One morning, a class of 3 year olds read A Box Can Be Many Things by Dana Meachen Rau with their teacher. Afterwards, the teacher asked the children, if they had a box what would they do with it? One child said it could be a bed and another suggested that it could be a car. The following day, the teachers presented the children with a selection of boxes, asked the children to choose one and then make it something. Additional construction items were available for these creations including a variety of art materials and fasteners. Some children chose to do the activity more than once.
One boy selected a small box. He placed his beloved unicorn inside and called it a “Home.” On another day, he made a Porsche. A girl announced that she would make a castle using a cylinder box. Later, she wanted to make something else and began a “Christmas box” which evolved into a box to store her toys at home. Another boy also decided to make a house.
A third boy made a car while fourth boy first filled his chosen box with small cars and used it to carry things. He then decided to make a car and placed some people inside it. Finally, he observed a friend who was making a house and decided to make one, too.
A girl put some tissue paper in a wide flat box. She then carefully placed her baby doll inside, and covered the doll with a blanket. The new portable crib accompanied her throughout the morning as she moved around the classroom. Later, she observed a friend making a vehicle and set about making a truck. Another girl made a home for a giraffe that she created out of paper.
A fifth boy wanted to make a car and decided as he began its construction that it would be a police car. He added red and blue lights. Another boy also made a police car after examining the boxes’ markings. The interest in cars continued with another boy who decided to make a particular race car after looking at pictures of race cars in the book Cars by Anne Rockwell. His friend also made a race car after looking at the same book and he added numbers to his vehicle.
Throughout this activity, each child made his or her own decision about what they wished to create or how they wanted use their selected box. Some worked independently and others partnered with teachers. This activity provided the opportunity for the children to use their imaginations, figure out how to make an idea come to life, refine their fine motor skills, focus their attention, and to create a thing of which they were proud. The children clearly demonstrated their understanding that a box can be many things!