Have you ever noticed that, after receiving a gift, kids seem to gravitate toward the box the gift came in? There’s something about cardboard boxes that lends to creativity, imagination and hours of play!
The next time you have a cardboard box laying around, try some of these creative ideas with your kids.
Feed the Monster
On the side of a cereal box, cut a medium-sized hole. Design a ‘monster’ surrounding the hole, making the hole the mouth. As kids are working on the alphabet, math problems or colors, they can ‘feed the monster’ the letter, number or color as an answer to the question.
Cut out two pieces of cardboard, with one side cut out and the other cut in (so they match when connected together). On one side, add a number. On the other side, add dots. On one side put a picture of an adult animal and on the other side put a baby animal. The options are endless and kids can learn to connect one with the other.
- Create a theatre stage for puppets and put on a play.
- Cut notches on the side of small pieces of cardboard. Connect the pieces at the notches and build a structure.
- Sit inside of a big cardboard box with markers and practice writing letters and numbers.
- Make a cardboard marble run. Tutorial here.
- Make a mailbox out of a cardboard box. Practice writing and addressing letters to family and friends, and put the letters in the mailbox.
- Make a bird house or bird feeder out of sturdy cardboard. Identify the birds that come to visit!
- Construct a giant pair of dice out of two square boxes. Use them to play giant number games that require dice.
- Create a geoboard. Place pushpins into a piece of flat cardboard, and then use rubber bands to create shapes.
- Make a counting abacus out of cardboard, yarn and beads. Tutorial here.
Motor Skill Practice
Poke holes through a small square box (use scissors to poke the small holes). Grab some brightly colored ribbon and tie a knot at the end. The knot should be large enough to prevent the entire string being pulled through. Thread the ribbon through the holes and out the other side of the box, making a knot on the opposite side. Let the kids take turns pulling the ribbon from one side of the box to the other.
Twist the tip of several golf tees into a cardboard box and according to age, give them a plastic hammer or small regular hammer for kids to nail the golf tees through the cardboard completely.
- Jump in and out of different sized boxes.
- Stack boxes on top of each other. Try to make a tower that’s taller than you without it toppling over.
- Create a trail using boxes. Try to get from one side of the house to the other by only stepping on boxes.
- Create a fine motor drop box for toddlers, with different shapes and colors. Tutorial here.
- Punch small holes in a box and have your child push straws through the holes.
- Place boxes around the room and try to throw balls into each box.
- Create a work of art! Make small holes in a box, and have your child push different colored pipe cleaners through the holes. Tutorial here.
Just For Fun
Separate the sides of the cardboard box, laying it flat on the ground. Let the kids design roadways, neighborhoods and more, creating a matchbox car ‘land’ to travel. Use pieces of the cardboard to make ramps and bridges.
Separate the cardboard to lay flat on the ground or leave together in box form and let the kids paint pictures or build one box on top of the other. Build a pretend castle or house. Draw large donuts or cookies on the cardboard for little painters to decorate the treats.
- Create a cardboard sculpture
- Make a cardboard outfit or costume.
- Build a castle. Tutorial here.
- Build a town for action figures or dolls.
- Channel the creativity of Caine’s Arcade and build your own arcade games, such as skee ball.
- Build a corn hole game.
- Use the boxes to build a tent or house.
- Build a car and “drive” around the house.
- Build a ship for bath time. See if you can add materials to it to make it float!
- Make a target golf game. Tutorial here.