I wrote in June 2023 about Big Boxes and the lessons I continue to learn as a dad. How thrilled I was when a thoughtful Uncle and Aunty gifted my youngest daughters a Makedo Discover Kit at Christmas.

Founded in Australia, Makedo has been around for some time (I really am always learning). Their website explains:

‘Makedo is a simple-to-use, open-ended system of tools for creative cardboard construction. Build imaginative and useful creations from upcycled (repurposed) everyday cardboard. Makedo comes to life in collaborative creative environments such as classrooms, maker spaces, museums and, of course, homes.

Inspired by the creativity and playfulness of his own kids, in 2008, PJ set off on a design adventure. With a background in toy design, PJ was determined to create something that wouldn’t end up in landfill, and that would take children’s imaginations and natural inclination to play to the next level.

Seeing the big fun his own kids would have with a simple cardboard box sparked memories of his own childhood box play, and highlighted the potential and value of this humble, everyday material. The ‘aha’ moment that PJ had been looking for, had arrived.

With a mission to repurpose today, solve tomorrow, Makedo empowers kids to develop the necessary skills; communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and empathy, to navigate and problem-solve their way through our changing world. Today, Makedo is growing a global community of like-minded makers who are working together to improve the future for people and the planet.’

PJ sounds like my kind of guy!

Makedo Discover Kit

Ready to create with their Makedo Discover Kit (in a nutshell: ‘nifty tools for kids for cardboard’), the next step was to source some (preferably free) cardboard. Off to Bunnings we went!

Most of the free boxes in the Bunnings cardboard box receptacle were of the small variety, sadly. After enquiring of the staff (shout out to the helpful staff at Bunnings Kembla Grange!), we commandeered a trolley. Operation big box retrieval commenced.

I’m fully aware it’s against retail rules to tear your kids around big box stores in trolleys, but gee, it’s fun. Besides, the Australian editorial cartoonist Jon Kudelka once said, ‘Rules are stupid.’ Not sure if I entirely agree, but I will say: let’s keep trolleys fun!

Thanks to a tip-off from Bunnings staff member Jenny, the gardening section yielded some solid boxes, but we hit paydirt in the compost bin aisle. A no-longer-being-used tall display box was perfect, and an empty box for a new compost bin that was nowhere to be found ensured operation big box retrieval was a great success.

With a friendly wave to our new friends (thanks again, Bunnings Kembla Grange!), the next challenge was fitting everything inside the Kia Carnival. Life-sized Tetris game completed, the girls and I headed home victorious!

Thanks to the Makedo Discover Kit, our extensive collection of Bunnings cardboard boxes, and, most importantly, their amazing imaginations, my two youngest daughters spent the rest of the day designing and constructing. Employing all their creativity and collaboration, they worked together to build an elaborate combination of rooms, and even a stable (of course), which they and their cousins have since spent countless days playing in.

big boxes

As a dad now for (almost) 16 years, I’m continuously amazed at how much curiosity and creativity my daughters possess. One of our critical roles as dads is to foster and facilitate this curiosity and creativity as much as possible. Build the right environment with the tools and resources your kids need to create and play, and then get out of the way.

John Marsden, the multi-award-winning and bestselling author and alternative school principal, encourages parents to:

Take a few steps back and let your children blunder around and make their mistakes. Be down to earth, literally. Let them play in the rain, get muddy, explore wild places… Let them have their own daydreams, their own games, their own activities. Stop interfering, stop scrutinising. Don’t emphasise material gains. Value the abstract qualities, such as empathy and compassion. Those are more important than getting into medicine at the best university or getting the new Audi.’

Lovework

If you can, continue to encourage and facilitate creative play for your kids. Check out Makedo for some great ideas and inspiration. Next time you visit a retailer with your kids, politely ask if they have any boxes or cardboard available for free. The bigger the boxes, the better!

Do your best to facilitate as much creative play as possible for your kids – you won’t regret it!

Yours for More Big Boxes,
Nathaniel Marsh

PS: Dads4Kids is not sponsored in any way by Makedo or Bunnings. However, we would love to speak with any brands or individuals interested in partnering with Dads4Kids in creative ways.

PPS: We wouldn’t be able to send you this Free Weekly Email Newsletter without the generous support of our amazing donors. If you enjoy receiving weekly inspiration and encouragement from Dads4Kids, please consider supporting Dads4Kids on a monthly basis.

About the Author: Nathaniel Marsh

Operations Manager and Qualified Trainer for Dads4Kids, Nathaniel is passionate to see hearts turn to the Father. As a professional filmmaker, Nat worked in advertising and television for 20 years and has been helping Dads4Kids behind the scenes since 2002. Nat has been married to Jodi since 2004, and they have five daughters.

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