A few of the boys ask if they can play in the Atelier. We walk through. Ollie immediately spots the rather large box situated at the end of the room.
“That’s a big box! We could make a house.” he cries excitedly. “Mr. Roy, can you make me a house!?”
I tell Ollie that I can certainly help him.So, begins The Big Box build.
Ollie tries to climb in but the box is too high. He goes to fetch a small blue chair and proceeds to drag it over until it is adjacent to the big box.
He hops up on the chair, swings his leg over and climbs in. The box, it seems, it still too high for easy entry.
“Oh, this is a bit difficult.” he says.
I can see him thinking.
“Can you make me a door?” he asks.
I ask him if he wants the box turned upside down so the base of the box could be the roof. “No, I want it like this.” he replies.
I then ask him where he would like the door and he points to the area he deems suitable. I cut out the door.
Some of the other children start to take an interest in what is going on with The Big Box.
“Can you make windows?” Ollie asks.
“Do you want them to be hinged so you can close them?” I ask, showing him the hinge on the door I have just made.
“Oh yes!” he exclaims.
I proceed to cut out two windows just where Ollie wanted them.
The other children are now bustling around the box, looking in. Curious.
A few requests of “can we get in”, “can we play”, “what are you doing” follow. There are now 5 children in The Big Box.
Theo fetches a box of his own. He wants his own house. I go through the same process and he now has a door.
The box is a bit small and Theo has to manoeuvre himself in through the front door. There isn’t much space inside.
He looks at me, his head cocked to one side, his legs bent at a funny angle.
“Can you make me a window, so I can stick my feet out?”
A few of the children and myself laugh out loud!I cut out the window in Theo’s box while Ollie and the other children explore inside The Big Box. Ollie takes his shoes off and places them in one corner.
“I love it.” He proclaims.
“We can join the houses together.” suggests Theo.
“Yes! Yes!” cries everyone in unison.
I start joining the boxes together with a shared door way so they can crawl from one box to another. The dialogue continues between the children, all deciding what should happen next.
Parker – “Hey, you can make a door over here.”
Ollie – “Parker, Parker get out.”
Parker – “Ollie, I’m coming through.”
Gui – “Atharv, get out.”
More children come to see The Big Box. Alfie – “There’s no room for anyone else.”
“What do you think we should do next?” I ask.
Parker – “Put them together.”
Theo – “I’m gonna go in.”
Atharv – “It’s not done yet. It’s not done yet. We still have to attach it.”
The children then decide that they need some hammers for the build and gather them from the tool bench. They set to work on the exterior walls.
Parker – “Mr. Roy, what will we use for the roof?”
Ollie – “Can you make a roof Mr. Roy?”
Alfie starts sellotaping the boxes together.
Louie – “I’m making a little hole.”
Ollie – “They’re breaking my house!”
I tell all the children that I think we have done enough hammering. A few shouts of “No breaking” from around The Big Box.
Theo – “I asked Mr. Roy to put this house here so it’s my house. I can do whatever I want with this bit.”
Parker – “Don’t go in there!”
Ollie – “No hammering!!”
Ollie – “Mr. Roy they are breaking my house.”
Atharv – “But he’s always hammering.”
Parker – “Can we build a roof?”
What are we going to do next?
Ollie – “I want to build a roof.”
What are we going to build the roof out of?
Ollie – “That.” (pointing to a flattened box)
Alfie – “What’s that?”
Ollie – “Ummm, put a chimney. We could use your water bottle.”
Theo – “I have a door.”
Christy – “What are you doing?”
Ollie – “Hey. Outta my way.”
Mr. Manuel. I hear you are the Chief Architect on this project?
Ollie – “You and Alfie are the construction worker and the boss.”
What would you boys like to do with house?
Eli – “Play families”
Muhammadali – “Play families”
Ollie – “This is our house. This is my house.”
Is that a kitchen or a garage or.....?
Muhammadali – “It’s a garage. It’s a door.”
Eli – “That can be a bedroom.”
Bilal – “Actually that can be where you come out and see the garden.”
Muhammadali – “No, it’s a bedroom.”
What do you think of our house?
Ollie – “Let’s make a house. We’re making a house.”
Henry – “Let’s make it red Ollie.”
Ollie – “Yeah, I wanna make the house red.”
Atharv – “I want to make the roof.”
Ollie – “I wanna make a picture.”
Ollie, who is sat inside the main area of the house starts drawing a picture on the inside wall between the two windows.
To make it more homely?
Ollie (talking to Louie) – “That’s a picture of us, when you were a baby a long time ago.”
Henry – “We need some wood and stuff, so the thing can stand up like that.”
Parker – “Can I come in?”
Atharv – “Can you make the roof!!”
Everyone – “Yaaaaay!!!”
The Big Box had become a house.
By Roy Alexander