Christmas Presents for Geeks – Touch Box

by Deb on November 12, 2010

Touch Bags

This is the fifth in my Christmas Presents for or from Science Geeks series, the previous ones can be found here.

This is a present I was aiming at babies and then we made it.  And spent a fair while playing with it ourselves, so now I can safely say it can be used by lots of different age groups.  It’s a very simple idea of a box or bag to hide things in and a selection of things to hide.  Players reach in and try to identify whatever is in there by touch alone.


  • Explore with their sense of touch and compare the feel of different things.fabric book
  • Get things out and put them back!
  • A never-ending ribbon – tie lots of ribbons or fabrics together and coil it up, there is a sense of adventure and surprise when it keeps coming.
  • Fabric books – get several fabrics with different textures and sew them together as shown here.


  • More getting out and putting in.
  • Treasure box to hold their current favourites.
  • Magic to pull something unexpected out.
  • Language development as they pull something out and name it (Pony!) or describe it without looking.

Older kids

  • Trying to identify items without looking makes them think.
  • Language for rich descriptions – rough, small, hard.
  • Collaboration as they can run the game for smaller siblings.

Touch Box

What makes this a lovely present is it can be made by an older sibling for a little one – I remember the big girl proudly decorating a tissue box with stickers for her little sister when they were much smaller.  We did something similar this week using glitter and some paper she’d already painted to cover it.  In the past I’ve made little reversible bags out of nice fabric (top), used gift bags or cut a hole in the lid of an icecream container.  Of course if you are really creative you could make it permanently out of wood, but for me it’s important for my kids to start making and giving presents because that’s the fun of Christmas!

This post is part of the We Play linkup at Childhood 101.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan, the Book Chook November 12, 2010 at 7:47 am

I love these ideas. I wrote about a similar one, a story box I use for language development in I also use an activity where I get the kids to ask questions first, ones that elicit yes/no answers, to help them narrow down the search, before they feel the object.
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Deb November 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

I love that story idea, the big girl would have so much fun with it. We used this sort of thing a lot when they were little because it is so good for language development. I haven’t had them ask questions before, we can do that for a bit of a change.


Glowless November 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

What great ideas! I’m going to try it out for my baby – he’ll be 6 months old at Christmas so he’ll be more interested in wrapping paper than toys so I don’t plan on getting him anything in particular… he won’t understand. One nice pressie for a photo op maybe? Hehe.
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Colleen - Sunrise Learning Lab November 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

Cool ideas!
Mine would have fun making these.
Thanks for sharing:)
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Trish November 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

what an excelelnt idea for imaginative play !
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tricia November 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Great idea! We’ll definately make one of these. Thanks for the inspiration.
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cathy@nurturestore November 16, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Great ideas. I love that you can upcycle materials to make it and that a child can make it as a present too. We’ve do a similar thing at Halloween with a ‘what’s in the sock?’ game – with lots of creepy things inside like monsters eyeballs (peeled grapes)! Thanks for sharing another great idea with us at the Play Academy.


Sarah Lyford November 16, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Just found your site through Planning Queen’s tweets…love it so much especially as my eldest (9 yr old boy) is a natural scientist and always wondering about things, wanting to invent things, wanting to experiment…will be back for more ideas for sure!

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JDaniel4's Mom November 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I have heard of using this idea with crayons. What fun!

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Candi November 21, 2010 at 2:45 am

This is really great. I have a friend that teaches primitive skills and he puts only natural items in his grab bag like one part of a giant lobster claw, pine cones, snake skins, and other fun stuff. he uses this for outdoor education and the kids love it. I never thought of doing this as a Christmas present – thanks for the idea.
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Christie - Childhood 101 November 22, 2010 at 5:30 pm

We have been having a lot of fun playing with a surprise bag game with a small calico bag.
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