Family Time Calendar: Fun with Empty Boxes

The holiday presents are opened, and the empty boxes are still everywhere. More than one-third of garbage in the United States comes from packaging, but some of those boxes can be reused for crafty fun!

Touch and Feel Box: Find a box that can be covered or taped shut, then cut an "X" shape into one side. Before sealing, add several small tactile objects to the box, such as a plastic race car, crayon, brush, paper clip, rubber ball, cotton ball, etc. Challenge kids to push a hand through the X and try to identify the objects inside by touch only.

Lacing Box: Take the lid of a box (like a shoe box) and punch two parallel rows of holes in it. Have kids practice lacing and tying a long shoelace through the holes.

Fort, Castle or Secret Hideaway: The classic use for an oversized box -- check with your local appliance store for empties if you don't have one on hand. Have kids decorate it inside and out with markers and construction paper cutouts. An adult can cut windows and a door with a plasterboard knife.

Train: Four similarly sized boxes can be strung together to form a train. Attach a length of string to pull the train along. Cut out cardboard circles for wheels. Stand a box upright in the first "train car" to form an engine and add a cardboard tube "smokestack" with cotton "smoke." Decorate with tempera paint, if desired (Don't forget to paint the caboose red!)

Dollhouse: Find four similarly sized boxes with one open side. Stack them and attach with tape to form a basic dollhouse ready for a youngster's interior decoration.


Garage: From one box, cut out two or three "garage doors" that can be lifted up and down to accommodate toy vehicles.

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