I get super skeptical when I purchase toys, even the ones that are educational. Why?
Mariam is forever growing, and I never know what she’ll play with or what she’ll put down.
I am totally okay with spending money on my child, and I know every dollar spent on learning is worth it. To be honest, it’s a lot more fun and comforting to try my hand at a little DIY before diving deep on an expensive item.
This is a simple and inexpensive DIY you can do for less that $7.
The original Montessori-inspired coin box comes with a drawer that reveals the coins that have been dropped within the box. The coin box I have created has a lid, so if you do attempt this, make sure your child is able to open lids or is in the process of learning how to.
The actual box ($3) is from Hobby Lobby and is made of a tough cardboard material. You can also get a similar gift box from the Dollar Tree. Note: you gotta keep your eyes open for these, because they don’t always have them. Also try Michaels!
The wooden coins are also from Hobby Lobby and only cost $2 for 9 coins.
THAT’S 5 DOLLARS, GUYS!
I am including a step by step on how I made this box into a fun and educational activity for Mariam.
If you want to make this DIY more interesting, you can paint the coins and parts of the box. See more information on what I did with the paint below.
The skills practiced with this activity are both fine motor skills and object permanence (the child recognizes that the coins are still in the box even though you can’t see them).
DIY Montessori-Inspired Coin Drop activity
Please see my tips for this DIY at the bottom of this post labeled ***
– Box of your choice (Hobby Lobby – $3)
– Wooden nickel coins (Hobby Lobby – $2)
-Red acrylic paint (Apple Barrel from Walmart – $.50)
-Exacto knife (or something sharp to cut a slit through to fit the coins through)
Step 1 – You first want to get an idea of how big the slit will be. I did this by holding the coin down on the lid and making a light cut where the bottom tip touches the top of the box.
This doesn’t have to be perfect! The idea is to have a slit large enough to fit the wooden coin into.
After making a light marking, use an Exacto knife to make the slit bigger, and adjust it as you see fit.
Step 2 – Paint the coins.
I bought non-toxic red paint from Wal Mart to coat the wooden coins. The brand is Apple Barrel and only costs 50 cents. I picked the matte finish. I wasn’t going for anything fancy.
I did some research about what paints would be safe for my daughter to handle, be it she decides to put part of a coin in her mouth (almost inevitable with a toddler).
In order for a paint to be seriously considered ‘non-toxic’, the product has to have a stamp from the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI). This makes the product certified non-toxic. The Apple Barrel brand, a branch of Plaid Paint, is certified non-toxic (see image below for stamp). To learn more about Plaid paints and the brands that are certified non-toxic, click here.
Back to the project!! Painting the coins and parts of the box will make the activity more appealing to your child and easier to distinguish the differences in the materials to be used.
Carefully follow the following when painting: Apply a thin layer of paint (no need to use a ton). Also, you need to paint ONE side of each of the coins first, let that one side dry, then paint the other side of each coin. If you jump into dipping the whole coin in paint, you’re left with coins that will stick to wherever you let them dry. Be patient so this comes out looking right.
After you paint both sides and give them ample time to dry, you can then paint the coin edges and let them dry.
Step 3 – Paint the bottom part of the box (OPTIONAL)
I wanted my daughter to be able to distinguish the top of the box from the bottom. I painted the bottom part red and left the top plain.
And you’re done!
Remember to give your child time to explore this activity and don’t expect them to get it right the first few times. It took my daughter a while to get this, but she eventually did and it was a lot of fun to see her enjoy something I did myself.
Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning on trying this DIY Montessori-inspired coin drop activity.
1- Make sure that the craft box you buy can fit in little hands. I bought two craft boxes, one smaller than the other, and my daughter had a hard time grasping the larger box so that she could open it successfully.
2- When deciding what parts to paint, make sure you don’t paint the lid to the craft box. My daughter likes to open the box by grabbing the lid with her mouth. For this reason, I left the lid plain.
3- You don’t have to use all nine coins (or how many ever you buy). Three or four coins are plenty for your child to practice with for this activity.