Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Explore Box

For Katie Anne's birthday, Erin, Ella, and Jason gave her a very neat present... an Explore Box! When we were playing with it a few days ago, I thought I'd snap some pictures and do a blog post about it because I bet it is something a lot of other moms would like to put together. It also makes a great creative gift!
The Explore Box starts with a big plastic container full of sand and digging toys.
Then, there's lots of little bags full of items to dig for ... little dinosaurs, frogs, lizards, and snakes; tiny smiley face erasers; gold coins; magnetic letters and numbers; etc! (Warn your husband before he takes it upon himself to play Explorer Box while you're not at home ... we like to keep things separated. Do not pack Ziploc bags back into the box with all the little pieces all mixed together. Play with them all mixed up? Sure. Put them away all mixed up? Oh, no. They all like to live in their own little baggie homes. No mixing. Momma don't like no mixing.)
Throw in some cool little "explorer" items like a spyglass, magnifying glasses, and a kaleidoscope, and you're ready to explore!
We do so many fun things with the Explore Box. Of course, we bury things and dig them up. However, this type of activity leads to soooo many opportunities to think and talk and learn, especially about Katie Anne's favorite subject - math. We count things as we bury them and find them. We hide two or three or four kinds of things and sort them as we find them. We name colors as we find items. We describe the things we find. So many teachable moments hidden in the Explore Box!
And, most importantly ... Katie Anne loves it!

Obviously, the Explore Box is an outside toy. Are you wondering why we didn't play with it outside? Oh, we did ... for about five minutes, after we sprayed down heavily with Off's kid-friendly bug spray.
It didn't work.
This poor little baby is a magnet for mosquitoes. These pictures were made just minutes after I realized that mosquitoes were biting her, even with the bug spray on, and we moved our exploring adventure into the garage. Even when coated down with bug spray (we're now trying brand #4 with no luck), Katie Anne draws mosquitoes like moths to a flame. And, she is severely allergic to them ... even if she doesn't scratch them, they welt up, swell, develop into a nasty knot, and hurt her terribly. She cried for three days with these bug bites. We need to buy stock in Cortaid and Benadryl. Look at that nasty blister that's already coming up on the bite on her foot. Poor baby girl!
Regardless of the mosquito issues, the Explore Box is a really fun, engaging, learning kit. Katie Anne asks to play with it at least once a week. I am glad Erin came up with this great idea for Katie Anne, and I encourage anyone who is a parent to a toddler to steal her concept!
Thanks, Erin!


Jason, Erin, and Ella said...

I am sooooooo glad you guys like the explore box!!!! I love to see Katie Anne playing with our gift:)

Lana said...

This is an incredible idea!

And poor KA, I know the feeling with mosquito bites - I have the same problem! I use Campho-Phenique on mine, even when I was about her age.

Carrie Beth said...

Handley got one of these for her b-day from Ella too and LOVES playing with it. She asks for it every time we go out in our garage!

Pat said...

Try to coat her down with Skin So SOft by Avon... mosquitos love me too and this is the only thing that works for me!