Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Toss Those Containers

Hi! It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended use. One of the things I save and reuse often are food containers. Don't toss those boxes; use them in the classroom. Here are some things we've done with food boxes and containers.

We like to cook and play grocery store. Those food boxes add to our play. In fact, I like to use them instead of play food. Sometimes I buy smaller versions so I can use the boxes. 

We have used the containers in our blocks center. These containers add some additional elements to our constructions. I put these containers out and told kids they could use them if they wanted as they built. They had a great time exploring. (See more about this activity on my blog.)

We've made musical instruments from containers. Put gravel or rice in small containers to make shakers. Use larger containers as drums. Instruments can store inside these larger containers, too. (Read about our small shakers and larger shakers.)

Containers have even helped us paint. We put paper inside an oatmeal container (or similar container). Drop in paint-covered marbles or balls, put on the lid, and roll it around. (This post has more information about that activity.)

We've also used containers for these activities—
  • A feel box or guessing game - slide a large sock over an oatmeal container and place items inside
  • Puzzles - cut fronts from cereal boxes and cut the fronts into pieces
  • Books - cut labels from containers and boxes - place in a small photo album; or mount the labels on poster board and bind together with yarn or binder rings
Rescue those containers from the trash can (or don't toss them in the first place!). How have you used food containers and boxes with kids?

My name is Scott, though most call me Mr. Scott. I love teaching preschoolers and kindergartners. I have been working with kids for over 25 years. I've been a teacher, preschool center director, volunteer, curriculum writer and editor, and workshop and conference leader. I blog at Brick by Brick.


  1. Scott, so enjoyed your post! We are very like minded ~ There are several of your suggestions in my brain development activity packets so parents can easily and enexpensively provide learning at home even during busy everyday life!

    All of this is SO MUCH better for optimal develpment than using screens and electronic gadgets isn't it?

    Thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

  2. I put some out for box construction one day, with masking tape, but the children had other ideas. We had been reading a story about a robot, and they started walking around the room wearing the boxes on their arms and legs! Brilliant! It turned into a movement activity, where we all talked in robot voices and moved jerkily- then stopped when the music stopped- Robot Freeze!

  3. You are a master of repurposing, Scott! My kids always loved using food containers to play grocery store, too. Great idea to buy smaller sizes sometimes. I pinned your post to my Kids' Recycle Crafts Pinterest Board at

  4. This is really a very interesting post. Your idea of repurposing things is just incredible. Indeed, kids will have a fun time with these materials which will also help them develop their creative thinking. I do hope that readers will learn from this and be inspired to do the same. In such way, our waste materials will greatly be reduced. Thank you for sharing.


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