playing with boxes

Boxes + Paper Tubes = Christmas Fun for Kids

Two very simple ingredients stirred with imagination cook up some another Advent play-of-the-day: boxes + paper tubes = Christmas fun for kids and families.

empty box play

In the midst of adults trying to wrap presents kids are enjoying another tradition, playing with the empty boxes and the long wrapping paper tubes. Combined with imagination, these two objects, used together or separately, call to children to come and play. Why are they so appealing to kids?

This is play where kids are like creative elves. “A plain, ordinary box comes with no limits, no instructions, and no expectations. Kids are in control in their own zone….A cardboard box is not empty; just like our kids, it is full of potential. With imagination it can be anything: a camper, a boat, a bus, a house, a spaceship, a hospital, a fort, anything. It can be transportation to anywhere and as big as the universe or it can be exactly where it is as a small, but safe and secure area. While a box is a defined space, it is flexible for the needs of the child.”

A wrapping paper tube has almost as many possibilities. Beyond that of the best head-bonker, a paper tube can be a pirate’s saber, a knight’s sword, a bridge, tunnel, telescope, a marble road, a tree, cane, or wand. It’s fun for riding like a cowboy’s horse or Harry Potter’s broom. Whatever it is, the choice belongs to the child.

empty box transportation play

Toys are a major item at this time of year. The lowly cardboard box is considered a toy and recognized in the U.S. National Toy Hall. While we can’t call imagination a toy, it is certainly part of play. While you are busy with other things, with a box and paper tube children can also be busy moving their bodies and stretching their brains. Boxes + paper tubes = Christmas fun because children can fill them with play. Isn’t play a wonderful gift to give a child?

Transportation Activities #19: Empty Box Transportation Play

When is a box not a box? When it’s a car, bus, ship, train, rocket or other form of transportation. Empty box transportation play has no limits. Boxes come in a variety of sizes and are either square or rectangular, to start that is. With imagination they can become anything.

empty box play

  • This rocket ship is blasting off from a preschool and all the kids helped to make it.

play with a box

  • The pirate ship was made by three kids one very hot afternoon. After making it, they played with it for days.

empty box pirate play

  • Adults are not the only ones that drive cars. This one is child-size. Trips can be around the block, across the world, or deep into outer space.

empty box transportation play

  • “Leavin’ on a jet plane,” or stayin’ right at home. This box has flyin’ power.

empty box transportation play

An empty box only looks empty, it’s really filled with possibilities. Some children will use their box as a blank slate or canvas and spend their time drawing and coloring, gluing on treasures from the craft and recycling baskets, and decorating it both inside and out. Other children may leave the box quite plain and accessorize with their imaginations. Either way, it stimulates creativity and meets a child’s needs and interests.

Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, with a special interest in the human brain, says “The brain is an amazing thing. Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads.” With kids, we can’t see what the brain is doing, but we can see how hard kids are thinking when they play. In his bestseller, Brain Rules, Dr. Medina advises, “The greatest pediatric brain-boosting technology in the world, is probably a plain cardboard box…”Dr. John Medina

Empty box transportation play is great for kids of all ages and stages. Is there an empty box for your child’s play-of-the-day?

Kids Play with Anything #1: Child’s Play with Boxes

Inspired by April Fools and how kids can transform anything into a toy, this post explores child’s play with boxes. Kids are masters at having fun in different, and often for adults, quite unexpected ways.

play with a boxKids can turn adults into April Fools nearly every time they get a present in a box. Why? Because they play more with the box more than the toy. A box, like kids, isn’t empty. It’s full of potential. With imaginations, boxes can be a bus, boat, Elsa’s castle, a rocket, mountain, house, car, Rebel space station, pirate ship, a stove, hospital, airplane, store, restaurant, zoo, post office, and whatever else kids can imagine.

A box can be any size, but big ones are super fun. Kids can color on the box, using markers, crayons or paint, or leave it as is. Whatever a box is one day, it can be something entirely different another day. As kids play with a box, it is their space and they determine the rules and limits. They are in charge, which is quite a change from the usual.

box play activities for kidsBoxes are small, safe and secure spaces or gateways to the universe and beyond. Although a box has physical limitations, it doesn’t have any on imaginations. It is whatever a child needs at that particular moment in time. This kind of play–being able to adapt an ordinary object for a specific purpose–is a life skill. We all use this kind of creativity and flexibility.

Child’s play with boxes encourages the use of imagination and creativity. It also supports the development of other thinking skills, like organizing, collecting information, explaining, and more. Being able to use one object for another is a form of symbolic play. In her blog on kids and play, Laura Weldon wrote about “1,000 Ways To Play With a Cardboard Box.” Although it’s a small space, boxes also invite kids to move. They will crawl, squirm, curl up, and bend in a variety of ways in a box. How does your child play with a box?

Kids Bored? Einstein, Boredom, Creativity & Kids

Kids bored? According to 2 articles and a Google Doodle that could be a good thing. The 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity is the doodle. The articles talk about kids and creativity. There is a myth about Einstein, that he failed at math. This is quite untrue. Einstein was exceptional in math. What … Continue reading Kids Bored? Einstein, Boredom, Creativity & Kids

March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #12

Cinderella Inspires a Play-of-the-Day Cinderella is another fun fairy tale that can inspire play activities, not just for girls but boys also. Glass slippers and fairy godmothers are not required. Cinderella is not much liked by her step-mother and step-sisters and has to do all the work. When the prince invites everyone to a ball, … Continue reading March into Fun with Books, Stories, and Activities #12

Why is it Called Boxing Day? So Kids Can Play with Boxes!

Christmas might be over for another year, but the fun isn’t, because now comes Boxing Day, the day when kids get to play with the boxes! Sometimes, the new toys are put aside and the adults wonder why the kids are more attracted to the boxes or wrapping paper tubes. The answer involves two things … Continue reading Why is it Called Boxing Day? So Kids Can Play with Boxes!

Summer Fun, Kindergarten Readiness and Boxes

Playing with a box can stimulate fun and learning and support development and kindergarten readiness. For kids, there’s no need to think outside the box, just think box and all the fun there is to do with one. A plain, ordinary box comes with no limits, no instructions, and no expectations which means that children … Continue reading Summer Fun, Kindergarten Readiness and Boxes