Big exciting projects are often really simple , this cardboard box dream house is a kids craft anyone can make, and best of all it will get played with after too! We have officially given up nap ( can you hear me crying? ) and my little man is not one for ” Just go upstairs and play sweetie.” He needs a plan and last Friday our plan included making this super cool cardboard dream house after he read books quietly in bed, and played with his trains in his room. Having a big fun project was a great treat to do after he had alone time , which is not at all his nature and taking us some time to get used to.
- Gather your materials. You will need a cardboard box, strong scissors, a marker, tape, and crayons or markers and some toy people.
- Start by cutting the box into the shape you want. We made it into a house but you can make a castle, school, hospital…
- Next add whatever windows doors etc.. you want in marker . My son was not into this at all, he was like ” Make a few windows mom.”
- Color! He was MUCH more into this. I couldn’t get a good picture because he was coloring so quickly, and pressing so hard we broke every crayon we used. It was awesome!
- While they color ask them what furniture they want. If they are old enough have them make it themselves. For little guys I find if you make furniture you end up with better play than a plain box. It definitely sparked good imaginative play for us.
- Color the furniture .
- Cut out and add tape to the back. Stick the furniture to the walls.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one. The book teaches about sea creatures, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable .
How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons. In this book readers are taken from the architect’s desk to the day the family moves in with just the right amount of detail about all the intermediate steps. Each worker and what they contribute to building a house is explained briefly, from the laying of the foundation, the carpenters who frame the house and even the landscapers who lay the sod. If you have a little builder in your house they will love reading about the steps and many people who help build a house.
Eek! There’s A Mouse in the House by Wong Herbert Yee is a silly book with wonderful rhymes and engaging pictures. In other words it’s a great kids book. In it a mouse gets in the house and to fix it a little girl sends in larger and larger animals until all reason is thrown out the window and an elephant shows up. My son while protesting me reading him a board book ( it’s for babies he said) couldn’t help but giggle at how silly this book was and was rhyming a long. I think this would make a wonderful book to read to a baby and toddler or preschooler pair, the rhythm of the book will delight a baby and toddlers on up will laugh and rhyme while you read it.
This game was a big hit with my 3 year old son. It evolved into so many things. I love activities like that. When your kids can take it in any direction they would like and they are still learning while playing, that is my kind of fun.
My neighbor sells jewelry in her spare time. She gives me the jewelry boxes after she hosts a party. Now if you do not have a neighbor that gives you jewelry boxes (which most of you don’t) you can always use different sized shoe boxes or even food storage containers from your kitchen. Anything that has a detachable lid.
Place your different size boxes out on the table. Put the lids near them, but make sure to not have them in the same positions as the boxes.
Have your child put the lids on the boxes. This is great for shape learning, deductive reasoning, and just plain out fun.
My son asked if we could put things inside the boxes. So I got items that were all different from each other. I grabbed a crayon, craft poms, a decorative marble, and a crumbled piece of paper.
I had him close his eyes while I put these items in different boxes. After he opened his eyes I asked him to figure out which item was in each box. I even drew a little sketch of the different items on a scratch piece of paper so he could remember what he trying to figure out. It worked great because he crossed through the items when he figured them out. It was fun to watch his techniques for figuring out which items were in which box. He would shake, he would tilt from side to side, and he would put one in each hand to compare the weight. I was really impressed. I told him to do whatever he needed to do to figure it out, but he couldn’t open the boxes.
After that fun, this turned into a building activity. The boxes were a city and the craft poms became tress and bushes, while the crayon was a man. I love a preschooler’s imagination!
Now don’t think this was just for preschoolers. My 21 month old got in on the action, too. She matched up the lids.
She shook the boxes to learn the difference between the sounds the different items made. I opened the boxes with her before and after she shook them. I had to be very careful about the poms and the marble. Those items required this activity to be a closely monitored one for her age.
Her learning also evolved. The boxes got stacked and made into a bed for her doll. Soon all of the boxes made there way into the backs of various dump trucks where they continued to be played with in many ways.
So start looking around your house for boxes and containers with lids. Watch and see where your kids take this activity. Then come back and let us know. I know I would love to read about it.
Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself.