During this holiday season, adults carefully choose toys to give to children only to notice the children spending as much if not more time playing with the box the toy came in. To those who work with young children, this comes as no surprise. Open ended, real life objects, like boxes, are low-cost sources of endless creativity and enjoyment. The cardboard box is even in the National Toy Hall of Fame (http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys/cardboard-box)!
In November, the Kohl Children’s Museum staff brought in a wide range of boxes from home, put them in the Adventures in Art studio, added some simple art supplies and let the children create and recreate a cityscape. The activity was loosely tied to the children’s book Abuela by Arthur Dorros, one of the books featured in our visiting exhibit Storyland, but children were encouraged to create and add whatever they wanted to our rapidly growing city.
The children worked individually and collaboratively to create detailed buildings, planes and cars, gardens, replicas of the museum and so much more.
Each building was unique and represented the experiences of the child who created it. We had a room filled with boxes, and none of them looked the same.
Whether you end up with a collection of small boxes or just one large box at the end of the holiday season, we highly recommend saving them and letting your children get creative. Don’t take our word for it, check out these award winning short films featuring cardboard boxes:
The Adventures of a Cardboard Box by Studiocanoe
Caine’s Arcade by Nirvan Mullick