Think inside the box

So here’s a new one. Everyone’s telling you to ‘think outside the box’. So much so that the saying has become a bit cliched. So today we’re going to get your kids to think inside the box.

Now what is a box exactly? It’s just a space, an open space shaped with panels that can be used for virtually any purpose. And that’s the key to this kids invention idea. The idea is to get kids to invent new and original ways to make use of a box. It’s simple and easy, and simplicity is always a good thing.

So start off by holding up a cardboard box, and asking the kids what this can be used for. They’ll generally give you conventional answers (to store books, to move houses, etc).

Now ask them to think of news ways to use a box. Tell them that you want to hear unconventional and new ways to use a box. Make sure that they know that no-one will criticize their answers. People are free to laugh at the answers, but no-one is allowed to say anything bad about them. In this you are providing the kids with the confidence to be wacky, and to use their minds in original ways.

If you get really unusual answers, please post them as comments below. I’d love to read them.

The purpose of this exercise is actually to get the kids to think laterally. To see how something that is normally used or done in one way has the potential to be used in a different way. This is a critical skill to develop in kids, especially since this is the skill most lost when they get older and stuck in traditional modes of thought.

Someone suggested to me that this exercise can almost be used as a warm-up to other exercises on a regular basis. Start the kids’ day with an exercise like this, and use a different object every time. Soon they will be thinking of original uses of everyday things, which will reinforce their skills at lateral thinking.

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