One of my very favorite books is Not a Box by Antionette Portis. Have you read it? It's simply a story about creativity. And it reveals an indisputable truth about childhood: there are few things in life better than playing with a cardboard box. The possibilities are endless!
So after a recent package was delivered, my son spent a day in the sunshine with his new boat, rocket ship, truck, (fill in the blank). First he painted it:
And then he "signed" his work with a hand print.
Not a Box inspires children (and reminds parents) that the most basic things are often the best vehicles for the imagination. Activities like transforming a cardboard box help children to think like a writer does -- making something out of nothing.
A few days after playing with this box, my son turned a couple of other boxes into a pickup truck. He added controls and a tailgate and spent many happy hours loading and unloading it with a variety of stuff. Then he did "demolition," ripping it apart bit by bit. (I reminded myself that ripping cardboard is excellent for strengthening the hands as I helped pick up a thousand tiny bits....)
Coincidentally, at the end of the week of the cardboard box we went to a local show that my Dad had gotten us tickets for (Thanks Papa!). It was put on by The Paperbag Players. Imagine my delight to see that all of the costumes, scenery, and props were fashioned out of some combination of paper bags and cardboard boxes. Enormous paper towel rolls came to life and were hysterical. They even had a wonderful part where they painted scenes on huge sheets of paper right in front of the audience. It was delightful and Jack was riveted. What a wonderful way to reinforce what he was learning through his own innovativeness. I couldn't have planned it better myself!