Turning a shoebox into a surprise box helps children learn about object permanence: the knowledge that objects still exist when they disappear from view. Your child will also practice hand-eye coordination by removing a lid from a box and retrieving objects placed inside.
Find some small blocks, other toys, or household objects of similar sizes. Toddlers often find real household objects more interesting—just make sure the items are large enough that your toddler cannot choke on them. Put a toy or household object in the box or container and place the lid back on. Shake the box or container so your toddler hears something is inside. You can even take the lid off, show her briefly that something is inside, and replace the lid so she can remove it herself. Make sure the lid is secured loosely enough for your toddler to remove it.
Help your toddler discover where the toy went by taking off the lid. Act surprised when your toddler finds the toy in the box. For example, say, “What’s in the box? I don’t see it! Can you take the lid off? You found your car! It was hiding inside the box!” Toddlers may want to spend time putting the toy in and out of the container, and/or placing the lid on and off of the box or container, before hiding another toy.