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The Adventures of a Cardboard Box

Posted on November 4, 2011 by kierandonaghy

This EFL lesson plan is designed a short film called The Adventures of a Cardboard Box in which a small boy finds myriad of uses for a cardboard box and the theme of critical thinking (reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do) and divergent thinking (thinking to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time).

Language level: Intermediate (B1) – Upper-intermediate(B2.1)

Learner type: All ages

Time: 90 minutes

Activity: Activities to encourage divergent and critical thinking,

Topic: Creativity and divergent thinking

Language: To + infinitive, second conditional

Material: Short film and TV advert

Downloadable material: adventures of a cardboard box lesson instructions


Step 1

As a warmer show the photo of a paper clip below and ask your students to come up with as many uses of a paper clip as they can in 3 minutes.

Let them work individually and then after 3 minutes they should pair up and compare their answers. Get feedback from the whole class.


Step 2

Show your students this photo of a cardboard box.

Ask them to work in pairs and to come up with as many uses of a cardboard box that a child might think of as they can in 3 minutes. After 3 minutes they should work in small groups and compare their answers. Get feedback from the whole class and ask students which are the most creative and inventive uses.


Step 3

Tell your students they are going to watch a short film called The Adventures of a Cardboard Box in which a young boy befriends a cardboard box and comes up with a lot of uses for it. Students should watch the film, note down the different uses of the cardboard box and compare them with their own answers.


Step 4

Write divergent thinking on the board and ask students what it means. Ask them if they think the little boy in the film was a good divergent thinker. Can they think of other examples of divergent thinking?


Step 5

Write critical thinking on the board and ask students what it means. Tell your students they are going to see an example of critical thinking involving another young boy. Show them the video below until 14 seconds and then pause. Ask them the following questions:

What’s the boy doing?

How does he feel?

What does he want

What can he do to get what he wants?

Your students will probably realise that he wants a brother or sister to play football with. Ask your students what he could do to get what he wants. Tell them to work in pairs and to come up with ways he can persuade his parents to have another child. Get feedback from your students.

Show the rest of the video and ask what they think of the young boy’s actions.



I hope you enjoy this English language lesson.

Film English is a labour of love, it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of euros a year to sustain and provide free English language lesson plans. Keeping it a free, clean, ad-free experience — which is important to me and, I hope, to you — means it’s subsidised by the generous support of readers like you through donations. So if you find any inspiration, joy and stimulation in these English language lessons or if they help you teaching English, please consider a modest donation — however much you can afford.


10 thoughts on “The Adventures of a Cardboard Box

  1. This is a brilliant idea and the material used might elicit lots of speaking from all kinds of students.
    Thanks for sharing.

      • Hi Kieran,
        I actually used the lesson with 18-year-old kindergartenteacher trainees and they loved it. They really went along well and we finished by adding a writing assignment: I had them pretend to be journalist and write newspaper report on what they had seen and experienced.
        Thanks again for sharing your ideas

        • Hi Claudia,
          The way you’ve used the material sounds fantastic! I really like the idea of a newspaper article based on what they’ve seen, that’s really nice. Thanks for your kind comments, Claudia.
          All the best,

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  3. Hi,
    What a fantastic idea! I have actually been using the cardboard box idea for a while to discuss the way that children and adults think differently but my lesson was never as exciting as this!! I am going to try it on some of my higher students this week.
    As quite a big step up, I think I am going to combine it as a series of lessons and use this RSAnimate video as well:
    Like I said, it’s big step up but I think I have some classes who will handle it. Education is a highly vocal subject at the moment here in Chile (strikes and protests for the last 6 months) so I shouldn’t have any trouble stimulating discussion.
    Many thanks for this wonderful lesson!

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks a lot. I’m really glad to know that you enjoyed the lesson and find the site useful. I’ve used the lesson with students and it works really well, they come up with loads of uses for a cardboard box and are really creative, they love the film as well.

      You mentioned using the Ken Robinson Changing Paradigms in Education video, I don’t know if you are aware but I’ve got a lesson based on Ken Robinson and the video. It might be of use to you:Here’s a link to it:

      I’ve read about the situation with education and it sounds pretty bad, but hopefully the situation can be resolved peacefully.

      If you luse ythe lesson, lplease let me know how it goes.

      All the best,


      • Hi,
        I had no idea that you had a lesson for Ken Robinson’d video as well – I’ll check it out!

        I have already used the cardboard box lesson and it went down a treat. They weren’t too creative with the paperclip, but the box brought up all sorts of ideas. It was especially entertaining as the class was for a father and daughter so the uses were completely different. We then went on to actually write a script (in the form of a commercial for TV) about all the possible uses of the cardboard box. This is an idea from an Australia TV programme called ‘The Gruen transfer’ where each week two advertising agencies are given the task of writing a TV ad to sell something impossible eg. selling ice to eskimos. The segment is called The Pitch and you can find lots of the videos on YouTube if you are interested. As we have done this exercise in past classes they adapted it well to go with the cardboard box video.

        Thanks for the wonderful lesson ideas and I will definitely be exploring the site further!

        • Hi Karen,
          I’m really happy that the lesson went well and that you’re students enjoyed it. The way you used the lesson sounds great. I’ll check out the Australian programme, it sounds good.
          All the best,

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