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When I heard Inside Out was available for purchase November 3rd, we drove to Walmart to buy it, and you should too because it’s an amazing movie for children and adults alike!
I first heard about the film Inside Out while listening to the NPR interview with Phyllis Smith (she played the character “Phyllis” in the hit TV show The Office of which I am a fan). I am also a fan of the very talented and funny Amy Poehler who plays the voice of the character “Joy” in Inside Out. After I hearing so much positive media coverage of the film (see below for ‘References and Further Reading’), I thought this is a film that I have to see.
Margo and I were in for such a treat when we sat down to watch this movie; Inside Out is entertaining for children and intellectually stimulating for adults too! I do not want to give away any plot details but it vividly illustrates the emotions a child experiences as they mature. As a parent, there were many points in the film that I connected with and found poignant. A film that normalizes self-expression in a positive and constructive way in popular culture – like Inside Out does – is okay in my book!
My 18-month old, Margo, is at a stage where she is asserting her independence by doing things on her own, she says “No! I do it!” and/or “Bye, Mom, bye!” That is my signal to give her some space and let her do her “thing.” She plays on her own, usually pretend play, occupying herself for a period of time, while I do something else nearby and then all of the sudden, she comes running, “Mommy! Ma-Maaa!” – and then she’s “glued” to my leg! Right now, there is this constant push and pull of her finding the right balance of dependence and independence on the path to a balanced interdependence.
“Pretend play” is the game that Margo likes to play at her age. She often pretends that she is cooking, feeding her toys/dolls, talking on the phone, cleaning or driving a car. She is just mirroring what she sees her parents do 🙂
My husband, Eric, Margo and I built an “Imagination Box” for her to play in, decorate, and have a physical space of her own, scaled to her size, yet still be close to her parents nearby. This is a fun, budget-friendly activity that you can do with your family right at home. In our experience, when we make the imagination boxes, it really jump starts our daughter’s pretend play activity. Check out our “Imagination Box” tutorial further down.
The Inside Out figures are adorable, just like the characters in the movie. They are for ages 4 and up, so we will be gifting them to my 3 nieces who are older than Margo and I know they love Inside Out. I will be keeping an eye out for a plush Inside Out toy that she can play with, after we watched the movie she kept saying “Bing Bong! Bing Bong!” We can put that on the list for Christmas 🙂
Imagination Box Tutorial
Step 1: Gather your Materials
- 1 large box – Make sure it’s clean and free of any debris. We sometimes have boxes leftover from internet orders which work well. It needs to be large enough for your child to crawl in and out of, this activity can help with those developing motor skills and it’s a bonus if parents can fit inside the box too! Who said this only has to be for kids? The imagination box we created in this tutorial measures 42 in. long x 29 in. wide x 41 in. tall.
- 1 Box cutter, utility knife or scissors – Anything that will cut cardboard well **Safety first! make sure an adult does any cutting!**
- Crayons – For coloring the outside of the box (you could also use pens, markers or paint too – depending on the age of your child/children)
- Packing tape – This type of tape adheres well to a cardboard box. We need it to be sturdy!
- A Ruler, T-Square or Metal Straightedge – Use this to help draw out the door(s) and window(s) or any other openings.
- Scrap string/twine/yarn – You can use this to make a handle for the door. I always have a container for extra string, and this is when it comes in handy!
- Child Safe Flashlight *optional – We made an interior light, using extra twine and a small flashlight.
- Toys/Objects (to use for pretend play in and around the box when it is finished) – Our daughter likes to take her stuffed animals in and out of the box, and her toy dishes, pots and pans. If your child is 4+, the Inside Out TOMY toys that I mentioned above would be great to have an adventure in the imagination box.
Step 2: Tape Flaps & Edges
Tape up the top flaps and all edges around the box. By taping the flaps of the box together, it makes it taller and reduces the number edges and tape the rest to reduce the chance of a paper cut.
Step 3: Plan the Design & Cut Openings
Draw out where you want to cut a door, window(s) or a skylight(s). The design can be kept fairly simple or be more complex. Have an adult cut out the door or window, leaving a flap so that it can be opened or closed. Tape up any exposed cardboard edges. You can cut a little handle so that it’s easier to open and close the flaps. For the door we used some twine which we knotted to make a short handle. **Safety Tip: Make Sure your little one is not inside the box while cutting the door,window, etc. openings** Our door measures 20.5 in. tall x 16 in. wide. Our window measures 7.5 in tall x 5.5 in. wide.
Step 4: Color the box & Additional Details
This is a fun part that can be done during the construction of the imagination box. It can also be saved as an activity for later to stretch out the fun and amusement for your little ones. Younger kids, like toddlers, may just draw anywhere and older kids might have fun elaborately decorating the box. There are many other ways to decorate and add details to the imagination box, for example, we added a light on the inside, using a small flashlight connected to a string. Use your creativity and imagination to make it unique!
References and Further Reading
- Raise an Independent Toddler (Attachment Parenting) – askdrsears.com
- Pretend Play – whattoexpect.com
- Why The Key Character In ‘Inside Out’ Is The One Who Isn’t There by Linda Holmes – npr.org
- Science Of Sadness And Joy: ‘Inside Out’ Gets Childhood Emotions Right – Weekend Edition Saturday – Jon Hamilton, Neta Ulaby – npr.org
- It’s All In Your Head: Director Pete Docter Gets Emotional In ‘Inside Out’ – Fresh Air Interview by Terry Gross – npr.org
- Pop Culture Happy Hour: ‘Inside Out’ And Moms And Dads In Love – by Linda Holmes – npr.org
- Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ Is A Mind-Opening Masterpiece – by David Edelstein – npr.org
- If you like this post, see also: DIY Crayons, DIY Halloween Treat Bowls
If you make and “Imagination Box” and post a picture on social media, be sure to #lifeslittlesweets #InsideOutEmotions and link back to the post, thank you in advance! Be sure to pick up your copy of Inside Out at Walmart! I would love to hear what you and your kids loved about it!
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