Some of the best toys aren’t ones you buy from the store. Kids love playing with very simple things. With all of the flashy toys kids are surrounded with, sometimes a throw-back technology-free game is just what kids need. I’m always surprised at what a novelty some of the games I played as a kid are to my kids.
When it comes to low-tech toys it really doesn’t get much better than a cardboard box. They can provide hours of constructive creative play, which is great for a child’s development. If you have some extra boxes laying around, set your kids loose and let them create a cardboard box city. You won’t believe how long your kids will stay busy working on this and playing in it so it’s the perfect rainy day activity or project to work on when you have a friend over to play.
Cardboard Boxes of all shapes and sizes
Markers, Crayons, Colored Pencils
Wrapping paper, Extra Wall PaperGlue
Empty Paper Towel Rolls
Where to Find Cardboard Boxes
If you do not have extra boxes available to use for this pretend play activity you can easily get some by asking around. Family and friends may have extra boxes leftover from a move or large storage items not being used at home and would likely be glad to find some place to get rid of them.
Freecycle has groups all over the country. You can also usually find a local Facebook group that rehomes unused items. Find the group closest to you and make a request for extra boxes. This makes it easy to track down boxes for pretend play. All you need to do is pick them up.
Local hardware stores often have leftover refrigerator boxes that they would be happy to donate to a preschool. Most of these large boxes are flattened and thrown away. While boxes of any shape or size are useful and can help your preschoolers build a fun cardboard box city, refrigerator boxes are generally a favorite with preschoolers and would make a wonderful addition to this pretend play activity.
What To Do
Once you have collected all the materials you will need to build your cardboard box city, give your kids free reign to use their imagination. Boxes can be colored, cut, or have things glued to them. Doors and windows can be cut out of large boxes.
Let your kids glue old wall paper or wrapping paper to the inside or outside of the boxes. Carpet or wallpaper samples can be found for free through local stores simply by asking around. Many times these items are simply thrown away and stores are more than happy to donate their extras.
Use masking tape to tape the boxes together or attach empty toilet paper rolls or other miscellaneous items that preschoolers may want to use. Preschoolers will have fun creating their cardboard city as part of an ongoing pretend play center activity. You can add additional materials each day or provide the preschoolers with everything at once.
My kids play for hours and hours whenever I let them do this (which is a work at home mom’s dream). This project appeals to such a huge age range. My 2 year old loves it just as much as my 12 year old! There aren’t many projects that can do that.