Book Activities: Neelu’s Big Box

Activities inspired by books are a brilliant way to make the reading experience interactive, creative and playful. Children also develop a range of skills when they make things but that’s for the adults to think about – young people can focus on the fun bits. 

About the book:

A big box, her grandparents’ walking sticks… Neelu has everything she needs for her big, strong fort. But she trips and falls, and the box becomes flat! Whacky pictures take us on a colourful ride into a child’s imagination.

As soon as I read Neelu’s Big Box, my brain buzzed with possibilities. I used to love playing with cardboard boxes as a kid and even now, the sight of one thrills me to bits. Tragically, I’m too tall to fit into most of the boxes which come with delivered packages now but I yearn for the day I’m going to have to buy an enormous appliance or something that will justify a giant box.



A girl lying on the floor and drawing with crayons
Image courtesy the Pratham StoryWeaver bank

All Neelu needs for her fort is a bunch of everyday objects. When she accidentally flattens one of these, it doesn’t take her too long to come up with another use for all of them. To encourage your readers to look at the everyday world with fresh new eyes, ask them to think of the objects Neelu used:

  • a cardboard box
  • a yellow basket
  • a red dupatta
  • two walking sticks

Then hand them sheets of paper to draw ideas for other things they can create with these objects.


Image courtesy the Art Bar blog

Use  a cardboard box lying around the house as a framework for a cardboard theatre.

Ask your readers to embellish the box – both outside and inside – with paint, drawings, decorations or any other ideas they can come up with.

Next look for toys and objects you have lying around the house or ask the readers to create characters of their own – either by drawing them or constructing them out of clay.

They can further furnish the theatres with props and settings.

Now the readers can come up with a wide range of stories to enact in the cardboard theatre. These can be flexible depending on the reader’s inclination and the materials you have at hand.


I watched this short film about nine-year-old Caine who built a games arcade entirely out of cardboard boxes in his dad’s garage years ago and it’s still one of my favourite things on the internet. Watch this after reading about Neelu’s adventures with her box to strike inspiration in the minds of your young readers.


No book activity – or, in fact, reading experience – is complete without food. Neelu uses a basket of fruits in her imaginative adventure. Have fun with fruit snacks as your readers set off on their own adventures.

fruit turtle
An apple turtle companion to join the shenanigans. Recipe from here.
A rainbow fruit sword in case of danger. Recipe from here.


Neelu wants to use her cardboard box to make a fort, though things don’t go according to plan. Fortunately, you don’t need to find a big box to make a fort of your own. Read this book in the comforts of a blanket fort. All you need are some sheets and blankets, a sofa and/or a table and/or a few chairs and you’re all set to go.

My friends and I had a long-distance blanket fort party where we each constructed our own forts and then coordinated a watching of Mulan together. I highly recommend this excellent activity.


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