The other day, instead of tossing out a box that held our classroom paper towels, I placed it on the carpet right before class. When the children came into the classroom, despite all of the opportunities and activities that surrounded them in our beautiful room, they zeroed in on that box and incorporated into their play most of the afternoon.
Children learn so much through out-of-the-box thinking. Simple items like this box encourage children to engage in the process of trial and error. As they test and explore, they become totally engaged in the activity. It is in this process that they learn the most. As they explore, they find their creativity because they have to use their imaginations to guide them. They begin to understand how things work. The box became a peek-a-boo present, a car, and a table. The children discovered the box will collapse if they put items on the flaps, so they had to turn it over to make a table. They figured that out on their own. The important thing is that THEY discovered it. When we are curious and interested, we learn the most. It doesn’t matter how old we are, and when children are in control of their play, the possibilities are endless!