Fun with Cardboard Boxes - Supporting Your Child's Development

So many everyday items are packaged in cardboard boxes – we just can’t avoid them. The good news is that our little ones can have heaps of fun and get creative with them! Craft activities are great because they allow our children to use their imaginations and make whatever they want. This means that the language we use to talk about that activity will change each time and expose them to lots of new words. Here are some ways you can use language in craft activities with cardboard boxes.


When your child is making something with their box, you can talk about things like:

  • The materials they’re using to make their project (e.g. cardboard, scissors, sticky tape, paper, glitter, pompoms)
  • How they’re making their project (e.g. ripping, pulling, sticking, cutting)
  • The location of items on their project (e.g. inside, outside, next to, through, on top, underneath)
  • Describing their project or how they’re making it (big, blue, carefully, quickly, fantastic, colourful)
  • Concepts of sequence (before, after, first, last)

Following Instructions

Making with cardboard boxes can be a great way to help your child practise following instructions. You can tell your child that their project is a surprise - they’ll need to listen carefully to a set of instructions to find out what they’re making! Instructions can include different words like those mentioned under ‘vocabulary’. Make instructions easier or more difficult by including more information in the instruction.

2 key words: “cut the box”; “stick on the paper

3 key words: “cut a hole in the box”; “tear the right flap off”

4 key words: “stick the pompom on the lid” “make a roof before a window

Social Skills

If you have multiple children or your children have friends over, working on a group project is a great way to practice social skills. You can also help make the project with your child. Helping your child develop their social skills will help them to make friends more easily.

Turn taking - prompt your children to take turns adding bits and pieces to their project. Use gestures, such as pointing, and talk about whose turn it is to encourage turn taking.

Making requests – encourage your child to ask for materials they want (instead of just saying what they want or snatching!). If your child just states what they want, demonstrate how to ask a question (e.g. “you say… can I have my pencil case please?”) and encourage your child to repeat the question. This is also a great way to practise using manners.

Negotiation skills – if siblings are working together, help them problem solve disagreements. Encourage them to compromise and think of solutions that will please both parties (e.g. one child goes first and next time the other child goes first; both children get half of a material each).

It’s important for children to have good social skills, such as turn taking and making requests, as this behavior is liked by others and can help your child to make friends with their peers.

Making a project with cardboard boxes laying around the house is a great way for children to use their imagination and expand their language skills! Getting creative in a task like this can help children learn new words, practise following instructions and learn to communicate effectively with others. Have a go at making a cardboard box project with your child and try out some of these tips.

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