Playing With Cardboard Boxes - Inspired by Not A Box

When we traveled to Toronto this past summer, we found a wonderful babysitter. She’s an educator, and during the interview, she and I talked about how much the kids loved the library, but we wouldn’t be in town long enough to qualify for a card. The first night she babysat for us, she showed up with a bunch of books from the library that she took out on her own card. It was such a kind gesture, and the kids read and re-read all those books for the two weeks we had them.

The kids fell in love with Not a Stick. It’s a great book about imaginative play and using an ordinary item to pretend play. My son had it memorized by the time we returned it. When we got back home, I decided to order that book, and then I discovered there’s Not a Box too! Since we love cardboard boxes so much, I thought this book would be perfect for us. These two books are still favorites in our house.

Feeling inspired, I took some cardboard boxes out, and reminded them about the book Not a Box. I told them that these cardboard boxes were their “not-a-boxes” and waited to see what the kids would create. I also took out our cardboard connectors and Duct Tape.

Initially, I gave them each one box, but I had extras on the side. My son said “I want to be like a ninja so no one can see me” and got into his right away. He asked for a bigger box so he would be more comfortable sitting in it. I took our old pirate ship and undid one of the sides so it would lay flat. He said “I can have my own personal house right here!” inside the box. He asked me to cut an entryway to make it easier for him to get in and out of his new house.

My daughter immediately got to work and said “I'm making a hello kitty pirate ship”. She eventually needed some extra boxes, and it turned into a fort. She wanted to expand her fort, so she added a little cardboard tunnel between a couple of boxes. My daughter added solar panels to hers, because every good fortress needs solar panels.

Suddenly now they were both making cool fortresses, getting paper and markers to decorate, bringing down stuffed animals to go inside, and bringing down blankets and pillows to get cozy. My son asked if he could sleep in his secret fortress that night.

At one point, they were both in my son’s fort and having a secret meeting. Too cute! They played for hours in the afternoon with these boxes. There was one little argument which was eventually smoothed over by an apology on a sticky note sent from one fort into the other.

I know they had an awesome time with their forts because they continued to play with them the next morning. They even ate breakfast inside their forts. Then they asked to move them from the kitchen into the living room.

They were creative and cooperative and it was enjoyable for everyone. I love when they can use their imaginations and recycling to have a good time!

What have your kids created with cardboard boxes?

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