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Low-Cost Activities, Plus Week in Review

Dear Elizabeth,
How can I create activities for my kids that won’t cost a lot?
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
  • A simple cardboard box can be the key to unlocking your child’s imagination.
  • Cardboard boxes provide endless opportunities for dramatic play.
  • Kids learn and develop through play – it’s how they make sense of their world.
Week in Review
Don’t forget about the great things that we learned this week: br>
Expert Advice
Moises Roman
Moises Roman
Imagination Expert
If you have young children, you know how expensive the latest toy can be. If your family is feeling financial pressure, those toys can feel even more out of reach. But did you know that the most recent inductees into the Toy Hall of Fame have cost next to nothing? Last year’s inductee: the stick. The year before: the kite. Our favorite hall of fame winner by far is the cardboard box.

There are lots of ways you can turn cardboard boxes into fun activities. You can turn the boxes into dramatic play props such as tunnels, castles, and airplanes which your children will play with for hours on end.

Start by finding and collecting medium and large cardboard boxes of different shapes and sizes. You can glue several long appliance boxes together to create a long tunnel for your children to climb through. You can even cut small portholes in the sides of the boxes of the tunnel you’ve created.

For an airplane, you can attach flat pieces of cardboard to create the wing. You can even create a biplane effect by attaching two pieces of cardboard with a cardboard roll serving as the column holding the wings together. You can cut a hole in the top of the box for your child pilot to sit in the “cockpit” of the airplane. You can cut out a cardboard propeller and attach to the nose of the plane.

To decorate the plane, castle or tunnel you’ve created, you and your child together can paint the boxes or cover the exterior surface with construction paper and stickers. The box can then be covered with contact paper or clear packing tape in order to protect the surface and make the box more durable.

Dramatic play activities such as these help children’s physical development. Children use various muscles to pull up, push, walk and move the boxes depending on their abilities. It also helps their critical thinking – the child will experiment with touching, feeling, pushing and maneuvering the boxes to see how they work. Finally, these activities can help children learn about cause and effect. When they investigate the box, they get an immediate response from the movement of the box.

Homemade Piggy Banks Featured Activity:
Homemade Piggy Banks
Child Care Provider of the Week Featured Video:
Child Care Provider of the Week
Topic: Play & Creativity
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