The Wonder of a Box

A friend of mine just replaced her dishwasher and refrigerator, but the educator in me was way more excited about the boxes that the appliances came in. Especially with the open-ended days of summer ahead of us. The boxes hold all the potential in the world to take kids on limitless adventures.

One of my favorite activities for boxes came from a youtube video called Caine’s Arcade. It’s the true story of Caine, a little boy who turned the boxes from his dad’s auto parts store into games for people to play, and the inspired adult who wanted to celebrate Caine’s creativity. My co-teacher and I loved the idea so much that we took some time after standardized testing to let our students explore their creativity and do some open-ended problem solving to create a 3rd and 4th grade cardboard arcade. Some of those students are now in high school and recall that as a favorite memory of their time in my class. I’ve posted the lesson plans for the arcade as a freebie for the month of June.

What else could students do with a box? Here is a very incomplete list. Add to it in the comments with your favorite creative uses for a box:

  • Build an arcade game
  • Make a time machine
  • Make a reading nook
  • Life-size gingerbread house
  • Build a car
  • Fly it like a plane
  • Play astronaut and spaceship
  • Slide on it down a hill
  • Use it for painting a masterpiece
  • Build an ark for stuffed animals
  • Build a castle
  • Turn it into a mini man-cave
  • Set up business as a food-truck
  • Make it into an igloo
  • Make a Halloween costume
  • Build a robot

Managing Water Bottles

My favorite hack this year was, by far, for water bottle storage. I’ve spent so much time telling my students to put water bottles away when they were supposed to be paying attention, watching spills ruin papers and send me back to the copier for replacements, and listening to the popping of lids as they open and shut. All the shuffling of the water bottles made me crazy and I was ready to outlaw them all together. However, hydrated students are healthy and ready to learn, so when I saw this idea, I had to try it. It was the BEST!

All you need is an over the door shoe bag. Mine holds 24 bottles. In my room kids come in each morning, fill their bottles, close the lid tightly, and find a spot for it on the door. Students are allowed to get up and get a drink from their water bottle during transitions and independent work time without asking permission as long as they don’t disrupt others. They are not allowed to get up for a drink while I am in the middle of a lesson. Kids can refill their water bottles at lunch if needed, and they take them home at the end of each day. It has save tons of time formerly wasted at the water fountain!


Wisdom begins in wonder.