Empty household boxes make excellent teaching tools. Easy to come by, in a variety of shapes and sizes, cardboard and paperboard boxes are infinitely adaptable and generally free. Ask your students to bring an empty box and use any of the lesson plans ideas below to help your students learn.
Younger students can use their box for size comparison and measuring activities. Teachers can have students compare boxes with each other and develop relevant vocabulary. Lesson plans can direct students to measure the different dimensions of their box, compare holding capacity with other students, and even compare the weights of different items that can be used to fill the box. We’ve all faced the classic question, “Which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?” This way, students can discover the answer for themselves!
Elementary Language Arts
Empty household boxes can be used to create mystery word boxes, shadow boxes of favorite stories or they can be filled with plastic letters that are felt and identified by touch alone. (No peeking!) Lesson plans can incorporate boxes that have been filled with a variety of items that all start with the same letter or share some other attribute. Students then work in pairs or small groups to identify the items and solve the mystery. Empty boxes can also be used to create interactive interpretations of common concepts. The social interactions that take place during these classroom activities make them more than simply academic exercise.
Middle School Science
Science lessons plans can easily incorporate these affordable teaching tools. Students can be challenged to sprout beans in covered and uncovered boxes to explore the effects of light on plant growth, see if ice melts faster in a dark box on a windowsill than a light colored box on their desk or teachers can spark interest in engineering by challenging students to use their box to build a vehicle that will be used in a classroom racing event.
High School History
High school students are easily distracted and bored, making it a challenge to capture and retain their attention. Hands on classroom activities are more likely to be effective teaching tools and empty household boxes provide easy tools. Rather than having students suffer through rote memorization of dates and names throughout history, have them use their box to create a diorama, puppet show or other 3D image of whatever aspect of history is being studied.
Empty household boxes provide adaptability, affordability and easy access, making them a uniquely effective teaching tool for all learning styles, skills and ages. It is not necessary for teachers or schools to spend a lot of money on teaching materials when teachers are free to create lesson plans that make use of affordable materials and that address the learning styles and academic needs of their students.