Engaging your students’ imaginations can be important for raising innovative problem solvers. “Not a Box”, a book written by Antoinette Portis, can encourage your readers’ creativity by thinking outside the box. In the story, the bunny is not merely playing with a box. They are playing with a car or a mountain. The box can be whatever students imagine it to be. Here is a list of 22 activities, inspired by this story, to promote imagination in the classroom!
1. The Box House
Welcome to the box house! Your students can create their fantasy home using cardboard boxes and whatever art supplies you have laying around. This activity can work for all grade levels as the houses can have a more complex design for the older kids.
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2. Indoor Maze
Here is a fun and physical cardboard box activity. You can create this indoor maze using boxes, binder clips, and an X-ACTO knife to cut out the entrances. Older kids can help with the building.
Learn More: Hallmark Channel
3. Car Box
Vroom vroom! The first example in the book is the vision that the box is a car. Luckily, this is a fairly easy craft to make. Your students can help paint boxes and cut out cardstock wheels to create their very own cars.
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4. Robot Box
Here’s a futuristic example from the book. Your students can create a robot head using a box and whatever art supplies you have available. You can have a robot role-play session after everyone is finished to add some extra fun.
Learn More: Peninsula Kids
5. Cardboard Space Shuttle
These space shuttles could be a great partner activity with the robot heads above! You can use the link below to learn how to cut up and glue your cardboard together to create this space shuttle. The activity can also prompt a fun lesson on outer space.
Learn More: Mama Smiles
6. Cardboard Fridge
Maybe you won’t be able to store real food in here but a cardboard fridge can be a great addition to imaginative play. You can even use smaller boxes and containers as pretend food.
Learn More: Mama Smiles
7. Cardboard Washer & Dryer
How adorable are these laundry machines? I like to encourage role-play with chores since these are activities that your students will likely have to do in the future. You can put together this set with cardboard boxes, bottle tops, freezer bags, and a few other items.
Learn More: eHow
8. Cardboard TV
Here is another easy-to-make cardboard creation. All you need is cardboard, tape, hot glue, and a marker to make this old-school TV. Your kids can help decorate the TV with their repertoire of creative art skills.
Learn More: Let Grow
9. Tissue Box Guitar
This craft could spark some enthusiasm for music in your class. You only need a tissue box, rubber bands, a pencil, tape, and a paper towel roll to create this guitar. Jamming out might even inspire some students to learn how to play a real instrument.
Learn More: The Friday Zone
10. Imaginative Play
At times, letting your kids decide what they will build for themselves can really kick their imagination into full gear. With the help of large shipping boxes and joiners, they can even design their very own cardboard city!
Learn More: Early Education Central
This activity combines a read-aloud of the book with a kid’s yoga lesson plan. Your students can use the Not a Box story to inspire different body poses that mimic the exciting, imaginary objects in the story. Can they make a car or design a robot?
Learn More: Keller Library
12. Six-Sided Chalkboard
This activity can turn your cardboard box into whatever your kids are able to draw. For example, it can be a storybook or a sign. The possibilities are endless! All you need is a box, chalkboard paint, and chalk to bring this craft to life.
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13. Word Search
Word searches can be a simple, yet effective, activity to get your students to recognize letters and words. This pre-made digital activity includes keywords from the Not A Box story. There is also a printable version available.
Learn More: Reading Is Fundamental
14. Drawing Prompts
This is a classic book activity created by the author, Antoinette Portis, herself. You can choose from a list of prompts/worksheets (besides a box, wearing a box, etc.) for your students to draw from. You might be surprised by your kids’ imaginative capacity.
Learn More: Antoinette Portis
15. Drawings with Cardboard
You can include some cardboard in the mix to add some texture to your students’ art activity. You can tape or glue a rectangular piece of cardboard (the box) to a piece of paper and then allow your students to draw using their imagination.
Learn More: Katie Morris
16. Host or Participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge
What started out as a local cardboard-made arcade, turned into an inspiring activity for kids all around the world. You can host or encourage your students to participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge, where they will innovate and share a unique cardboard creation.
Learn More: Global Cardboard Challenge
17. Philosophical Discussion
Not a Box is an excellent book for prompting some philosophical discussions. In this link, there is a list of questions concerning the main themes of the story; namely imagination, reality & fiction. You might be surprised by some of the philosophical insights your kiddos have.
Learn More: Prindle Institute
18. Cardboard Construction Sensory Bin
You can create many different mini-worlds using just a box and a few additional materials. Sensory play can also be great for sensory-motor development. Here’s a construction-themed bin. You can add some sand, rocks, and trucks, and let your little construction workers get to work.
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19. Autumn Imaginative Sensory Bin
Here’s another sensory bin that uses leaves, pine cones, and some figurines to create an autumn-inspired environment. Adding some animals, wizards, or fairies are great objects to stimulate fantasy and imagination.
Learn More: Pickle Bums
20. Magic Box
Watching and listening to this music video can further help inspire your kids’ imagination for the possibilities of a box. It’s a wonderful song to play in your class before doing another Not a Box activity.
Learn More: Laurie Berkner
21. Read “What To Do With A Box”
If you are looking for an alternative children’s book with a similar theme to Not a Box, you might want to try this one. What To Do With A Box can take you on another adventure with the infinite possibilities of a simple cardboard box.
Learn More: Good Reads
22. School Bus Snack
It’s not a piece of cheese; it’s a school bus! Your students can practice their creativity using objects other than boxes too. Boxes are simple and certainly provide great fun but you can add many more ideas to your activity list when you include other items too.
Learn More: Creative Kid Snacks