Lots of learning with a cardboard box!!

Today we were having a quiet inside day as we have had a busy couple of weeks and Isabel was not feeling 100% after a bad night. Normally a day at home can be really hard work but today was different because we had an empty cardboard box! Hooray!!! This box kept us entertained literally all day and the amount of learning that happened was amazing so I thought I would share with you what we did and highlight the learning that took place to show how many simple activities can help develop independence, creativity as well as practising new skills.

We started off by thinking about what we could turn the box into, after considering a princess carriage, a train, an ambulance, a fire engine, a boat or a yellow car we finally decided on a bus. Isabel wanted it to be a school bus so we thought about what colours we would need to paint it. Isabel decided on white with red writing on the side. We gathered the paint, trays and brushes and Isabel and Megan squirted the paint into their trays and started painting the box white. (Charlie was napping by this point- I didn’t have the energy to chase him around the house stopping him getting paint everywhere!!!)

What did we learn? Making a decision, thinking through the process and rejecting some for various reasons and finally coming to a decision. Being creative. Planning. Gathering resources, estimating the right amount of paint. Choosing the right type of paintbrush for the job- too small and it would take too long. Gross motor skills using long arm strokes to paint the side of the box.

Once the box was painted white, we thought about other parts of the bus that would be needed. Isabel decided it needed wheels, lights at the front and a steering wheel. We went through the recycling box to find boxes that would be the right size for the job. Isabel wanted to paint the plastic but soon realised it wasn’t going to work so I suggested sticking tissue paper onto the boxes. They were happy to try this out and were much more successful. We used this method to make the headlights and the steering wheel (which we then painted black after sticking on white tissue paper)

What did we learn? Using the knowledge Isabel already had of buses she decided she needed lights to drive in the dark, a steering wheel to go around corners and wheels to move. Choosing the correct size box for the job. Trial and error – knowing that if one way doesn’t work then to try another and not give up. Ripping the tissue paper is great for building the muscles in fingers which in turn helps children when writing. As we were doing this Isabel said “we are artists today aren’t we?” Daddy said “yes and an engineer for building your bus.” As the play progressed we realised we were many things like mathematicians and storytellers.

Next we painted on the wheels and Isabel painted her school name on the side of the bus. She was keen to get it right so wanted to practise it on a piece of paper first. She did a great job of sounding it out and writing down all the sounds she could hear, then when she was confident painted it onto the side of the bus.

What did we learn? Using phonic knowledge to write for a purpose.

After a lunch break and a play with other things the bus was dry enough for us to play with. Isabel decided that she would be the bus driver and needed a map. She went off and made herself a map which showed the way to the magic kingdom. She added a restaurant so we could have lunch and a couple of disney princesses we might see. She wrote start and finish on the map so we would know where to begin the journey and where it would end.

What did we learn? Early mapping skills. She knew the map didn’t need words and that she needed to draw points of interest to help show the way. It was also helping to structure her play as she already had a good idea about where the bus was going to go and what they were going to play.

Isabel then decided the bus driver needed to give tickets. I asked her how much the tickets would cost and she said 1p. I knew they have been learning money in school so I asked if she would like help to make some tickets and use real money with them. Isabel was very excited at the prospect of using real money in her game. We made tickets for 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p. Luckily I had some change in my purse so I asked her if she could match the coins with the ticket. She did that quickly, so I decided to see if she could do a bit more. I said as a bus driver you might get given different coins which make these numbers. I collected some 2p and 1p coins (unfortunately I didn’t have many 1p coins as this would have been ideal to start with, but I knew Isabel could count in 2’s so could cope with 2p coins) We looked at the 2p coin and I asked if there was a different way of making 2p. She said 1 penny and 1 penny and put them together. When we looked at 5p it took her a while to think, but used her fingers to count and looked at the coins available and eventually said 2p and 2p and 1p. When we looked at the 10p coin I knew this would be a big challenge. She knew 5 and 5 make 10 but there was only 1 5p coin. She started to get a bit anxious and wanted to give up so I showed her that she could do it as she had already for the 5p coin. After a bit of explaining and some demonstration she understood and made 10p with the 5p,2p,2p and 1p coin.

What did we learn? Maths- using money, addition, number facts. Not giving up- developing a growth mindset.

Finally the bus was ready for play. Isabel and Megan spent a good 40 minutes playing buses taking it in turns to be the driver or the passenger, buying their tickets with real money, driving to the magical kingdom, seeing the sights and having a picnic. It was great fun and we can’t wait to play with it again tomorrow- I wonder where the bus will take us?

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