Comment s’amuser avec a cardboard box

Les vacances de printemps have arrived in France, hot on the heels of the two week ‘skiing holiday’ in February (in lieu of the British half term) and the long Easter weekend. All the usual toys and schemes having been either thoroughly exhausted, lost or broken I found it necessary, some weeks ago, to resort in my desperation to improvisation. An impulse purchase of questionable success has been my salvation. The item itself is of little consequence. As with most soulless and mass-produced toys, it is what’s on the outside that counts where toddlers are concerned…

I, therefore, put to you the following question: have you ever wondered how to have fun with a cardboard box? If you have, but are at a loss as to how to proceed, please consider this short, and fool-proof, guide for your instruction and entertainment:

Items needed:

  • One small child (or more if you are feeling particularly ambitious). Either one currently controlling your household affairs (having taken possession, at the moment of your introduction, of your life and sanity), or one borrowed for the occasion. I believe that loaned children are prone to fewer software bugs and often come with a healthy user manual (which is rarely, if ever, provided with the non-returnables). In any case, they can always be sent back to the manufacturer if they malfunction or become suddenly infected with a system-failing and melt-down-inducing virus. (If no willing child can be found a like-minded or supportive friend would make a suitable substitute.);
  • One large, empty box. Mine is big enough for me to sit in with my Chou and close, when it is turned vertically on its side (house-side up). I am 5 ft tall. Remember, when purchasing your box, to order a toy corresponding in size to the desired box dimensions. Do not spend time agonising over the jouet in question. It will be ignored almost immediately and left to fester in a corner (the one included with our box is currently residing in the woodshed).


Other brands of box are available.

How to have fun:

  1. Transform the box into a car or a boat (using as much or as little embellishment as you both deem necessary);
  2. Hop inside with crayons and felt tips  and use as a canvas – I often use this as an occasion to practise my writing and cat-drawing skills;
  3. Play cache-cache, where the hiding place is exclusively (yet always very surprisingly) the box;
  4. Accidentally lose child/kind adult friend over and over again and search the adjoining rooms, only to discover that they never left the box. I find that humming loudly to oneself drowns out any giggling noises;
  5. Turn the box into a cozy armchair (car-side up), and squash in together for reading fun in front of the fire. This is so relaxing that even I, a confirmed insomniac, start to feel pleasantly drowsy in this attitude;
  6. Re-enact ‘The Three Little Pigs’, taking turns over and over again to be the pig, hiding in his house, and the wolf, rat-a-tat-tatting at the door. If played in the proper spirit this can be hilarious, provided that you understand that the first and second little pigs went ‘home to Mama’ after their houses were blown in. On no account whatsoever did they get eaten;
  7. Turn the box into a prison (house-side up). I am not such a fan of this personally as I am invariably the captive and it reminds me of misspent lunch breaks at school when we, the unstreetwise, competed to determine who could stay inside their cramped gym locker for the longest amount of time. The girl who eventually won the title did so by ‘cheating’ – she inadvertently got locked inside and the janitor had to be called…
  8. Continue this theme by luring your companion into the box and then sitting on their lap, closing the ‘doors’ and refusing to get off. Find out how many friends can fit in with you; so far we have managed four: myself, my Chou, Rory Lila (A tiger hand puppet, so called because he rooooaarrrrrrs) and Lila Lila (a scruffy black cat, imaginatively named so as to be easily distinguishable from our pet cat, Lila);
  9. When the box has become too raggedy to play with inside take it outdoors (or use a dedicated outside box) to create your own wormery – hours of fun can be had digging up the garden on the hunt for wiggly worms to add to the box’s growing collection. Placing the box far away from the digging site and transporting your unearthed prizes by means of an enormous snow shovel only adds to the enjoyment;
  10. Sadly the box cannot last indefinitely, if it is to be thoroughly enjoyed. When it can no longer serve as a receptacle rip sections off and create templates and stencils for craft projects (not before a great deal of masking tape has been used in patching up the sides when necessary, as well as occasionally when unnecessary). The remains can eventually be spread over patches of weeds in the garden, in the vain hope of killing them off without strenuous digging on your part. This is unlikely to work (it hasn’t for me so far), but it is still worth a shot, probably.
Clearly a car.


Mots du jour:

Comment s’amuser avec… How to have fun with…Les vacances de printemps – The Spring holiday jouet – toy cache-cache – hide and seek

19 thoughts on “Comment s’amuser avec a cardboard box

  1. But the first two little pigs don’t get eaten… not in the version I know anyway. They run to the next pig’s house then at the end all of them are in the brick house that can’t be blown down.

    My little brother used to use cardboard boxes from food to make “robots”. Always violently names, weaponised robots – he was obsessed with Robot Wars.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The version I have is the Ldaybird ‘Well Loved Tales’ from the late 80s or early 90s. The series in general is pretty beastly…chicken licken and the gingerbread man also get eaten. I prefer your version!
      My brother also adored Robot Wars!


      1. Interesting. I thought we had the Ladybird version as well, but maybe not.
        I have to confess I don’t remember the ending of The Gingerbread Man. I have a feeling he gets eaten by a fox… or was that the runaway pancake?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Perhaps they changed the ending over time to be more child friendly. Yes he gets eaten by a fox, whilst narrating…”now I am quarter gone, now I am half gone, now I am three quarters gone” “then he said nothing at all”.


  2. That is so cute and so funny! And that car is definitely a red Lamborghini. I’ve never heard of a wormery – I’ll have to try it out the next time I borrow a chou. I well remember Christmases overflowing with gifts, and the box the star attraction. This was so well done – I think you should submit this to a parenting magazine – every parent could relate.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved this! I am very family with number 4. When my pumpkin was a babe she would hide in the washing basket with a blanket on her head and her toes sticking out. Of course she was ‘invisible’. Oh how I miss the toddler days already! (Not all of them obviously since they nearly turned me into a basket case at times 😁)

    Liked by 3 people

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