DIY Discovery Box

My daughter is too young to pick out her own toys at the store. Basically she wants all of them, until we pick one up and she tries it out, and then she throws it to the ground while screaming at the top of her lungs, which I totally get, because that’s what I do when I go shopping for jeans.

So, I usually shop for toys on my own. And there are so many toys – beautiful, handmade, sustainable, organic, non-this, certified-that toys, that I could easily spend a thousand dollars on nothing but toys.

The toys that catch my eye tend to be inspired by nature; wooden animals, forest themed puzzles and books, and plush woodland animals.

But why spend money on a wooden leaf that will just get lost and/or broken and/or eaten, when the leaves we find on the ground provide just as much (or more) opportunity for play?

While clearing out some of the mountains of stuff I’ve accumulated I came across a stash of empty boxes. I cut them down to size and fit the small boxes into a larger box to create a divided tray. I lined the base of each box with a piece of white paper. I then placed (safe, non-toxic) plant items from our garden into the tray.

E spent time sorting, smelling, touching the items, and once she was done I threw them out. We have also taken this box to the beach to fill with shells, rocks, and driftwood, and will continue to take it with us to new environments to see what other treasures we can explore.


Cardboard Boxes
Natural Objects (ie. Herbs, leaves, twigs etc.)


  1. Cut boxes to fit in largest box or tray
  2. Line each box with white paper
  3. Place a natural item in each box



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