Do you wish you could throw away all your kid’s toys? Are you sick of picking them up or stepping on them? My kids are tiny toy hoarders and I am constantly negotiating with them as I try to guide them through a less materialistic life.
If I ask them during a massive toy purge if it’s okay to donate some of their toys, they will tell me EVERYTHING is special. Which I have a hard time believing since they didn’t take care of it, lost half the pieces, and threw it in the toilet during their last creative game. So I have stopped asking their permission and started smuggling toys out of the house when they aren’t paying attention.
I especially hate all the crappy goody bag/ happy meal toys that my kids collect as if they are valuable collector’s items. If I’m honest, I hate 90% of ALL their toys and I secretly love when they break so I can throw them away without feeling like a mean mommy. But the cheap vending machine type ones are by far the worst.
If you have some of these same problems, letter boxes might be the answer for you. It won’t help you with the bigger toys but it will certainly help with the smaller nickncaks and with broken or misfit toy pieces.
I love everything about this wonderful activity for toddlers. Growing up, letter boxes were a wonderful part of my Montessori education. So when my mother started making a set of letter boxes for her grand-kids, it brought back all kinds of memories.
The first step is to collect 26 boxes, preferably the same size. We used these easy to open, medium size Tupperware boxes. You start by labeling each box with a letter of the alphabet. We laminated ours so that the kids can trace the letters with a dry erase marker.
The next step is to go through all your kid’s toys and all your junk drawers looking for objects to put in each letter box. Rouge puzzle pieces are one of my favorites. Normally they are the first thing I throw away, but now they can have a second chance at life with a new home in a cozy letter box. Some of the letters like “X” and “Z” are hard so we had to go out and buy some things for them. But you can also print out some pictures and we had some letter flash cards that helped us fill those less used letters.
Once we had a big collection of toys, we threw them all in a big bowl and let the kids help us sort them. This step is only done in the beginning because after that, the toys stay in their boxes. You can add to the boxes any time throughout the year as you step on random forgotten toys.
Once everything is all sorted out, you can begin playing with your letter boxes. You can have your child pick a box, or you can choose for them. You can try doing a letter each day, or you can pick a letter and ask them to find it. We set our letter boxes up on a small shelf.
Your child should have a small mat or towel on which they will do their activity. The letter box should be opened and the child should take one object out at a time and place it on the mat. As you go through all the objects in the letter box, you make the sound of the letter when saying the name of the object. After, your child can play with their toys on their matt until they are ready to clean them up. Once again, while putting the objects away, you say the name of the object and make the sound of the first letter.
For older kids you can pick two or three letter boxes, mix the contents in the bowl and have them put the objects in the correct letter boxes.
Isn’t this such a nice, organized activity? My boys had a ball playing with Nana’s letter boxes and I was happy to get rid of and re-purpose a bunch of their toys. Here are some videos of Nana teaching my boys with her letter boxes. I hope it will give you a better idea of how the activity works.