Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sweet, sweet mystery

Yesterday we needed a rainy day activity. Madelyn was sleeping and Jake's creative juices were flowing and together we came up with this: Mystery Boxes. Mystery boxes are tangible scavenger hunts (which require zero parental supervision). They are essentially windowed boxes which contain "treasures" that you can only find by shaking the box in different directions to view. A photographic "key" helps list all the items that need to be found.

How did we do this? We bought the jewelry-type box with windows on 5 sides from Michael's. Then, we covered all of the windows with blue painter's tape (you can do this ahead of time). Jake went around the house and found little knick-knacks that were important to him, but ones he knew he could never play with again. He decided to include gemstones, marbles, crayons, a crab-shaped sponge, a worry doll, seashells, etc. We put them all on a piece of paper and took a picture of all the items together. Now that we are done, Jake uses the laminated photograph of all of the items as a checklist for what he wants to find in the box. It acts as a "map" or a "key." Later, when he knows how to read, I will make a written checklist alongside the visual list and he can read what he is looking for. Here are some pictures of our rainy day activity:

finished mystery box - you can see some of Jake's "treasures" through the top window

all the windows taped up so that we don't get glue on them

tissue paper

jake's treasures, which will serve as our photographic "key"

colorfill floral filler which fills the box and hides the treasures - making it a challenge to find them

permanent glue used to seal the box closed

jake pouring the colorfill into the box

ready to add the treasures

adding his treasures 
glue around the rim

gluing the box closed

once the box is closed, we used glue and then modge podge to decorate the wood. Paint would work well, too
the masterpiece

I've gotten such a wonderful response from these mystery boxes. And today I found an idea on another blog that I thought was amazing.  I found it originally on
Instead of a mystery box, they featured a mystery ball:

These are mystery balls and you can fill them with treasures and give them as a gift. Check out the tutorial:


  1. Sure - I would've thought to do this on Earth Day...but only if my name was Kim (and it's not!) IU

  2. Thank you for very good blog about Exersaucers. It's very nice.