CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I like the way Ohio teacher Pete Kaser thinks.
Kaser removed every one of the toys in his preschool classroom and replaced them with empty cardboard boxes.
"I wasn't getting the imagination out of the children that I wanted," said Kaser in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Kaser said the problem with typical toys is that a pretend phone is always a phone, a train is always a train, and a cash register is always a cash register. But give a kid a box and it can be anything.
The children didn't ask for their toys back. They didn't even ask where their toys had gone. Rather, they immediately began coming up with ideas for their own creations using the boxes and other raw materials, such as egg cartons and paper towel tubes that their teacher provided.
Kaser observed children who had previously been shy and reserved taking on leadership roles with regard to what to do with the boxes.
I remember when my own daughter was little, she nearly always got more excited over the boxes than what came inside them. I remember one Christmas morning when Celeste was 3 or 4 years old and I was working to remove a Teddy Ruxpin type of bear from its box.
She was hopping anxiously from foot to foot as I struggled to free the toy from all the wires and straps that kept it secured in the box. She was positively bursting with excitement, and when I finally got it free from all the bindings, I thought she was going to snatch it away from me. Instead, she snatched the box and immediately began wiggling herself down inside it.
It was a tight fit, but she managed to scrunch herself down small enough that she could look out the little cellophane window.