The Power of a Cardboard Box
The Power of a Cardboard Box
You may have heard it said, or even witnessed it yourself, that children are fascinated by cardboard boxes. Setting aside their new toys, children will happily let their imaginations run wild when they get their hands on a cardboard box.
When this happens, it can often leave parents feeling disheartened. Especially at Christmas, when children disregard their presents only to immerse themselves in the packaging and wrapping!
There is a reason for this. This type of play supports children’s imagination and creativity more so than most modern-day toys for young children.
Cardboard boxes easily last for weeks, becoming something new each day and igniting the fantastic imagination in young children. Cardboard boxes can be boats, planes, dens, shops, animal beds… anything! They can be decorated, cut into new shapes, stuck onto other objects, and made into costumes. All of this creates endless hours of fun and creativity.
So, how can you make the most of cardboard box play?
Using Cardboard Boxes Effectively
Some simple and effective ways you can use cardboard boxes to support children’s natural curiosity and imagination include:
- Start by providing your child with one reasonably sized cardboard box; add scissors (if age-appropriate), paper, masking tape, pens, paint, brushes, and bits of materials that can be added to the box or stuck on and see what happens. If you don’t have any material, you may have some children’s clothes that no longer fit that you could cut up to support this activity.
- As the days continue, feel free to add more different-sized boxes and/or materials to the activity. (Your house may be covered in boxes for a little while, but think of all the fun!). This will support children to extend their existing play or even create new play opportunities using other boxes that have been added.
- For younger children, adults may need to provide the necessary springboard to spark the idea. Making simple suggestions about what the box might be can be the start of a new experience for children.
Ideas for Cardboard Box Play
Some ideas for cardboard box play that you can try at home include:
- Make a house. Cut open a window and a door, and let your child add cushions and other pieces that will fit. Children love to bring things of their own into these types of dens, so encourage them to bring their favourite toys in for them to play with.
- Transport is a popular one. Making cars, planes, buses, and trains is a simple but effective way to use a box. Using paper plates for wheels and the steering wheel will be a great addition to your box. Using offcuts of cardboard to add wings to your plane or to add seats will see your box upcycled in no time. Adding pens, crayons, or paints allows them to personalise this in their own way.
- In the early 90s, boxes were always used to make robots during a junk modelling session at school. That said, this remains a great way to use your box. Cut out a head hole and armholes, and let your child decorate the box with foil or shiny paper.
- Make a puppet show. Cut a doorway and a window on opposite sides of the box. Hang a curtain or offcut of material over the window and let your child put on a show for the family from inside the box. You could also make puppets to accompany this by cutting out characters from your box and using lollypop sticks or sticks from your garden for the handles.
- Use the box to encourage large-scale physical play. For example, turn it sideways to make a tunnel. Or your child could hide inside the box and jump out in a peek-a-boo-style activity.
- Using a large box, break it down so that it’s flat. You can then attach this to your garden fences outdoors to bring alive a large-scale painting activity that children will love.
We hope you found these ideas helpful and have a fantastic time exploring what can be created with cardboard boxes with your child.
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