Editor’s note: This post was updated on Sept. 8, 2021.
With a few clicks you can get just about anything delivered to your home. It’s (scary) simple, shockingly fast, and all too familiar nowadays. Boxes of all shapes and sizes show up on doorsteps and create cardboard congestion in recycling bins. The environmental impact of online shopping is real and rising, which is why these forgotten shipment shells deserve a second chance.
Not to mention that kids often find the most fun in an empty box of possibilities!
Check out these 12 ways to “unbox” play:
1. Indoor forts
Stuck inside on a blustery day? Use empty boxes and cardboard tubing to create a custom castle or fort. Add blankets and pillows for extra comfort and fun.
2. DIY wagon
Kids can push, pull, and slide around in makeshift cardboard wagons. When it’s time for a rest, see #3.
Grab some healthy snacks and pull up to the “drive-in” with a cardboard box car. If resources and space allows, project the movie in an outdoor space and enjoy under the stars.
4. Puppet theatre
A big box makes the perfect stage for puppets. Use toys and dolls from around the house, or make your own, and put on a show!
Related read: Making use of loose parts
5. Robot dress-up
Boxes of all shapes and sizes can be fit to make a robot costume. Tip: Use empty tissue boxes for robot shoes and cardboard tubing (cut length ways) for arms.
6. Cardboard sports
Hockey net, basketball hoop, skeeball ramp, mini putt target, bowling pins, etc. Cardboard can be an easy indoor solution for sports and activities.
7. Tunnel time
Cut out the tops and bottoms from different sized boxes and make tunnels for crawling. Tip: tape them together for a homemade maze.
8. Construction site
Kid-friendly cardboard construction tools make it easy to create and play.
9. Colouring cave
Jump inside an extra-large box for a four-walled colouring canvas.
10. Balloon baton
Flattened cardboard can be the foundation for a new town or city with roads mapped from edge to edge.
12. Pretend play
Cardboard can transform into almost anything: a food truck, rocket ship, kitchen, train, time machine… an empty box is full of possibilities.
Do you have other suggestions about what to do with cardboard boxes? Leave us a comment below to share your ideas.