fill things up and dump them out. They also love to play with things that “aren’t toys”! 🙂

Keep some plastic boxes/bins around and let their creativity lead them. Some of the best containers are the diaper boxes and empty wipes containers you already have in your house. The handles on the diaper boxes are great for pulling the box with various toys (or your baby) inside. Those slots also make good mailboxes! The wipes containers are magical since they have a lid that closes completely but also a slot to push objects through and then reach through to guess what could be inside. Fill them up with objects that make noise so that you can shake them or add items of different shapes and textures for your little one to pull out.

Once you’ve played the fill and dump game over and over… try these other ways to play with containers:

1) Make a shaker with an old water bottle using any small bead or bean or rice – might want to tape that lid on tightly.
“shake, shake, shake”
“ssssshhhh” – quietly
“aaaaaaa” – loudly
“your turn”, “my turn”

2) Fill a larger clear bin with water and then drop in dish soap to make bubbles. Splash some toys around for water play out of the bathtub – just put a towel under the bin. If the bin has a lid, shake it up to watch the toys and bubbles dance.

3) Use baskets or boxes as hats or other “peek-a-boo” accessories.
“peek – a – (boo)”
“I see you”
“where’s (baby)”, “where’s mommy”

4) For walkers, try empty shoe boxes on their feet and shuffle across the floor.
“swish”, “slide”
“in”, “out”
“big feet”
“go”, “stop”

5) Use them as drums, stack them as a tower, use them to teach “clean up”…. Just watch your baby and she’ll teach you even more ways to use containers in play!

6) Empty cardboard boxes can be boats, trains, cars, shopping carts, dump trucks, etc. etc.  Add a few stickers and crayons for decorating fun!

If you have a large plastic container at your house, try some of these ideas:

1. Bean bag tosscontainer
2. No bean bags? Try wads of paper “snowballs”
3. Fill it with beans… Shake shake shake
4. Fill it with rice and put in some colorful toys for a search and find type game
5. Other variations of similar activities: shredded tissue paper, packing foam, confetti…
6. Fill with water and go “fishing” for toys with a strainer or ladle
7. Fill with water and add dish soap for bubbles then “pop, pop, pop”
8. Fill with water and add food coloring for pizzazz
9. Storage for small toys, puzzle pieces, little people
10. If the storage container isn’t clear then it’s a mystery box… Who knows what fun thing you could pull out…Or touch/feel…

Don’t forget all of the communication opportunities…
1) Name the object/toy you find
2) Practice turn-taking “your turn”, “Mommy’s turn”
3) Allow for opportunities to model asking for “help”
4) “knock knock” on the lid to open
5) silly sounds “ooooo”, “shake shake”, “uh-oh”….

Want some toys to go WITH those containers?  Check out Best toys and gifts: a speech therapist’s list!


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