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The Box Factor

January 9, 2014

modified box


“With nothing more than a little imagination, boxes can be transformed into forts or houses, spaceships or submarines, castles or caves. Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own, one where anything is possible.” – National Toy Hall of Fame


With Christmas behind us there is no doubt an abundance of boxes at your disposal, and we’ve all seen the child that prefers the box to the present so why not explore  some fun ideas and learning opportunities with the humble box. A box is the ultimate open ended creative tool that fosters creativity, imagination and resourcefulness. Hopefully you will have a few recycled boxes left over from the festive season…


Open ended play

The best play comes from the children and their interests so you can simply leave the box in the art/home area and see what happens/suggest it as a prop for  role play/ encourage the reinvention of the box as a ….space shuttle etc.


The box as an essential prop

Boxes can also be made into various props for story bags , such as in ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’.boxprop copy

 Read a story to the children fand see where their imaginations lead – a box can turn into many things!

The humble box also helps to facilitate engineering skills as shown by Early Days Playgroup who made a rocket out of a box!



Boxes as Blocks or Bricks

Block play gives children hands on experience of constructing, of estimating, of trying, of succeeding and sometimes of failing.  This type of play allows children represent ideas and most importantly encourages play with others. It provides opportunities for practice in planning and provokes problem solving and thinking for themselves.  

Block building and large construction play allows for big physical movements and manoeuvrability, using your whole body to lift and position a block just where you want.  In block play we see the child as a problem solver (how do I keep this tower steady); learning about weight, size and shape.  Concepts of gravity, symmetry, stability and design all come into play when building a city or a den. Block building is the perfect way to support the development of early mathematics and physics skills and understandings.  


Whether you already have blocks or want to start, think about:

  •     Where are you locating the block area and is it free from through traffic
  •     Are the boundaries of the block area clear (either with shelving or matting)
  •     Are the blocks stored attractively and can children access them and tidy them up themselves
  •     Have you included accessories (figures, books, props) to maximise play opportunities
  •     Can children safeguard and leave their construction standing over time?
  •     Does your routine allow sufficient time for children to immerse themselves in construction play
  •     Do adults support the development of mathematical language and concepts in the block area
  •     Is there a camera available to children and adults to capture and document the process (steps and stages) of construction
  •     Do adults support children’s engagement in the block area


 Home made blocks from a box

In this video blocks have been made from cardboard and the children have engaged themselves in a wall building activity leading to all sorts of fabulous maths learning as they go, including problem solving, spatial awareness, cause and effect, exploring the properties of 3 D shapes and learning to co-operate.You could make the ‘bricks ‘ yourself using boxes, paint or by covering them in paper….



Make and Do


Easy Tambourine


• 2 cut out cardboard shapes (the same)
• Glue
• Bells
• Yarn or ribbon
• Paint and Brush

Have the children paint/colour in the  two pieces of round cardboard shapes that they have cut out. Once they’re dry glue them together. After they are securly in place punch holes around the outside edges. With yarn or ribbon, tie on the bells. Then make some music!

Useful Links

 Boxes have limitless potentional to become a bus, a den, an oven, a space station, a computer etc…we have included some visual links below for more ideas:

Some crafty box ideas:

Giant lacing with wool:


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