Pre-pandemic, we had scheduled monthly deliveries for my youngest son’s nappies, as well as some cleaning supplies and toilet paper. They always arrive in giant boxes. With deliveries sustaining a lot of the nations none food essentials and no access to the local recycling centre, I’m sure we all have more delivery debris than normal. Let’s make it work for us!
1. Let them in on the action
Unless you’ve got birthday presents or Easter eggs arriving, let your little ones peel the tape and stickers off the box. It can be very satisfying. My girls do take ownership of the box at this point. They know that if I’m encouraging them to open the box, the packaging is theirs for the taking.
2. The humble cardboard box
Don’t underestimate the power of a really very giant cardboard box. I’ve seen the rockets and boats and adorable shops you can create with a cardboard box. I’ve also seen my girls happily sat in a box colouring and contained for anything from half an hour to an entire afternoon. Three days in a row. Here are my top tips on delivery day;
- Size matters. If more than one child is using the box make sure they can sit cross-legged comfortably. If they can’t, wait until you have a box for each child tucked away. It’ll rip like kitchen paper if they are wrestling over space then all the fun ends promptly
- Drinks in cardboard boxes are a soggy plan
- Snacks in boxes are a solid plan
- Throw in some teddies
- Cover it in a sheet
- Poke a hole with a pencil or chopstick - my younger daughter finds this very satisfying
- Colour, colour everywhere
We do all of the above, in stages according to their moods and how available I am to assist.
As a small bonus, I recently spotted a wonderful idea @theplayathomemommawhere she sets the box up as an ocean on a blue blanket and surrounds it with any and all fish toys. My girls love playing pretend pond with the hula-hoop, so I’ll be sure to raid the bath toys and give this one a go next time we get a delivery.
3. Texture walk
What do you have? Bubble wrap, corrugated card, scrunched up plastic wrap, crinkly paper, foam noodles? They can all work to create a texture walk perfect for the under-fives. Our youngest daughter was only a few weeks old when she “participated” in her first texture walk, encouraged by her new big sister.
Attach each different material to some cardboard, or set them out in trays or box lids if you have them. I find this is the easiest way to keep everything in one space.
The texture walk is a lovely way to spend a morning; I usually save it as a surprise for when they wake up. It’s a great sensory activity and will be especially appreciated by children who are used to more regular sensory exploration outdoors. It’s also a much more manageable sensory activity than anything that uses store cupboard food right now!
4. Make a noise
Bubble wrap is hard for little fingers but great for stomping on. Introduce play cars for a bit of a different interaction, or the hammer from the play toolset if you have a small builder in the house.
Got a long reel of air pockets filling up the box? They can be pulled apart individually and burst with a pencil. That’s two activities in one for a two-year-old! You can absolutely jump on them too, but I find that noise just a little too much in the house. Be careful to remove the plastic once it has burst to keep everyone safe - we make gathering it all up and putting it in the bin part of the activity.
5. Giant-sized art
We made a giant rainbow this week, to put in our window. It took two days to complete and involved different art mediums. The added benefit to giant art is that many hands can fit around the project at any one time and there’s a great sense of teamwork. The reason I love cardboard for these projects? It doesn’t go soggy when enthusiastically covered in glue or paint.
If you have a stash of brown parcel paper in your delivery, you could do a big impression, small footprint art piece as mentioned last week in Practical tips on making your space work, using what you already have. We’re going to be working on an extra-tall tree next, to really accommodate the brown paper hues and welcome the spring season into our living space.
What do we do with the Ocean picture currently on our wall? I hand the camera over to the girls to thoroughly document it. Then they choose their favourite section to stick into their scrapbooks. It’s good practice, as far as keeping what you love, use and need goes. But it’s also just practical - we couldn’t keep physical copies of all of the artwork produced in this house!
These activities are always a hit with my children and usually result in high levels of engagement. Which is what you want when you go to the trouble of setting something up. Even if it does mean you have a cardboard box in the living room for a couple of days; I’m happy if they are happy.