Blogger Kaitlin Frick

Think Outside, Inside, and All Around the Box!

This Wednesday (June 19th) is International Box Day, when people all over the world will be celebrating the cardboard box!

Okay, so maybe not. But boxes are truly a fantastic invention. First conceived in 1817, cardboard boxes have been making moving easier for over 200 years. But for librarians, boxes are more than just packaging; they’re an incredibly versatile craft material.

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So if you need some inspiration for celebrating International Box Day at your library this year, look no farther! I’ve compiled some of my favorite programming ideas for a range of ages as well as storytime selections below.

School-age Programming

One of my favorite things to do with a cardboard box is… whatever I can come up with on the spot! I like to play kids an excerpt of Caine’s Arcade and then give them cardboard boxes, tools for cutting and attaching (I have Makedo kits, but scissors and duct tape work too), and occasionally a random assortment of materials from my craft cabinets. Then I just sit back and wait to see what happens.

Another program I enjoy doing with my school-age group is maze creation. Typically, I’ll show them images of hedge mazes to get them interested and spark ideas. I then give them each a flat sheet of cardboard and material to erect walls for their mazes (craft sticks and fast-drying clay work well if you don’t have time for glue to set). I also give them each a marble to roll through the maze, so they can test out how it works. If you want to encourage group work, I love this large-scale cardboard box marble run from The Pinterested Parent or this one from Frugal Fun 4 Boys.

If you want something a little more arts-focused, a diorama-building workshop might be right for you. Set out a variety of books (ideally those that are fairly well-known and popular within your community) to inspire children to create scenes from their favorite stories, or let them tell one of their own invention.

Early Literacy Programming

For early literacy programming, I’m a big fan of this cardboard construction set from Happy Hooligans. It’s a bit time-intensive to create the pieces, especially if you want a decent-sized set, but my preschoolers had a lot of fun drawing on and building with them.

As I was seeking inspiration for this post, I stumbled upon an idea I definitely want to try at my branch: DIY Activity Boards. This video from mamiblock has some really cute ideas to get you started on your next library playdate.

Family Programming

A fun idea for the whole family is a drive-in movie night, where caregivers help their children build a cardboard car they can sit in for the movie. We’ve hosted a daytime movie viewing like this at my branch before, but I think it would be especially fun for an after-hours family program.

Books for a Box-Themed Storytime

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What to Do with a Box by Jane Yolen

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Box by Min Flyte

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

A Box Can Be Many Things by Dana Meachen Rau

Perfect Square by Michael Hall

Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: III. Programming Skills.

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