Children are wonderfully imaginative. If you give them an old box and tell them to pretend it’s a car, they will enjoy hours of fun in their ‘Maserati’. Likewise, you can create an entire practical life area for your homeschool or preschool classroom learning center. All you need is a refrigerator box, available in dumpsters behind appliance stores like Best Buy, Sears, etc.
A refrigerator box is a wonderful thing. It’s green, versatile, sturdy enough for what it’s for and able to be recycled when you’re finished with it. My father once made me an entire play house full of furniture with cardboard boxes. Make a classroom or homeschool play area for your ‘house’ or ‘practical life’ learning center by cutting the refrigerator box along one of the long edges. Open the box so that it encloses a corner of the classroom and rests on its base. You may need to invert the box and fold it inside out, as there will be printing on the outside. Using duct tape, attach the edges of the cardboard to the walls and along the floor in several spots. This is not meant to be a permanent structure; but the tape will prevent the cardboard box wall from collapsing. There is no need for a roof or ceiling. Children understand the concept and will be able to imagine a ceiling.
Cut a window or two in the sides of the box. For a western style house, cut ‘window panes’ from cardboard and draw in curtains. You might also staple scrap pieces of fabric to make curtains. Draw a flower box on the outside. For a door, you can cut a door that opens and closes. I have also cut a doorway and hung a piece of cloth like a curtain.
Along the bottom of the house, to mask the edges, I place green and brown towels or blankets, to look like earth or grass. I set up some artificial trees and flowers to lend versimilitude. Inside the house, I placed a basket of books that pertained to the subject we were studying in class. I also added some comfy throw pillows. This made the play house into a quiet reading library. To make an actual house or practical life area, I put a doll cradle with assorted dolls. I also put a child-sized table and chairs, with play kitchen furniture, play food and dishes, portable kitchen area, etc. See my article ‘Easy DIY Recycled Cardboard Box Play Kitchen Appliances’ if you want to make your own practical life preschool learning center equipment.