Bookishness, Mamaishness

Seriously – just give your kid a box.

This happened on Saturday. Bethany told me that she and Clara were building a clubhouse in the living room. I was doing dishes, so I told them to go for it.

free activity for preschoolers

Let me be clear – there was a bit of hesitation before I agreed to this. Bethany’s tendency is to hoard all things she touches, so I was afraid that this clubhouse would include every movable object in our house. Instead, she made a nicely contained clubhouse in a box. She also let her sister use it, which is not inconsequential. (Side note: do you see Clara’s discarded glasses just above the top right-hand corner of the box? She told us she took them off so she could go to sleep. Yeah, right.)

This consolidated and contained clubhouse should not be surprising, because Bethany’s current nesting phase typically occurs in laundry baskets. If I’m not careful, I have nowhere to put clean laundry, because she’ll have commandeered the baskets for her own personal nesting use.

free activity for preschoolers

This was the box that formerly held their outdoor seesaw. We had to keep this box for almost a month. This is what they did with it. They might have slept in here if we’d let them. Nothing fancy, but it sure did make them happy.

My point is this: you just never know what will work and what won’t work with kids. You can spend hours planning an awesome art project that your child will decimate in seconds. You can research beautifully designed math readiness activities for months, only to find out your child has a preference for the numbers two and seventeen, and will not do anything that does not involve those exact figures. Or, you can just let them have a great big box and make their own fun.

Sometimes, the path of least resistance isn’t so bad.

give your preschooler a box

If you’re looking for a book to edge this sort of fun along a little further, I’d recommend one of my favorites from Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge series. [amazon text=Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend&asin=0689808852] has poor Henry and his big dog Mudge stuck inside due to wet, yucky weather. In a moment of brilliance, Henry’s mom suggests using appliance boxes to make a castle in the basement.

While their creation is certainly more amazing than what’s likely to come out of this house, it is the sort of thing that inspires my girls to use their imaginations and create something of their own. If you’re not interested in turning cardboard boxes into things, though, I’d skip this book. Its ability to encourage action in small children is pretty intense.

{The book link above is an affiliate link, and Read It, Make It! receives a small percentage of purchases made using it. However, this is an easy book to find at almost every library, if you’d like to give it a try to spur on some cardboard box building at your house.}