10 Easy Ways to Play and Learn with Boxes

10 Easy ways to Play and Learn with Boxes

I’m always looking for ways to get the most out of something (aren’t we all?!), and I remembered that kids love boxes, and we always have some lying around. So, I started saving our boxes and other recyclables so that Sweet Pea and Buddy Boy could do some building with boxes and creating whatever interested them.

I also liked that using boxes of different sizes and durability posed a different challenge than using regular blocks purchased from the store. This was almost a no-prep activity that didn’t require a lot of guidance on my part, which was nice. The directions are really simple for this activity…. ready?


Building with Boxes

  1. Gather boxes and other recyclables that could be used for building.
  2. Build something!
    1. Ideas: towers, bridges, forts, houses, tunnels/mazes… Whatever strikes your fancy! 🙂
  3. Clean up your mess by putting the smaller boxes back in the larger boxes when you’re done, or by breaking down your boxes and recycling them if you’re done using them. Don’t forget to have your little one help you! That’s part of the fun- seeing how you can fit the boxes together so that they take up the least amount of space. 🙂


It turns out that this activity is REALLY hard to get good pictures of, but here are some from the first time they built with boxes and other recyclables (like protein powder containers, puffs containers, etc.). I like to throw in stuff that might not be very useful, like toilet paper rolls because part of learning what works is seeing what doesn’t work well. Sweet Pea ended up putting the toilet paper tubes on the side of the towers as decoration. 🙂


They made a bridge that Lucky tested out.


The tower… as it was falling!


Then, they decided to use some of the cars lying nearby and race them, using one of the longer boxes as a ramp.

How fast will the car go?


Why this is a good activity:

Building with boxes is a great STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activity. STEM is something that’s becoming more common in our schools, especially with the Common Core Standards in the US. Moving large boxes around is a good large/gross motor skills activity for toddlers and preschoolers.

In creating towers, little ones get to experiment with stacking boxes of different sizes to see what works best. They have to use problem solving (what’s a safe way to stack boxes taller than them?) and cooperate with one another. These skills change a little if they’re asked to build a bridge instead or form a wall with the boxes instead of a tower. A lot of spatial skills are involved, as is some crossing the midline. It might not seem like much on the surface, but there’s a lot of learning involved in this relatively simple activity!

Other ideas for using boxes:

  1. Comparing size
  2. Measuring (using a measuring tape, ruler, etc)
  3. Counting
  4. Sorting by size
  5. Lining them up
  6. Making a train
  7. Coloring/drawing (let your little one sit inside and the inside of the box is their canvas)
  8. Races (sit in the box and take turns pushing one another around)
  9. Make ramps for a DIY ball/marble run

 What do your littles use boxes for? Join the discussion over on my Facebook page!

STEM activities for toddlers can be super simple to set up AND clean up, such as building with boxes! Keep your 2-3 year old entertained with open-ended activities using boxes. Great rainy day activity for toddlers and an Earth Day activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Makes for easy clean-up and set-up for busy moms! Find out more at Lessons and Learning for Littles!