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Educational Activities with Boxes

written by: Pam Cannon•edited by: BStone•updated: 2/6/2013

See how a simple, inexpensive resource like boxes can help prepare your child for school. Try these tips for great, stimulating activity.

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    Boxes Are Fun!

    2 COLOURED BOXES You will need:

    • Empty boxes of all shapes and sizes, carton from a large appliance, glue, old wallpaper books, egg cartons, buttons, a variety of balls, crayons, toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, box of colorful candy or raisins, or M&M's.
    • Suggested story books to share:
    • Goldilocks and the Three Bears : Traditional
    • A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman
    • Kate's Box by Kay Charao
    • Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman
    • How Many Bugs in a Box by David A. Carter
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    Color Match

    Color the sections of an egg carton in various colors and invite your child to put buttons or candies in the box to match the colors. Count how many of each color

    Skills: One-to-one correspondence, matching, color recognition.

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    Choose a big box and invite your child to put as many things as possible in it e.g. small cushions, toys, stuffed animals - but not baby brother or sister! Empty it and count the contents.

    Skills: Counting, measuring volume, capacity, observation skills.

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    If you are fortunate enough to obtain a child size boxuse it as the house of the Three Bears. Your child could 'decorate' the walls with crayons, pictures, or cut and paste pieces of wallpaper. Cut a 3-sided opening for the door and cut one or two window shapes - this is important as often children do not feel comfortable in dark spaces.

    Skills: (A great prop for storytelling, dramatic and creative play)

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    Boxes and Balls

    Start with three different size boxes and three different size balls (e.g. tennis, squash, golf). Cut a round hole in each box - make sure that the largest ball easily fits into at least one of the box holes. Invite your child to experiment to see which balls fit through which holes.

    Skills: Problem solving, eye-hand coordination, mathematical language e.g. big, little, bigger than, smaller than

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    Put out a variety of boxes without their lids. Have your child decorate them with stickers or crayons or cut and paste pictures. Then offer the lids one at a time and ask which box it belongs to.

    Skills: Matching, eye-hand co-ordination, comparing

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    The "ME" Box

    Make an "All About Me" box. Invite your child to cut out magazine or catalogue pictures of their favorite things - places, colors, pets, food. If they cannot find all the pictures that they need they could draw their own. Suggest that they print their name on the lid of the box and decorate it with crayons or markers or cut and paste pictures.

    Skills: expressing thoughts, creative thinking, small muscle co-ordination

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    Lots of Box Activities

    Sort your box collection from smallest to biggest. Then ask your child to reverse the order from biggest to smallest.

    Use one of the boxes e.g. a cereal box and cut the picture side of it into jig-saw style pieces. Store the jig-saw in a large envelope with an uncut picture of the same type box.

    Place shoe boxes on their sides and connect with large paper clips to form houses - one, two or three stories. Your child can decorate the walls of each room with wallpaper samples, add carpet or fabric swatches to the floors. They could make pipe cleaner dolls or cut out pictures of people and glue them to popsicle sticks.

    Make a shoe box into a mailbox by painting and decorating it. Make a slit in the lid. Use it for sending notes or pictures from you to your child or from your child to you.

    Give your child a box of raisins or candy and ask them to guess how many are in the box. Then empty the box and count them. Talk about fair shares and ask how many each you would have if you shared them equally. Invite your child to divide them up "one for you, one for me ..." Then enjoy a tasty snack!

    A toothpaste box makes a great body for an alligator. Just add green paper legs, jaws and a tail.

    Skills: Beginning mathematics skills, small muscle co-ordination, creative thinking, counting, estimating, dividing, imaginative play

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    And Finally ...... A Tool Box

    Do you have an old tool box? Put child-sized plastic tools in it. Discuss the correct name for each tool and what it is used for. Have your child trace around the shapes of each tool and then cut them out. Make a repeating pattern with several different tools e.g. scissors, scissors, pencil, hammer, scissors, scissors, pencil, hammer ....

    If a tool box and plastic tools are not available draw a simple tool box outline on a large piece of paper, and then provide your child with catalogues and advertisements from hardware stores. They can cut out their favorite tool pictures and paste them on the tool box. Remember to talk about each item and discuss its purpose.

    Kitchen utensils are also 'tools', as are items such as toothbrush, comb, hairbrush...You will have fun checking around the house for different kinds of tools

    Skills: Classification, analyzing, verbalizing, sorting, patterning