I've never met a child who didn't love a plain and simple cardboard box and all the possibilities it holds. Its truly the most versatile tool for imaginative play but they can also be transformed into a wide range of educational toys that don't break the bank! Here are just a few examples of the things we've used them for.
Cereal boxes are probably the most common box to hand and can easily be transformed into a letter box. I chose to turn the box inside out to avoid Dylan just being interested in the bright colours but thats not necessary although doesn't take much doing. I originally planned to cut different shapes for him to post through the slot but came across his giant floor puzzle while looking for paper and the pieces fit perfectly so it made this activity even easier to set up. He really enjoyed popping a piece in, hearing it drop then peaking through the slot to see where it had gone but his favourite thing by far was shaking the pieces back out again!
With a baby/toddler around your bound to have an abundance of nappy boxes and heres a super easy idea to make a toy that will not only keep them entertained but also help develop key motor skills and hand eye co-ordination. I purchased these coloured pegs in a pound shop and the string I already had but that can be picked up for pennys as well. I simply cut the top flaps of the box and then made 1 inch slits down each side, then using the string create a random spider web pattern on top. I showed Dylan how to slide the pegs onto the string and left him to it, he found it very tricky at first but soon got the hang of it. He discovered he could pop the peg onto the string then spin it round and it would drop down into the box, this was very satisfying for him.
Every now and again you'll buy something big and be left with a massive box and oh the possibilities! Dylan has been really into dragons for a while now (he loves Mike the Knight) so when we came upon this big box we thought nothing would be more fitting than a castle to play in. I knew before it was finished it would be a success as while cutting out the turrets Dylan was already trying to climb inside. I added windows and while cutting them decided it might be fun to leave one side attached so he could open and close them and it made for hours of peek-a-boo hilarity so that was a definite win! He also really enjoyed being able to lift the door back up to hide inside, the only issue was the box wasn't very stable so ment one of us had to hold it up the whole time which kinda dampened the fun a little, for us that is!
The next day I was away to recycle the pieces left behind from cutting the turrets and don't ask why because I don't know but I thought they would make good stepping stones. So I laid out a little path leading to the castle and demonstrated to Dylan how to step from one to the next. He was far more interested than I had imagined and although he wasn't really managing to step between them he had great fun trying.
After playing on the path we explored the peices in lots of different ways including using them to build towers. This really helped Dylan as it made more of a surface area for him to place the blocks on and he was far more interested in building towers than he normally is, he usually just smashes mine to the ground!