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Thinking inside the CARDBOARD BOX ;)

"Have you ever wondered, why children are more interested in playing with the packaging/box of a toy instead of the toy itself ? The interest in a new toy does not last for very long....however they can play endlessly with the box in which the toy was packed or the box in which the toy arrived."

The answer is the countless possibilities in which a"cardboard box" can be used or played with. A "toy car" will always remain a "toy car" but an empty "cardboard box" can be; a bus, a car, a rickshaw, a house, a castle, a submarine, a television and the inexhaustible list can go on.

Cardboard boxes can actually help children build skills which even a very expensive toy cannot - i.e. Creativity, Imagination and Resourcefulness. Playing with cardboard boxes actually reaps in multiple benefits for the child and parent both. They are inexpensive, rather I can even refer to them as "complimentary toys" of different shapes and sizes which comes along with your daily needs at home. They can engage children for hours together and they can act as one of the best ply material even during a playdate.

We had Ms. A and her bestie Mr. V transform this cardboard box into the school bus and they had gala time pretending to be boarding and coming out of the school bus at various stops and even took names of their friends at various stops.

During another playdate I used two cardboard boxes and mounted it one over the other and the had the one on the top cropped up to have pretend screen and we had our television ready. I had both the children narrate their own stories via this pretend television.

Ms. A was after me to have her own doll house that's when the two of us decided to use all the cardboard boxes we had in the house to build a "Doll House" for her to play with. This activity turned out to be pretty successful and engaging as I had Ms. A contribute; by helping me put the glue and then pasting the colorful papers onto her doll house. She experienced great sense of achievement once we were done with it. To give the final touch we even added some fairy lights to the doll house :)

One of the days while Ms. A expressed her desire to paint then I thought of again putting one of the cardboard boxes to use ;) and fortunately the one I had was big enough and she could sit inside and all I had to do was give her some paints and we had another super exiting activity on the go!

Then one day we had the awwww moment when Ms. A flipped the cardboard box and made it into one of her cozy corner and sat to eat her favorite fruit :)

Therefore the best kind of play with cardboard boxes is unstructured play - just giving children the opportunity to explore an open-ended material without an end result in mind. And I am sure your children would surprise you with their creativity and imagination. You can also team up the cardboard boxes with some other loose parts or unstructured play material too and have the children unfold themselves completely. The loose parts could include anything, I have listed down a few for your reference:

  • toilet paper rolls
  • beads of various colors, shapes and sizes
  • animal or other figurines
  • wooden blocks
  • small size cardboard boxes or tetra packs
  • pots & pans
  • wool
  • tape
  • paints
  • marker pens
  • cushions
  • blankets
  • scarves
  • old phone
  • paper
  • leaves and flowers from the garden
  • mirror
  • dolls

Also do not restrict children with the space of usage of the cardboard boxes, you can even allow them to take this outdoors too and I am sure you will see them beaming with joy.

You may also like to refer to this wonderful preschool book called 'Christina Katerina and the Box' by Patricia Lee Gauch. Available on This book is a story about a little girl and her love of boxes.

If you happen to try this with your child at home do share your story in comments, I would be more than glad to hear from you :)