Monday, March 4, 2019

Give a kid a box

Does anyone remember when a box was the greatest thing to play with? I would make all kinds of things out of boxes--from Barbie condos and cars to homes for critters found in the wild! Do kids even do that stuff anymore? Not for long once the growth sprouts in their hands.

I see kids younger and younger playing on devices--I cringe or shake my head every time. I hate seeing the world deteriorate into mindless, addicted zombies. Where has all the real life interaction gone? I really love my school for outlawing phones during the school day and sticking to it! The kids seem much more engaged than at most other schools.

I continue to promote creativity and imagination without technology (as you read this on a screen, ugh). And I still love boxes and use them for all sorts of things. So, here are some non-screen activity ideas for kids with just a box!

  • Large boxes
    • Pretend Vehicles and TVs are good old standards for large boxes.
    • Puppet shows are great fun and imagination stirrers.
    • Forts are always a big hit--and if you don't have enough boxes, use sheets and chairs!
    • We made a Fun House Tunnel once and it was hilarious!
    • Open them up and cut them up for armor or props or sliding down a grassy hill!
    • Paint on them or use them under art projects
    • Large boxes are also great for keeping bigger toys organized

  • Smaller boxes
    • Tissue and shoe boxes are a perfect size for vehicles or furniture for stuffed friends and action figures
    • boxes are great for making up games, like tossing stuff into them or stacking them...
    • Even toy-makers know the value of a box, selling brick-painted boxes for kids to build with. How nice of them--but I say, collect your tissue boxes and you're all set!
      not what I had in mind
      but this is cool!
    • Plant herbs or flowers and watch them grow
    • Make a photo box for grandma
    • I used to make robots with my little guys out of the cardboard and duct tape
    • These boxes are also great for storing the small stuff--from art supplies to happy meal toys
These are just a few suggestions. And though you know you can find tons of ideas and instructional videos online, sometimes sitting down with the kids and brainstorming creativity yourselves is part of the fun. We have to keep trying to balance tech with hands-on. Make those brains work instead of vegging out looking at a screen all day!

I'd love to hear your suggestions, too. Old or new, boxes are fantastic imagination kick-starters!


  1. Hi Tara - I agree ... anything is possible ... get them to be creative ... make stars for Christmas, rabbits for Easter - lots of painting to be done ... and flowers for your Mother's Day in May ... and animals love boxes too - cheers Hilary

  2. We love cardboard boxes! The sheer amount of possibilities of things to do with them is nearly endless. When our children were little and we didn't have a toy box I covered sturdy cardboard boxes with patterned contact paper. It worked great!

    Currently our seven year old is practicing his cutting skills on cardboard boxes. Someone gave him a pocket knife and it was begging to be used. Cardboard boxes and careful supervision have provided hours of fun the past few weeks.


  3. These days kids learn to use a phone before they can use a spoon. I used to love to play with boxed. I made forts and playhouses. I did this for my daughter when she was small too.

  4. The kids my sister cares for LOVE to play with cardboard boxes—the bigger the better. A lot of the time, they like the box a lot more than what came inside of it.

    I love that cardboard castle. I think I'll build one of those for myself!

  5. Hilary Bo Bilary - love your visits! Thanks! And my doggie LOVES to play with boxes, I meant to mention that...

    Joyful Chaos - great name! and practicing on boxes with supervision is a great idea! thanks for stopping by

    Lisa - it's a shame, isn't it? and our parents thought us watching too much "boob tube" was bad!

    MJ - nice to see you here! I miss those fort/castle days with my boys! I wouldn't mind an adult fort -- and you could make a sand castle!

  6. I don't remember playing with boxes, but as I grew up during the Second World War, we probably didn't get much in the way of boxes. However, we did play outside a lot and invent places to act as shelters or hideaways. We invented all kinds of stuff and communicated by voice, not phone. That kind of thing develops a child's brain and inventiveness, I don't think phones do.

  7. Cardboard boxes are the best! Although we don't get enough big ones to build cars and such (and kids are older), they discover neat building ideas on youtube like gumball machines, dispensers, cameras, fairy houses, pinball machines, marble mazes...I could go on and on and on.

  8. Boxes are so much fun! My son had a big air/heating unit box that he refused to let us throw away for like almost two years! He spent so much time in that box. :) This week, I sent a bunch of shoe boxes and cereal boxes to school with him because the class is making leprechaun traps.

  9. I gave up scrap booking and decorated a shoe box for each boy to hold the memorabilia in until I have time to scrapbook them properly.


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