Story in a Box: Using Cereal Boxes for a Story Elements Project

Sometimes things at home that we are about to throw away make for a worthy classroom project or resource.  One of my teacher friends, for example, used to ask me to keep the caps of used water bottles because he is using them as math manipulatives.  In my case, I used empty cereal boxes of various sizes for a story elements project.  I rEmember using shoe boxes for a math project on area and perimeter last year.  This time I thought, why not use cereal boxes?  And so, I called this project created by my 1st Grade ESOL kids, “Story in a Box.” Their task was to summarize, recreate, and illustrate the story we read, which is titled “Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe.”

Here are the materials I used for this project:

empty cereal boxes

colored papers to cover the cereal boxes

plain file folders. cut into 3 rectangular pieces

construction paper, cut into half


markers and crayons

glue sticks and transparent tape

Here are the steps to creating “Story in a Box” Project:

1.  Cover the empty cereal boxes with colored paper using glue or transparent tape.  Since this is a 1st grade project, I had to do this myself to save time.

2.  Divide the class into pairs or trios.  Distribute the materials to each group.

3.  Provide clear instructions to do the following:

a.  Use the 3 pieces of file folder to draw two major characters in vertical position, and the major setting in horizontal position.  Label each drawing.

b.  Fold the  half-sized construction papers into half.

c.  Write a one-sentence “PROBLEM” on the top fold, and illustrate it inside.  Do the same thing for the other half-fold construction paper.  Write a one-sentence “SOLUTION” and illustrate it.

c.  Glue the characters, setting, problem and solution on the cereal box as shown below:

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids' "Story in a Box" Project

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids’ “Story in a Box” Project

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids at Work!

My 1st Grade ESOL Kids at Work!

Our Story Elements Anchor Chart and Projects

Our Story Elements Anchor Chart and Projects

4.  Finally, let each pair present the project by giving a summary of the story.

Go ahead and try this project with your kids!  I’m sure they will love it as my kids did!