How to have Fun with Empty Boxes

To a small child, an empty box is not just a box- it’s a toy stuffed with exciting possibilities waiting to be discovered! Unwrap some fun, get organized and save money by making use of them. In the process, the whole family enjoys exercising imagination, creativity, and even the physical body. The child learns resourcefulness, co-operation, and improves manual dexterity and co-ordination.

A large, sturdy paper box with a handle on each side makes a great mini car for a baby or toddler, even without wheels. Simply drag it around the floor or dirt and say “Vroom-vroom!” If you do go with wheels, make holes in the bottom and  tie on old roller skates with rope.  When that gets old, pretend it’s a rocket or train instead and change the sound effects. Crayons, paint, stickers, glitter or glued on colored paper cut-outs enhance the fun. Decorate a second, similarly sized box and enjoy a race.

Jumping in and out of boxes is terrific fun for kids, so teach them how to play Jack-in-the-Box. Have them climb in a big box and tape the box closed, leaving just enough space for breathing. See how long you can fool other people before the child can stay hidden no longer. Yell, “Surprise!” and capture the moment with a photo or video. For many toddlers, the biggest challenge will be staying quiet. Use your boxes in a good game of hide-and-seek, an activity cats also enjoy.

Empty shoe box lids make excellent pretend skates.Walk around on a slick linoleum or hardwood floor with long strides, Experiment with different boxes with holes at the top , such as Kleenex boxes to serve as pretend slippers. See who has the funniest walk and can keep the boxes on their feet the longest. What kind of animal can you imitate with those on? A four-legged duck?  A hippo? A water strider insect?

Build forts out of a collection of small boxes. Stack the walls snow-fort style and make ammunition out of balls of crumpled-up newsprint. Take turns throwing them at each other’s forts and see whose holds up longest. Long, hollow rectangular boxes, such as those large garden tools or florescent light bulbs come in, make ideal play sabers. This is a very safe way to have a pretend duel as your favorite superheroes.

Empty boxes make terrific playhouses for Barbies and other small dolls or toys. For a Barbie house, find a box at least 18 inches tall and as many wide to allow two or three Barbies to interact and move around. Furnish it simply with recycled materials you have around your home already. For example, cover a Kleenex box with a doll blanket or scrap of material to make a bed and blanket. A cotton ball makes a fine pillow. A roll of toilet paper covered with material can be a futon. An empty candy box propped up by empty thread spools becomes the dining room table. Different sized small boxes can become many different small accessories for your various toys, as well as a way to store them safely. Have one large, sturdy box for all your Barbies and one for their possessions like vans, houses, and cars.

For nostalgia’s sake, flatten out small boxes of especially enjoyed, memorable treats and save them in a scrap book. For example, save a Crackerjack box you actually ate from at a ball game and put it in a scrapbook. Next to it, put a photo of Grampa and his little slugger enjoying the treat. Label it with the date and a cute caption. If you still have the box your Slinky came from all those years ago, save it even if the toy is broken. The box from commemorative treats, such as a chocolate storm trooper Clone Wars tie in, makes a good collectible for a Star Wars fan.