Got Boxes? How to Turn a Spare Box into a New Toy for Your Kids

Spare boxes can be so much more than a pile of cardboard to go out to the recycling bin. With a bit of creativity, you can create all sorts of new toys for your kids. What you make with a cardboard box may be their new favorite toy.

Shape Sorter

You can get creative by using a small box as a shape sorting toy. There are a number of benefits for toddlers to play with these toys, including teaching cause-and-effect and establishing motor skills. Simply create a bunch of shapes all over the box, such as stars, hearts, and triangles. Then, cut them out using a sharp knife. Your kids can, then, work on getting the shapes into the correct cutouts over the box. If you want to get fancy, consider coloring the different cutouts. This way, you can add some more learning by having them name the colors as well as the shapes.

Puppet Theater

Think about how much fun it would be to give sock puppets, string puppets, or even dolls their own theater to perform in. Old moving boxes are great for this project because they tend to be larger than your average Amazon box. Appliance boxes can work well for this, too. You can go as fancy as you want, cutting out certain aspects of the box out to create a stage. Then, you can hang fabric at the openings in order to form a curtain. It will make it a fun place for your kids to exercise their imagination. Plus, it can be used over and over again.

Robots

Robots have always been cool because of what they promise to be able to do for you. While you won’t be able to create the electronic components, cardboard box robots can provide fun for hours on end. Whether you create a cereal box robot or you use shoeboxes or other robots, you can decide what they’ll look like. Stack multiple boxes on top of each other and glue or tape them together. Use other household items like cups to create arms and legs. Then, let your kids go wild by adding some personalization using markers.

Roll up your sleeves and get a little creative. Find as many boxes as you can, in various sizes, so that you have more to work with. It can create hours of fun for you and your kids.

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Family Fun at the Huntington Library

The Huntington Library in San Marino, CA is a fantastic place to take your kids. The trick is to become a member. Members gain entrance to the facilities free. This place is truly amazing. It has several themed gardens, including a children’s garden. There will be a lot of walking, so if you have kids who are not in a stroller anymore, it is a great way to get exercise in a safe environment. There are several lakes and ponds, wildlife to enjoy and wonderful statues and architecture everywhere you look.

OVERALL PROS

Beautiful, clean, safe, full of learning opportunities, kid friendly high tea service

OVERALL CONS

No picnics allowed, pricey if you are not a member.


When I visited recently, I kept in mind activities that families could do while they visit the grounds.

  1. “Book” a Garden: There are 16 gardens to choose from. Each is spectacular. For toddlers, you may want to give special preference to the Children’s Garden, The Chinese Garden and the Jungle Garden. Bring a book that you read to your child often and matches a garden theme. Then, as you visit, you can look in the book and try to find examples of some of the plants. Kids can imagine dinosaurs or other characters as they amble along.

  2. Count Your Steps: It is very easy to trek over 2 miles in a leisurely walk around one garden. This is a great way to help kids get generate healthy habits. I recommend using the Chinese Garden for this. You can walk around a stunning lake, look at Koi fish and other wildlife. The architecture there transports you into another world. It is so rich and vibrant, no one will realize they have walked 2 miles! There is also a Chinese food place there to grab a bite. It’s convenient and has outside seating.

  3. Portrait Extravaganza: The collection of portraits in the museum is mesmerizing. There are so many to see, it probably can’t be done in one or even two days. The collection has several portraits of older kids, so that makes it more relevant and easy to start a discussion with your own kids about what they see in the painting.

  4. Find a Hobby: One of the best things a parent can do for kids is to help them find a hobby; something they can do throughout their schooling years. This teaches coping strategies and skills that so many of us lack. The Japanese Garden has the most extensive Bonsai display around. These are world class examples of how beautiful they are and how it is possible to make a 50 foot Oak tree grow into a 1 foot miniature.

    The Rose Garden, when in bloom, is a great way to introduce kids to the art of rose care and development. There must be 100 different rose varieties there.

    The Rose Garden Tea room offers an experience in high tea. Older kids can see how food can be taken to an art form in detail and presentation. Finger sandwiches and small baked sweets are things kids can learn to make at home.

  5. Geocaches: If you geocache as a family, there may be one or two that are hidden around with the permission of the owners. That can add to your days of fun too.

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