The Spring of 2020 will be remembered not for family gatherings, Easter egg hunts or vacations trips, but for world wide indoor quarantine. With more families trying to work from home and home school their children, normal indoor activities may become dull and boring overtime. With the growing closures of businesses here in the US, a majority of families may not have the ability to spend money on unnecessary items for activities.
With more people than ever ordering online or using store pick-up to increase social distancing, what do you do with all the leftover boxes? Great cardboard box activities of course!
To a child, an empty box is endless ideas of creativity and adventure. They can be used as forts, hide-and-seek (or peek-a-boo), cars, spaceships and a canvas for painting or drawing.
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Open End Play Cardboard Box Activities for Toddlers
Toddlers have a wonderful imagination. To encourage your child’s imagination, leave a large cardboard box out for them to explore. A large diaper box is the right size for sitting infants and toddlers to use as a car or wagon. My daughter recently discovered her leftover diaper box and enjoyed being pushed around the house. For older toddlers, you can transform their box into a car or favorite vehicle. Nothing a few markers and hot glue can’t fix.
Hand and Eye Coordination
If your child is interested in problem solving tasks, cut a few different size shapes or holes into a medium size box. Let your child learn to find the correct shape or object for each cut out.
Another favorite among Pinterest moms is a Ball Maze! This is a great activity for toddlers and school aged children. The Ball Maze is great for hand and eye coordination. Take any cereal box or shoe box, cut a hole in a corner of the box, place a ball inside and watch your child enjoy it! To make the game more challenging for older children, tape a few pieces of cardboard inside to create walls.
Unfortunately my daughter is just a bit young for this activity, but I know it will be a hit when she is a few months older. She did like watching daddy show her how to play.
She did love the ball toss. Lately, she has been very interested with tossing or rolling a ball. My parents had given me a set of sunflower yard stakes for Christmas and the box is the perfect size for her little hands.
I cut two of the holes bigger for her ball to fit through and left the other two smaller. Great for practicing problem solving skills!
Forts & Tunnels
If you have larger boxes or multiple boxes sitting around, make a tunnel or fort. Growing up, we made forts out of the dining room chairs and blankets everyday. We did not have Amazon back in the day.
Larger boxes are great to set up a tunnel maze for older toddlers or sensory play for infants.
For infants that are crawling, introduce a large box with a few hanging objects or toys to encourage them to crawl through. If your infant is not crawling just yet, lay your child on their back and let them bat at the hanging toys. You can even tape a few pieces of tissue paper, foil or a plastic bag near their feet to encourage kicking.
Painting and Coloring Cardboard Box Activities
This is a great indoor or outdoor activity. Young toddlers and infants will enjoy exploring the textures of the paint and the cardboard box. Older toddlers will enjoy seeing their imagination come to life in front of their eyes.
Painting For Infants
Infants and young toddlers that are still interested in eating everything, I recommend using edible paint. There are several different easy recipes to make:
- Yogurt and food coloring
- Whipcream and food coloring
- Jell-O and food coloring
The yogurt recipe is the easiest of the three to make. I used part of my daughters yogurt for this activity and a piece of cardboard from the ball maze activity above for her to paint on. To make edible yogurt paint:
To make edible yogurt paint:
- Purchase a large, cheap container of plain yogurt and food coloring of your choice.
- Measure out several scoops of yogurt into bowls or a muffin tin.
- Add several drops of food coloring and stir until mixed well.
You can even use small fruits or veggies as stamps or paint brushes!
I would have to say the painting activity was a hit! We have recently introduced utensils at feeding times and this activity will help her master that fine motor skill.
Painting & Coloring For Toddlers
For toddlers that are older, you can use craft or watercolor paints. Be sure to use washable paint incase of accidents or your child decides to start painting off the cardboard. I would also invest in a cheap painting smock like the one pictured below. You can never be too careful.
For more outdoor fun or to bring the outdoors in, introduce outdoor materials in your painting activity. You can select a variety of different shaped leaves, pinecones, sticks, rocks, etc. Your child can use these items as paintbrushes, stamps or learn to trace the different objects.