Thursday, September 12, 2013

Confessions of a Cereal Box User

The fall semester is back into full swing and I have caught my breath long enough to add a new post to my blog.  I have a list of ideas to tackle this semester and one thing that I love to think about is how to use junk or essentially "trash" in an early childhood classroom.  

So...this post is dedicated to my top 10 ideas for using cereal boxes.  Cereal boxes are easy to acquire.  First off, if you are an early childhood professional cereal makes an easy breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner so the boxes could be accumulating in your own stash of "things to take to my classroom." Second, kids love cereal...parents are usually pretty willing to save boxes for you to use or you may be using cereal in your program for activities and snacks.  If you are sending out requests for boxes be sure to add an end date or a certain number of boxes needed so you don't end up having to rent a storage unit to keep your boxes...don't keep unattended boxes piled to the ceiling in your facility...the fire marshal will not understand the need for 50 empty Froot Loops boxes.  
  • The individual size cereal boxes can be made into a memory match game...I did this for a breakfast unit.  You can find variety packs of 10...the front of the box matches the back of the box...cover the unfinished side of the box, laminate, and match away.

  • I have also created puzzles with full size cereal box fronts.  The kids liked the cereal box puzzles because it was something familiar to them. You could make it more difficult and use a side other than the "front" of the box.  

  • There was a time when I cut the top off of cereal boxes, covered them with contact paper and stored my children's writing/drawing journals in them standing up on the counter or writing table.  It was a great way to keep them together yet easy to flip through to find each child's journal.  You can also add labels to organize the sets by group.  
  • Cereal boxes, of the same size, with top flaps removed can be taped together, covered with contact paper and placed on a shelf to store construction paper by color.  It sure beats purchasing one from an   educational supply company and you have control over the number of paper slots.  
  • Cereal box fronts can be hole punched and hooked together to make environmental print books.  Or you can place the fronts in freezer zipper bags and tape together for students who may like to mouth the book.  
  • Stuff empty cereal boxes with newspaper...securely shut with packing tape and add to a grocery store inspired dramatic play center.
  • Empty cereal boxes of varying sizes can be used a percussion instruments.  This is a great opportunity to hear and classify the different sounds make by different sizes of boxes.  Drum sticks are not necessary but could be cool...use hands, un-sharpened pencils, rhythm sticks, etc. Another instrument idea is to cut a hole on one side of the cereal box and stretch rubber bands around box and hole...instant guitar!
  • Empty cereal boxes can be used for construction play.  They are easily stuffed, reinforced and covered to be used as large blocks in the block area.  A roll of cheap masking tape and a pile of empty boxes is a masterpiece waiting to happen.
  • A cereal box cut in half from top to bottom can be used for many craft projects--marble painting "pan", collage base, spatter paint receptacle, paint palette, the possibilities are endless.Cereal boxes can be used for children to stuff--they can add a certain number of items to boxes that have numerals printed on them.  They can add cut out letters that match letters on the box--during "R" week add R's to the Rice Krispie box.  They can add items that match a particular color indicated on the box.