Child’s Play

Competition Details

Big Box Project

by Dave Franchino
Co-authors: David Franchino, Daniel Lee, Nick Reback, Jesse Darley, Stephanie Galligan

We are inspired by the familiar image of children setting aside a toy but playing with the cardboard box it came in. This common vision highlights the creative capacity and appetite of children, but ironically underscores the staggering amount of cardboard and plastic discarded by consumers. Our goal is to create an intensely non-prescriptive plaything that puts recycled materials to a new use.

Our concept employs a fleet of mobile “toy making centers”. Highly visual and interactive, these are centers where children bring scrap cardboard and plastic bottles. The centers teach about recycling technologies and reward the children for environmental stewardship, in real-time, converting trash into our non-prescriptive toy.

These mobile centers cut cardboard into modular panel shapes and plastic bottles are ground up and molded into clips. The clips join the panels in ways limited only by a child’s imagination.

This concept inherently crosses a broad range of ages. At ages 4-5 where reach/grasp/manipulate fine motor skills are developing, a child may gather only enough cardboard and plastic for a few panels and clips – and can build simple shapes. Through the pre-teens and beyond, children can explore increasingly elaborate shapes, objects and structures to accommodate an emerging and sophisticated sense of abstract design and play. Because the resulting toy is created from non-precious materials, the children are motivated to explore creatively by cutting, modifying, drawing and decorating.

Our plaything is inspired by, but evolves beyond the appeal of the cardboard box. It allows for an incredible range of non-prescriptive play and learning from role play and fantasy to design, construction and artistic expression. It educates and rewards children, showing the power and potential of reducing, reusing and recycling.