Big Box Play sent us their castle set in exchange for a review.
Do you ever wish that you could spend thirty minutes doing a great activity with your kids, then get back to your own work, and they’d still be engaged?
Wouldn’t it be great to find a project that’s big enough to take your children’s attention for several hours? Maybe a couple of days? STEM projects are usually winners in the interest department, but it’s frustrating that we parents usually end up being the ones actually doing the project after the kids wander off.
The Big Box Play set instantly grabbed our attention. When my six-year-old saw a picture of the project she knew we wanted to try it. When the box arrived all my children from age 4 to age 11 were excited to get started building.
Encourages critical thinking
I put my 11-year-old in charge and hung back to see what would happen. The first thing that they noticed was that there were no directions. It took several minutes for my crew of builders to figure out how the pieces went together, but once they did, I could see that they took a lot of pride in actually understanding how the pieces go together.
Easy to build
The screw system on The Big Box Play set is genius. It’s big enough for little hands to grab and manipulate and forgiving of user error in angling the screws in. I was shocked to see my four-year-old easily assembling her corners. She was delighted, and really engaged with the building process for long periods of time.
The castle as a whole was incredibly consistent in design. The result was that my kids were able to be 100% successful in building a product they loved, even though their construction techniques are a bit inconsistent.
Does require a big person
My older children were able to handle moving the boxes into position, but my four and six year-olds, who are both fairly tall, were not. I would recommend that an adult plans to help with the initial construction if your kids are less than eight years old.
While the main pieces do need an adult to help hold them in place, the set comes with interchangeable walls with various designs and even markerboard walls. These pieces can be swapped out by the children. Again, my preschooler was enamored with changing around the walls independently.
They decided to build their castle in a different pattern than the one shown on the web-site pictures. And, because of the screw system, we may change it again for another day. I love that my children were able to take so much ownership of the design itself.
This is not to mention the options for pretend play, decoration, and sensory breaks.
After about an hour of work, my crew was happy with their results and ready to go back to playing with their pets. But the next day, finishing the castle was their top priority. Having something healthy that engages them over a couple of days is definite win.
Four active kids can cause some. I was pleasantly surprised at how the cardboard has held up to their use. It was stepped on several times during construction, but wasn’t damaged, and they’ve been able to crawl through repeatedly without any wear showing.
However, because this is cardboard, it will eventually be able to composted. Only the plastic screw pieces will be left over. Only a gallon (2L) of waste for a toy of this scale is excellent. I will be saving these screws to use in future projects. They would be great in a sensory bin, or could be used to build with scavenged boxes.
Fitting into small spaces
Part of the charm of the Big Box Play Castle is that the children can get inside and hang out together. It’s still standing in the corner of our play room, and I expect it to stay there for a long time. If your space is more limited you could consider giving each child just one tower to keep in their own bedroom as a hide out or reading nook. Reassemble the whole castle on special occasions.
Or, take the castle down, and store flat until a rainy day and have the fun all over again. This set is durable enough to handle being made multiple times. I think we may use this option for ours—once we get tired of it, which won’t be for a while.
Using in a school setting
This would be a great set to use in a preschool since the cardboard is new and you don’t have to worry about what residue the children my be touching. I would use it with ages 2-8. For younger children, assemble the main structure ahead of time, and leave the extra walls and screws for them to use at their own discretion. The screws are a safe option: too big to swallow and not at all sharp.
(I love these screws!)
The finished Big Box Play Castle would make an inviting reading nook, or a safe haven for sensory breaks , or a great setting for collaborative play.
If you are looking to invest in a STEM play option that allows you to connect with your kids, but will maintain their attention for the hours and days after you help them build it, the Big Box Play System may be just what you’re looking for.
You can check out all their designs at BigBoxPlay.com.