Let's play with a cardboard box
What you need
Cardboard boxes, scissors, sticky tape, coloured crayons or washable felt tip pens
Where to find it
Supermarkets, DIY stores, local shops; ask for used cardboard boxes for free
Up to 12 months
Put the box within kicking distance from your baby, and show them the noise they can make by kicking it.
Make an opening in the box, and show your baby how to drop unbreakable household objects or toys through it. Choose soft and hard items: the different noises they make as they land inside the box adds to the fun, as does finding them again. Put the items just out of reach to encourage the baby to stretch, and when they are mobile, put these around the room so the baby can crawl, wriggle or walk to collect them.
12 months to 2 years
Make a small slit in one side of the box. Encourage your child to find specific themed objects (pegs of different colours, bricks of different sizes, types of spoon, etc.) to post into the box.
Draw and colour a lorry onto the box, showing your child how to hold the felt tip pen or crayon so they can join in. Encourage pushing, pulling, parking and loading games, and taking favourite toys for a ride.
Cutting some slits for eyes and a mouth, and decorating with crayons, will turn the box into a robot, dragon, monster. Children naturally act out the character they have created. Older children can be encouraged to create their own activity.
Children can push each other around in a box turned into a vehicle of their choice.
Use box sections to make and decorate lily pads, so your child can jump from pad to pad.
And as they grow older...
Children become even more creative, and can use a cardboard box to make favourite characters and act
out stories from films, books or TV programmes.
Make your own 'instruments', play some music, and dance and sing along!
You can fold 3-4 socks into a ball for rolling, throwing or kicking games