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Egg Carton Treasure Box

As soon as kids can hold objects while moving, they seem driven to collect and cart things from one place to another.  It turns out that children are collectors by nature—and for good brain-building reasons. So, if kids naturally collect, and collecting is good for kids, parents have an easy onramp to a worthwhile activity—just head outside and hand them an empty egg carton. This simple (and cheap) tool helps to focus kids on collecting and noticing the many treasures that nature provides this time of year. Try some of our favorite prompts to get them started.

This activity is featured in our November calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here.

The Guide

Introduce the egg carton: 

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!"

Invite Play: 

Nature is full of treasures to discover in every season. Wonder together what treasures you might find in your outdoor space this time of year. What treasures can you find that are just the right size to fit in the cups of the egg carton?

Offer prompts to support play:

Invite kids to collect and sort using any of these prompts:
  • Sensory hunt: “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)?"
  • All the same: “Can you find things that are all the same color/shape/texture?”
  • All different: “Can you find something for each space that is a different color/shape/texture?
  • Guess the category: 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.
  • Watch a video version of this activity to spark even more ideas! 

What can kids do with their nature treasure collection? Make nature treasure designs with our Shapes of Love and Joy DIY, design a Nature Treasure Display, or take inspiration from squirrels and play nature treasure hide and seek with our Cache and Find DIY.

Need some ideas for those eggs inside your egg carton treasure box? Try out our Dye Eggs the Natural Way DIY or our Eggheads planting activity.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Transforming an ordinary household object like an egg carton into a special treasure box is a super way to support kids' creativity and divergent thinking, the ability to imagine many different possibilities in a given situation. As kids choose what objects to collect and how to sort them, they activate focus skills, observation and categorization. Noticing the treasures that nature provides in each season where you live helps kids connect to the earth and become more aware of the cycles and rhythms of the natural world. Plus, collecting is one of the universally common behaviors called schema that parents worldwide recognize and that experts believe are important for brain development. Watch this video to learn more!
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