Creating Play Boxes for Children

Play Boxes contain collections of small, familiar, inexpensive items that are organized around a play theme and are presented in an appealing way.  They are ideal for rainy days, sick days, play dates, when a child needs a break from screens or when “bored” and looking for something fun to do. They make great gifts too!

Here’s how to create Play Boxes for your child:

1. Find a sturdy cardboard box or a plastic bin.

2. Choose a theme and put a label on the box (including both a simple word and a picture of the theme). Decorate the box yourself or with your child, if you like.

3. Collect items for your box at home or purchase supplies at drug stores, hardware stores, stationery stores, arts and crafts stores, and/or grocery stores.

4. Put items in small containers, sandwich bags, or build dividers with pieces of cardboard to make appropriate compartments in the box. Young children often like to organize play items by returning everything to its place.

TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) developed Play Boxes and has ideas for 14 different box themes such as: cooking, nature, vehicles and first aid. Ideas: Play Boxes

Playing with the everyday items in these boxes encourages children to ask questions, investigate, problem solve, and act out familiar scenes. Creative play develops valuable skills including creativity, communication, collaboration, and early academic skills. Children are natural “scientists,” exploring and learning about their world while involved in activities sometimes misunderstood as “just play.”

Play Boxes are a great way to support children’s creative play by providing easily available, engaging activities and materials!

For other ideas about children and play: TRUCE website


(Adapted from TRUCE Play Boxes article)