Grandparents can teach too

Kids’ boxes are more than packaging

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There are millions of boxes being delivered to front doors this winter. Sometimes what is in the box is not as fun as the container itself. Children can spend an amazing amount of entertainment time with these boxes.

Some children will cozy right in or under them with their blankets. They may peek out and simply greet you with a big satisfied peaceful smile and proceed to take a nap. Others will start throwing balls at the boxes or climb in their new car. Sometimes it is fun just to add the boxes to their toy corner and see what they will do without any prompting.

Minimum Preparation

If you need a cheap new toy or little project that will keep on giving here are a few successful and creative box ideas. Besides boxes and duct tape you might like these supplies: scissors or knife and an adult to do the cutting, glue and glue gun, colorful paper, markers or paints, a tarp or blanket to put under the project for easy pick up, paper plates for wheels and other circles, pencil and paper for planning, and a camera to share the project with relatives.

Exploration

Families can give children the gift and opportunity to explore, create, fail, reassess, problem solve and adjust. Free playing with boxes forms connections in the brain and inspires creative play, imagination, and engineering skills.

Sometimes family members will want to build with the children, but not take over the projects.

Here are some ideas:

• Make a house with real furniture or box furniture and appliances. A large box can become an office or construction area for Lego creations which confines the Lego pieces for easy cleanup.

• Make a castle with a draw bridge, a pirate ship, car, train, spaceship, bus, robot, store, series of tunnels, or a fort with LED ceiling lights for stars. 

• Make a puppet theatre.  Stuffed animals can be the puppets. Libraries offer check-out puppets.

• Construct play guitars with rubber bands and drum sets.

• Make a gravity box from a large flat piece of a box with a series of slanted troughs that guide marbles and small cars from one slanted trough to another until objects reach the floor. Cut the cores in half lengthwise. The tubes are duct taped alternately on one side and then the other. Tape one end to the side of the box and secure the bottom of the other end with more duct tape once you figure out the slant.

• Children can make angel and bird wings, crowns, shields, and swords covered with duct tape.

Check out “The Big Box” by Toni and Slade Morrison and “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis.

Esther Macalady is a retired schoolteacher in Golden. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons.

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