1. Build It Up! Request donations of cardboard boxes including shoeboxes, jewelry boxes, gift boxes, food boxes, and appliance boxes. Fill the lighter weight boxes with rolled newspaper to make them sturdy. Use clear packing tape to secure the lids or flaps. Temporarily replace your wooden blocks with the various cardboard boxes in the block area and invite the children to use them. Ask them to compare the sizes, shapes, weights, and sturdiness of the different boxes.
2. Measure for Measure. Invite the children to use the boxes for measuring, asking them to find out things like how many shoeboxes tall they are. Record their answers. Now, ask them to lie down on the floor and measure the length of their bodies using the smallest boxes. Encourage them to estimate how many boxes long they will be. Afterward, compare their estimation with the actual answer. How many boxes long or wide is the classroom?
3. All Aboard! Collect several medium-size appliance boxes that will hold one or two children. Share a story about trains. Tell the children that they will use the boxes to make a train themselves. Provide them with smocks, paintbrushes, and tempera paint and invite them to paint their train. Attach the boxes to one another with twine and place the train in your dramatic-play or outdoor area.
4. Sort It Out. Children can use the boxes for sorting. Place a variety of boxes on the floor and invite a small group of children to sort them. Invite them to describe their arrangements. How many ways did they sort the boxes?
5. Get Organized! Boxes can also be used to teach about seriation when children organize the boxes in size order. They can line up boxes by size order, stack them, or nest them inside another box, arranged from largest to smallest.