It’s such an easy trick, and it doesn’t cost you anything. You’ve probably long tried it already. I mean, it happens without your doing; you unpack a present or a big kitchen appliance, and kiddo is already snatching up the packaging material, doing his own thing. No need to buy expensive cardboard playhouses if you can make them yourself for free! Also, if you have to move, make the best of all the stress by securing some big boxes for your toddler (and, if you have, for your cat!). The joy will be unimaginable (our kitten Frankie loved boxes and crinkly paper). (The clean-up of shredded paper will be unimaginable, too…)
- The Bubble Wrap Race Track
The first sensory play Lyons Cub engaged in besides sand and water was probably bubble wrap. While his little fingers weren’t strong enough yet, he and hadn’t perfected the pincher grip yet to burst the bubbles with his hands, he loved running over bubble wrap and stomping on it with his feet. It took a while, but he also learned to jump up and down to pop the bubbles. Careful, because your tot might slip and fall at the end of the race track. My son skidded quite a bit and sat on his bum. I should have thought about fixating the bubble wrap to the ground with tape. My only worry was that the neighbors might think someone fired a shot when he popped a bubble really loud 😉
Here’s Lyons Cub shortly before his second birthday, stomping happily on bubble wrap that was left over from a Christmas present package:
2. The Cardboard Castle
Ever got a big box from Amazon and didn’t feel like flattening it immediately to throw it into the recycling bin? No worries, your tot will be happy to build a cardboard fort. Just get a cutter and make a door and some windows, and voilà! the castle is ready and your kiddo’s friends can be invited over as guests. Put some blankets and pillows inside to make it more comfy, and maybe add a snack and a water bottle. Ready for glamping!!! The best boxes are those that housed fridges, couches, or something huge like that. For added fun, you can cut a slot in it as mailbox, so the kids can push envelopes through (just save up some advertising letters and brochures). If your kids can paint their house or scribble on it, their new home will be quite a looker.
3. Cardboard Trains & Planes
Lyons Cub has always loved pretend play. Even as a baby, he would crawl into a box and wanted to be sent to Grandma, who lives in Europe. So once he had gotten comfy in his box, I had to pull it through the house, rattle it, and pretend he’s on a train or plane, visiting his relatives. If you’re very crafty, you can add wings or decorate your box. We just used plain boxes; my son didn’t care about the looks, he just wanted the movement and sounds. The boxes were also perfect for playing peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek.
4. Clothes Made of Foam Mesh Sleeves
Caps, crowns, stockings, socks, and gloves of foam mesh sleeves are fun, although they slip off easily. Your little one can dress himself and mommy! And in the end, he can tear everything apart (and learn how to recycle by putting the waste in the correct recycling bin). This way, you’ve had fun AND used a teachable moment!
The only packing material I don’t like my son to play with is Styrofoam, because those little white balls are hard to catch and attach to everything, I mean everything. I just hate to clean that up…