You can spend lots of hours and dollars getting the perfect toy for that favorite child in your life, hoping for the right combination of developmental appropriateness and joyful fun. And then what happens? The box, not the toy itself, turns out to be the star of the show.
It can be both puzzling and fascinating to watch a child “make” a toy out of seemingly ordinary objects and play for hours. Why is she so interested in the tub that the alphabet magnets came in, rather than the magnetic letters themselves? Why has that huge refrigerator box taken over our living room?
Relax. As long as you are sure it’s completely safe, there is no need to discourage kids from finding the play in a “toy” that was never intended to be one. Kids are endlessly creative, and the box gives a child the room to exercise his imagination.
That’s why the National Toy Hall of Fame recently inducted The Cardboard Box to take its place among iconic childhood playthings like crayons, marbles, puzzles, and alphabet blocks. “Over the years, children sensed the possibilities inherent in cardboard boxes,” notes the Toy Hall of Fame. “Small boxes take on alternate roles as dollhouse furniture. Wheels drawn on the side turn a box into a car. Really large boxes—from washers, stoves, big-screen TVs, or refrigerators—can offer children even greater opportunity for creativity. Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own, one where anything is possible.”
What’s so great about boxes is that they are a “blank slate” type of toy. The play in so many of today’s toys is pre-engineered for children. Characters’ personalities have been developed already on TV, or a chip imbedded in the toy directs the play, or the ‘rules’ for using the toy leave little for the child to imagine. Boxes let kids make it up themselves.
Here are some quick and easy ideas for parents to redeploy those cardboard boxes around the house…and encourage their child’s creativity at the same time:
 http://www.strongmuseum.org/NTHoF/boxframeset.html, 3-20-07
Provided By Susan J. Oliver, Tropomedia
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your neighborhood toy store.