“With nothing more than a little imagination, boxes can be transformed into forts or houses, spaceships or submarines, castles or caves. Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own, one where anything is possible.”- National Toy Hall of Fame
You don’t have to go to the extreme that the parents pictured in the photograph have done (see more on cardboardboxoffice.com) but a simple cardboard box can have your children, and maybe even you, entertained for hours on end. More than that though, a cardboard box build skills in children that the fancy toys in the shops or smartphones or tablets cannot. By being allowed to play with cardboard boxes children are encouraged to use their creativity, imagination and resourcefulness to build upon, transform and reinvent the basic cardboard box. We’ve identified the following domains of development and how a cardboard box provides the learning dimensions that help with the child’s development;
Physical Domain: when it comes to a child’s development the physical domain takes into account the body size, body proportions, appearance, motor development, coordination, perception capabilities and a child’s physical health. Cardboard boxes help development in this domain by teaching children about spatial awareness; how big they are in relation to the things around them. As a result, children are constantly testing their own size by crawling/ climbing in, through, around or over things. Cardboard boxes are often the perfect size for children to test this out on. Another aspect of the cardboard box that helps children with the physical domain is that cardboard boxes are often light-weight which enables young children to lift the boxes and move and manipulate them (this also helps empower the children because they can do it themselves).
Cognitive domain: deals with a child’s development through processes and intellectual abilities which include attention, memory, problem-solving, imagination, creativity as well as everyday knowledge and language. Empowering your child is a good way of developing your child’s cognitive abilities. A cardboard box helps in this sense because it makes a child feel big. Children live in a world where everything is made for ‘big people’, so feeling big themselves helps empower them and build their confidence. Cardboard boxes also help with asensory play. Nowadays children are so saturated with overstimulating toys and games (and smartphones and tablets) that sometimes, playing with something that doesn’t do anything, doesn’t smell like anything, doesn’t feel like much in particular can be a relief. It allows the child’s imagination to come life because the box can be anything the child wants it to be.
Social / Emotional Domain: this domain focuses on self-knowledge (self-esteem, sexual identity, ethnic identity), moral reasoning, understanding and expression of emotions, self-regulation, temperament, understanding others, interpersonal skills and friendships. Cardboard boxes can teach kids about comfort and security because there is an emotional component to seeking out small spaces, some have even likened it to a subconscious return to the womb. Control is another aspect of the Social / Emotional Domain, and by playing hide-and-seek or peekaboo with your child you can teach your child to be in control. Hiding, and knowing something you don’t know, empowers your child.
Unstructured play is a necessity for children, and handing your children a cardboard box is the perfect solution to explore the endless stretch of their imagination. Provide your child with some boxes (of all shapes and sizes), and maybe some other materials such as string, ropes, twine, wool, pegs, masking tape, glue, paints, paper etc. and let your child’s imagination and creativity run wild. You’ll thank us later.