What do kids do after Christmas? They play with boxes! Was your floor covered with paper and boxes?
With all those new things for Christmas, adults can’t figure out the attraction of boxes, but kids are sometimes over-stimulated (!?!) and need to “debrief”. One of the ways they do this is with play where they make up the ideas and the rules. A plain, ordinary box comes with no limits, no instructions, and no expectations. Kids are in control in their own zone. So, let kids play with cardboard boxes before recycling and encourage their development and readiness for kindergarten.
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. This kind of play–being able to adapt an ordinary object for a specific purpose–is not just a childhood or kindergarten readiness skill. We all need to do this and we do it everyday.
Imagination and creativity don’t end with childhood–that’s where they start growing. Think of a cardboard box as nutrition for the spirit of play. Did you know that a cardboard box’s role as a toy is so recognized that it is included in the U.S. National Toy Hall? There are dozens of kids’ books written about playing with boxes, including this one A Box Can Be Many Things, and even some websites! How does your child play with boxes? (Could that be why some countries call the day after Christmas Boxing Day? 🙂