Learning Through Box Play
The simplest of toys are the ones that inspire the most creativity and resourcefulness. The cardboard box – a carrier of stuff – in the hands of your child can be turned into a spaceship, car, pram, house, bed, artwork, drum or anything else that you, as an adult, you would never think of. Here’s how to turn a cardboard box into child’s play.
Start With Unwrapping
Every box that enters your house can be a special occasion for your child. If the delivery to your house comes in a box and is child friendly start by allowing your child to open the box. Taking off the wrapping and tape (some help may be required) is the start of your child’s fun with a box. You’ll find tearing off wrapping paper is particularly enjoyable for older babies and young children.
If you don’t have anything delivered in a box, ask for a box from your local supermarket. They are usually happy to get rid of them. Big boxes are good, but not so big that the box can’t be lifted and moved by your child. The act of carrying and arranging is important to the aspect of motor skill development in box play. A box alone is usually enough to start a child off on an adventure because, you allow your child to turn it into any kind of shelter, tool, or vehicle without the addition of other props. That’s creativity at work.
Social Skills Through Role Playing
However you can also consider adding other items like toilet rolls, cardboard tubes, foam bricks from packaging, and masking tape that’s easy to tear. Your child may want to arrange the box with other items or build something like a car or house with all the materials. Adding pegs and pieces of fabric will naturally encourage a child to build a tent or home-like structure. Building cars and houses leads to role playing, which teaches social skills.
Artistic Box Play
Aside from bigger props, smaller items can enhance box play. Items like corks, paddlepop sticks, seed pods, branches and leaves can be glued onto the box or used in other ways to decorate it or even inhabit the box. Offer paints and brushes to further decorate the box.
Box Play Combinations
Boxes can be added to other learning-through-play activities like sand tray or building blocks. Boxes are naturally transportable so they can be easily moved by you or your child to incorporate other items or activities. Try getting your child to decorate a box and then taking it to the sand pit or encouraging a dress up game with the box – to further enhance role-playing games.
By adding a range of fun items inside a box the child gets the delight of opening the box and then discovering those items to expand the box play. Use items that you have collected from outside the house like pine cones, large leaves, flowers, and strips of paper bark. Where possible combining the outdoors. Giving items like these for children to play with is a basic tenet of learning through play because it reinforces the importance and value of nature and the outdoors.
For an adult, playing with a box won’t seem like much fun. But for the curious mind of a small child, a box is a wealth of possibilities. Keep it simple and enjoy watching your child engage in the physical, creative and social aspects of this simple game.