The Plastic Egg: Ideas for Infant and Toddler Play

The moniker “plastic egg” gives no indication of the value of this hand held open-ended treasure.

Time to Explore


Before they become known as candy capsules to my toddler and infant, these marvelous plastic egg-shaped containers are simply open-ended play things.


Instead of holiday-themed play, we reveled in using these small containers as just that – containers.


In some of our play provocations, you’ll notice that I tried to keep the eggs to one color to minimize unnecessary distraction so that the play itself would take center stage. The eggs themselves, of course, were not overlooked. After having some time to use the eggs without any prompts or other props, the girls (24 months & 9 months) were ready to use them in a variety of ways.


Guessing Play



I filled them with several things around the house for Greysen to discover. Without suggestion, she opened the eggs, and was thrilled to find the everyday things inside.


Sensory Play Accessory



Inspired by this play with eggs and rice here, I set the eggs alongside some cornmeal and spoons. Again, no directions. Greysen and her cousin J spent more than half an hour filling these containers, struggling to close them, only to empty them and start all over. Moon was more involved with the cornmeal than the eggs at this point.


Simple Shakers


I prepared four eggs shakers for Moon to encounter. Each egg was filled with varying amounts of dried beans for her to explore the concept of sound. Based on Dr. Montessori’s principle of isolating one factor, in this case sound, I kept all the other variables constant. That is, these eggs were all yellow, and were all filled with the same material – dry beans. That concept, coupled with RIE’s practice of giving infants toys without mysterious mechanisms that they can not see, is why I chose to use translucent eggs for her shakers.


I also taped them so that the contents wouldn’t be changed by our resident toddler, Greysen.


These did not turn out as visually appealing as I had envisioned, but they were shaken no less for it  . . . I think.


Sound-Matching Play


These six eggs were filled in pairs with three different types of things. The pairs included things I had on hand – bells, necklaces, and walnuts. Greysen shook an egg, and I prompted her to keep shaking the other eggs one at a time to look for its matching sound counterpart. She was as pleased as she looks to find each match.


Based on her guessing experiences, she easily identified the contents.



Transferring Activity




We first tried this Montessori-inspired transferring activity at the preschool our moms group sets up. Greysen was not yet ready at the time we first started doing it, so I have been eager to try this now that she is a bit older.  The tongs were a bit too long, but she was up to the challenge.  She persisted in this until she filled the crate. The full crate inspired her to crack the eggs and start cooking. I love when one idea seamlessly leads to the next.


For some more open-ended ways to present plastic eggs check these ideas out:






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