DIY tugging box for young toddlers

Great activity for babies and young toddlers. Make your own DIY tugging box!
Give a toddler a box of tissues or baby wipes and you can be sure that within seconds they end up all over the floors. I know you know what I’m talking about – hahaha.
It is part of a child’s natural response to pull at things and to see what happens. It also doesn’t matter how many times they receive the same outcome they continue to test theories and experiment, which is all part of their learning journey.
With this in mind I’ve made a tugging box. It’s so simple to make at home and it will have your little one entertained and learning through play in no time.
  • Cardboard box
  • Various lengths of ribbon, strips of felt and/or pipe cleaners
  • Sticky tape
  • Pencil
  • Paint (optional)
How to make a DIY tugging box for young toddlers
  1. Puncture holes into a box and paint
  2. Thread various lengths of ribbon through two holes and tie knots at the ends. Use a pipe cleaner (as shown above) to help with threading.
  3. Seal box with tape

Cause and Effect

I wanted to create a cause and effect response when Possum used this box so I threaded each end of ribbon through two different holes (see middle image above). I made sure there was going to be enough length so that when Possum tugged at one end it would cause the ribbon to lengthen but shorten on the opposite end. 
This also allowed the box to be a continuous form of entertainment and learning tool.
Sensory Experience
The various ribbons, felt strips and large pipe cleaners created a wonderful sensory experience too. Little Possum took lots of time feeling the textures and the little knots that were created on the ends.
Fine Motor Skills
Hand / Eye co-ordination
As an added task to this tugging box I gave Possum a few pipe cleaners so she could build on her hand/eye co-ordination as well as her fine motor skills. It was also a opportunity to test her patients.
Concentrating and aiming the ends into the vacant holes was the aim of the game. Through trial and error she found that by holding the pipe cleaner at the end and closer to the hole she would have greater success.

Investigation & Exploration
Children often like to investigate to know why and how something works. I chose to satisfy Possum’s curiosity and allow her to see what was happening within the box at the conclusion of this activity.

So much learning can be achieved by making a simple tugging box for young toddlers. 
I hope you have enjoyed learning about this great idea for toddlers. If you’d like to see another similar idea to this found on Laughing Kids Learn click here.

Does your toddler like to pull at things? 

More ideas you’ll love –

Invitation to play with pasta and playdough     DIY simple paper planes for kids on a windy day   DIY Zipper sensory board for kids

Popular ebooks featuring Laughing Kids Learn 

Zero to Two: Book of Play    Three to Five Playful Preschool ad


    • says

      Oh that is such a lovely thing to say Kelly, thank you. What a compliment. I’m sure you would have done some terrific things with your children when they were little.
      Thank you so much for commenting.

    • Marlene says

      As an OT I love this idea for some preschoolers! If you come up with an idea for a stronger box, I’d like to add some ropes & coated chains as well!

    • says

      It can always be something your little one can play with a revisit as his interest returns. Have it in his play area and all those little moment of learning will add up. :)
      Thanks for your comment Eva.

  1. says

    Hi Kate, thanks for the fantastic idea! I made one but my daughter (10 months old) didn’t like it as much as I thought she would. I’ll just keep it in the storage and take it out sometime later..maybe she’ll like it when she’s older.

  2. says

    This is FABULOUS! What a clever idea, I love that you can use all sorts of colours and textures and change out the fabrics to whatever you like to keep it interesting. Fantastic play idea for a baby, too awesome.

  3. Cynthia Mollison says

    Thanks for the idea! I made it for my 18-month old daughter and it kept her exploring and very entertained for a good while. Great learning activity and easy to make!

  4. phyllis says

    I have a daycare and do many motor skill activities and have not thought of this. What a creative mind you have. Can’t wait for my little ones to try this out! Thank you

  5. says

    This is such a great idea! And yes on the tissue front, we have to more careful with our tissue boxes than our wires! My 18 month old could sit for hours with a tissue box. We will most definitely be making this!

      • ivona says

        I’m totally making this :) thank you for the post.

        P.s. research the position in which your tiny stays, I read something awful about it. Very bad for the hips. Very, very bad.

        Thank you again for the idea :)

        • Kate says

          Hi Ivona!
          Thank you for your comments. I hope your own tugging box is a great success.
          I appreciate your concern over her sitting position and will look into it.

  6. Andrea says

    I will be making this soon maybe using the cord off of gift bag handles. Do you think adding a weight onto some of the cords to automatically pull them back in would be OK or would it just confuse the concept you are trying to teach?

    • Kate says

      Hi Andrea! Thanks for your comment and I’m so thrilled you’re going to give this idea a go. I adore your idea of using the cords off gift bag handles! I have so many around the house. You could absolutely add weight to the cords if you wanted to. It would still teach them about cause and effect, when they pull the cord then it results in it disappearing into the box. I guess with the way I designed this idea it is more that they can visually see that by pulling one end they can actually see another end disappearing. If it were me, I’d keep it simple because you might gain more as a result, however, it’s absolutely not imperative. Best wishes with it Andre and feel free to get back to me and let me know how you got on. :) Thanks again for your comment.

  7. Amanda W says

    I found this post and just had to try it. I’m looking for educational ideas for my 6 month old to help keep him busy while I homeschool his sister. The only thing I did different is I bought a sturdy plastic box with holes already in it from Dollar Tree and then tied big wood beads to the ends so all his furious tugging wouldn’t undo my work. I also for added safety hot glued the knots and beads. He LOVES his box and has more fun shaking it to hear the beads clack then anything right now.

    • Kate says

      Amanda I absolutely LOVE your thinking. Thank you so kindly for sharing your experience and how you have personalised this idea to suit your little one. My little Possum, now 2.5 years old, still loves her tugging box. Best wishes to you.


  1. […] DIY Tugging Box You know a box of tissues plus a baby equals a major cleanup job? Instead, create a tugging box for your little one — take away the mess and leave all the fun. Select a favorite style and design of ribbon, add a pipe cleaner or two, poke some holes and watch your curious crawler tug away. Find out how to make your own by checking out a great tutorial by craftmaster Kate at Laughing Kids Learn. […]

  2. […] I always joke with people that I don’t know why I spend money on toys when all my baby wants is a box! Isn’t that seriously how it goes? Well, you can add to that awesome box to make it that much better! Now instead of just a plain old box, you have created a learning opportunity out of that box!!! Find instructions here. […]

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