We’ve all been there. We painstakingly choose the perfect present for our child and she only wants to play with the box.
Early childhood educator, Nicola Armanini, in New Westminster, BC, says, “Kids love every day things: boxes, string, wood cuts. These objects inspire imaginative play.”
Luckily, cardboard boxes are free and plentiful. Grocery stores will happily supply you with all you can carry. Whether it be creative, dramatic or constructive play, boxes stretch kids’ minds and patience as they imagine, stack, sort and build.
Collect a few smaller boxes, remove the flaps and stack them for your baby or toddler. Want to add a splash of colour? Attach fabric swatches with non-toxic glue and let their little hands explore.
At this stage you are your baby’s favourite toy, so simple baby games like peek-a-boo are a huge hit. Grab a bigger box and hide behind the flaps (both babies and toddlers love doors that open and close) they’ll be crawling over in a flash and giggling for more.
“Toddlers love anything that can fit inside, so big boxes are a big hit,” explains Armanini. “They love to get physical and be a part of things.” Build a series of tunnels to crawl through or simply throw some boxes in the backyard and let your toddler’s imagination run wild.
Got energy? Put your child in a box and pull them around the house as fast as your feet will carry you. You’ll relish the cheers: “More, Mommy, more!” Once you’ve had your turn suggest they take their dolls or stuffies for a ride.
Longer term projects like building a fort can come as a welcome change for you and your kids. It’s easy to get tired of five-minute crafts that quickly end up in the recycling bin. Consider building a cardboard play house in your front yard where neighbours can join in. To keep your big kids playing longer, save your KD and Jello Boxes for a month and turn it into a play store.
“Imaginative play pushes us to think outside the box," says Armanini. "Kids will carry this early versatility and creative thinking with them, giving them more tools in the toolbox for years to come.”
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