Ten Ways to Learn with Cardboard Boxes

building with boxes

If you can learn with cans, why not boxes?  We collected empty cardboard boxes for a few weeks to make “box blocks.”  For boxes that didn’t close on their own, I taped them shut.  The kids really got excited about adding to our box collection.  And we were able to see just how many boxes our family uses…and have a talk about the importance of recycling!  That is a learning experience in itself, but here are some other things you can teach with boxes…

learning with boxes

Common Core Standards appear in italics.  They correlate with specific standards in different grade levels.  These standards are used in almost every school in the country.  Click the Common Core tab above to learn more.)

  1. Colors- Talk about the different colors on the boxes, then divide them into groups or make a rainbow.
  2. Size- Compare sizes of boxes.  Put them in order from smallest to biggest.
  3. Counting– How many boxes in all?  Count how many you can stack in a tower.
  4. Addition and Subtraction– How many cereal boxes plus fruit snack boxes do we have? (first grade- Represent and solve problems involving addition and subtraction)
  5. Geometry- Talk about 2D vs 3D.  Use the word rectangular prism.  How many rectangles make up a box?   (kindergarten- Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional)
  6. Measurement- Use a ruler to measure boxes length, width, and depth. (second grade- Measure and estimate lengths in standard units)
  7. Classification- Sort the boxes into groups based on color, size, or type of food.   (kindergarten- Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count)
  8. Reading– Beginning readers might be able to read some of the labels using the picture as a clue.  If they know it is a pizza box, see if they can pick out the word “pizza.”
  9. Letters- Try to make letters or even words out of the small boxes.
  10. Creative building– Design your own sculpture with box blocks!

Or combine all the above into a scavenger hunt.  Scatter the boxes around the room and then shout out things to find.  “Find a green box and bring it to me.  Which box would we use to eat breakfast?  Find the largest box.  Can you find the letter T on a box?”  This is great way to get kids moving and learning at the same time.

cardboard box horse
cardboard box scultpure

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Puzzle Easter Egg Hunt

My girls love finding Easter eggs, so I had the idea of hiding puzzle pieces in them instead of candy.  This might be a fun way to give kids a new puzzle on Easter.  Or it can just be a fun non-treat egg hunt you can have around your house any day.

Confession: my original idea was to hide regular puzzle pieces in the eggs, but they didn’t fit. 😦  Never fear!  This Melissa & Doug alphabet puzzle worked perfectly.  Plus it had the added learning component of identifying the letter found in the egg and then finding its spot in the alphabet.  puzzle Easter egg hunt

  1. Place puzzle pieces in eggs and hide around the room (or outside).
  2. Bring in the kids and let them look for eggs!
  3. After finding an egg, the kiddo needs to run over to the puzzle and put in her piece before she hunts for another egg.
  4. To make it fair for younger players, you might want to have kids take turns finding eggs and adding pieces to the puzzle.  One kid can’t go find a second egg until everyone has found their first egg and so on.

puzzle pieces in Easter eggs

Gross Motor Games and Activities

All kids need some time to get the wiggles out.  Maybe they have been working on homework for awhile and their attention is wandering.  Or maybe everyone is cranky and could use some fresh air.  Doing a quick 5 or 10 minute physical activity will put everyone in a good mood.  Especially if you join in the fun.  Here are some gross motor activities to do in your back yard, in the park, or indoors if you have enough space.

  • Color Tag  Shout out a color and have the kids run and touch something that color.  Touching the color means you are safe on base, but if you tag them before they get there then they are “it.”
  • Follow the Leader  The kids get in a line behind you.  You start walking around (or skipping, or hopping, or flapping your arms, etc.), and the kids have to imitate your actions exactly.  Once they get the hang of it, take turns being the leader.
  • Red Light, Green Light  You stand on one side of the yard and they line up on the other side.  Every time you say green light they can run towards you, but when you say red light they have to stop.  If they don’t stop, they go back to the starting line.  This is a great activity to practice listening and bodily control.  Try crawling, skipping, or hopping on green lights.
  • Simon Says  This is another great way to practice listening skills.  For younger kids, say “Simon Says” for everything.  It takes enough concentration to listen and make their body do the actions, without trying to figure out if Simon said it or not.  For older kids, try “Simon says wash the dishes.” and see if you can get some chores done! 🙂
  • Activity Challenge  Older kids love a challenge.  Get a timer and see how long they can stand on one leg.  Or how many jumping jacks they can do in 30 seconds.  Or how fast they can run across the yard.  Write down their time to see if they can improve it next time.
  • Animal Charades  Preschoolers will love acting like their favorite animals and having you guess.  And it’s hilarious to watch mom or dad act like an elephant!
  • On, Under, Beside, Through  Call out directions like “Get UNDER the slide.”  “Sit ON the rock.”  For older kids, give them a sequence of three or four things to do.
  • Jump the Creek  Lay two sticks on the ground a few inches apart.  Ask your child to jump, hop, or leap over them.  Move the stickers farther apart to widen the creek after each jump.