I was running out of options that evening. Avie was out of town for a few days, and Sufiana, who’s very attached to Avie, was getting cranky and clingy by the moment. Balls, wind chime, stories, paintbrush+paint) songs – none of those things that she’s fond of – was catching her attention for more than a few seconds. She was tired and so was I.
And then, suddenly, I see a ray of hope in my mind’s eye!
I grabbed an empty carton (cardboard box), poked couple of holes and strung a rope. Lined the inside of the box with a soft towel and made Sufiana sit in it. With a song on my lips (and bated breath), I started pulling the carton around the living room. She was, at first, shocked with apprehension. Then, a subtle smile on her face appears as she relaxed herself in the confines of the box. Pari and I exchanged a look of ‘sigh+fingers crossed’. I went twice around the living room and then stopped to check if she was actually comfortable. Comfortable? She was loving it. She wouldn’t want me to stop for a second.
I wouldn’t want to either. It was not just her who was having fun. I was enjoying myself thoroughly, too. Pari and I were taking turns with this ‘carton train game’. Pari, who was busy doing her own thing before this game started, jumped right into the scene. A fake train + a live doll was too irresistible a play for a nine year old to be doing something else. The whole atmosphere transformed. We were reenergized.
Cardboard boxes (big and small) – I’ve loved playing with them as a child. From doll houses to caves to buildings, towers, forts, trains and cars – the cartons were a great tool for imaginative play. Give some cardboard boxes to a child and you can be sure he/she will be engrossed for a good deal of time. Pari loved to play with small cardboard boxes. She would first paint on them and then construct a tower, a city etc.
Here are some examples from around the world – of how cardboard boxes can be a rich source of free play.
- A preschool teacher replaces toys with cardboard boxes and finds that kids don’t really care about the toys. They had a whale of a time playing, learning, negotiating.
- Cardboard boxes are so much fun, my friend Laura Grace Weldon (of Free Range Learning) hosts BYOB (Bring Your Own Box) parties.
- The beauty of small world play that can be created in cardboard boxes is beyond words. Ana of The Imagination Tree shows how.
- Throw a cardboard box challenge party – for kids or grown-ups. Rachelle at Tinker Lab did, and look at these amazing creations that the children came up with.
Come to think of it – of all things, cardboard boxes can genuinely contribute to world peace and environment. 1. By spreading happiness (of free play) among children (happy child = happy family = happy community). 2. One cardboard box will lead to at least 5 less plastic toys, which means a better/safer environment.
So, if you want to volunteer for a good cause, start saving some cardboard boxes right-away. Seriously.
I need help sustaining this blog…
Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.
I spend hours writing an article – and often write and rewrite many times before it rings true to me and sounds worthy of your time to read.
The most important thing for me is to keep this blogging endeavour authentic and true to my values. This blog has been my sacred space to express, share, feel empowered and contribute. Hence, I do not like to support businesses that don’t align with my values. So far, I’ve rarely taken sponsorship from brands and companies. I haven’t placed any ads on my blog, though there have been multiple offers.
Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
Yet, there’s a cost to running this blog. The basic cost of keeping the domain alive, and hosting all this content on. I spend roughly INR 10,000 (USD 173) just to keep this blog up and running. So, I need to cover this cost. Plus, it’d be nice to bring in some income for our family of four. And, this is where I request your support.
If you find my articles and stories useful or inspiring at some level, please help me sustain. Starting from 1 dollar or 100 rupees to whatever you can, do consider donating for the content I share; for my intention and the time and effort I put. Your support will go a long way in keeping this blog (of 8+ years) sparkling with stories for many more years to come. Thank you, dear ones. I’ll value what you’ll gift with love and kindness. :-)
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