the official Chase Street Elementary School Library blog
Antoinette Portis’s Not a Box is one of the very first books I bought for my niece, Lilly, when she was just a toddler:
If you don’t know Not a Box, you should! This Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Book (2007) is a perfect read-aloud about the power (and fun!) of using your imagination. In the book, a creative little bunny turns a boring cardboard box into amazing things–a robot, a hot air balloon, a pirate boat, a rocket ship! I think kids of all ages can relate to this kind of play, and I think a lot of us adults might benefit from remembering it, too. 🙂
I’ve never used Not a Box with classes during poetry month before, but it’s such a simply inspiring little story that this year I knew I had to try it out.
With my littlest Tree Frogs this week, we’ve been reading the book together, then brainstorming our own ideas about what a box could become. For most of these classes, I did the poetry writing behind the scenes while they were working on pictures of their ideas.
Here are a few of their pictures! (Click to view larger.)
And here are the fun crowd-sourced “Not a Box” poems written from the kids’ words and images (click to view larger):
I also used Not a Box with my 3rd grade classes last week, but I knew my 3rd grade kids needed a more challenging prompt–and I also knew that a LOT of my 3rd grade kids are ravenous readers and some of my most frequent library customers.
So, after reading the book, we talked about how a lot of us might be just like the bunny is with his box–full of creativity and amazing ideas.
But, just like the other character who keeps asking “Why are you playing with that box?”, some people start forgetting that imaginative spark when they get older.
Sometimes, I told them, older kids and grown-ups even forget why it’s so important to stretch your imagination by reading–and they might even ask you, “Why are you sitting around with that book?”
So, following a similar format as PreK and kindergarten, our 3rd graders shared ideas for a “Not a Book” poem highlighting the thrilling settings, characters, and events of some of their favorite reads (click to view larger):
Both of these poetry activities were a ton of fun, and I think they show the versatility of a fabulous picture book like Not a Box, which really is a perfect read-aloud for ALL ages. (Make sure you also check out the sequel – Not a Stick!)