A Parent’s Ode to the Cardboard Box

cardboard box creativity Des Moines Mom
© photo by mariasymchychphotos for Canva

Imagine your family has been forced indoors (think snow day or hot summer day). Your child walks up to you while you’re focused on an important task. They exclaim, “I’m bored!” with a backdrop of toys, unplayed with, piling up in the living room.

You raise your eyebrow and before you can say anything, the doorbell rings. On the steps, you find a giant box. Perhaps it’s your Amazon “delivery day” and the box is filled with half items you need, half items you forgot you ordered. You unpack it and leave the box on the floor to worry about later.

Cardboard Magic

This is where the magic starts. That box saves the day.

Your children pounce inside it, “WHOA, this box is so big!”

Next thing you know, imagination has sparked and you’re free to get back at your task.

To you, it’s a large box. You’ve spent hundreds on the latest toys for a magical holiday or birthday, only to see the greatest joy come from this box.

That’s because it’s not just a box. It’s everything.

It’s a spaceship soaring through galaxies.

A castle guarding precious treasure and fighting off dragons.

A doctor’s office, a car repair shop, a beauty salon, a cave of solitude.

There are no labels of  “girl” box or “boy” box. The box is for everyone. It is adaptable. It can be red, blue, black, white, brown, yellow, pink, orange, green, purple, cerulean, mauve… every color on earth. Color it, then hack it into pieces the next moment with little remorse.

A few cuts here and crayons there and suddenly it’s a house. Now it has a door! And a roof! No need for batteries or flashing lights. This toy lasts forever and takes the shape of anything. Thus, my ode to the cardboard box. Or a blanket over a chair to make a fort. Or a piece of paper that turns into a swan.

// RELATED CONTENT: Genius Indoor Activities //

The latest toy trends are captivating. Subconsciously, maybe we are trying to keep up too. But a cardboard box almost does more than any toy. It’s a blank canvas that unleashes the imagination of a child. It’s cheap, and likely free to you. A cardboard box is accessible to almost anyone. Folding and unfolding, climbing in and out, coloring – a box can stretch a child’s fine and gross motor skills and even encourage social interaction.

The best thing? As quickly as it comes, it disappears into the recycling bin. You may have a twinge of guilt for tossing your castle. But, in a week or so that doorbell might ring again and you may find a new castle at the doorstep ready for fresh adventures.

Do your kids love playing with a cardboard box? 


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