As every parent soon discovers, when you buy a toy for a 1-year-old, he's just as likely to play with the box. To capitalize on your toddler's interest in opening packages, gather a number of boxes with lids. (Shoe boxes work beautifully.) In each, place a textured object, such as a clean sponge, a soft ball of wool, a new scrub brush, a big ball of foil, a large sandpaper square, or a cold ice pack.
Watch your child's excitement as he discovers and handles each object. Talk about the different shapes and textures. If the boxes vary in size, place smaller ones inside larger ones to add another element of surprise. For 18- to 24-month-olds, create a memory game ("Which box has Mommy's keys?").