First of all I sent home a letter to the parents requesting boxes. We recieved hundreds of them. You will need box sizes ranging from shoe boxes to one that could fit a dish washer.
The activity starts with the students traveling through general space to music. When the music stops the students go over to the side of the gym and get one box. The students then get 2-3 min per round to work together to build their castle. We usually allow for at least five rounds, but, leave plenty of time to clean up.
We do not discuss how to build the castle. That is left totally up to their own creativity. However, I do give them three guidelines that they must follow. The first guideline is that no student can move a box that someone else put on the castle. The next guideline is that no box can be used as a stool for obvious safety reasons. Also for safety reasons, the students are asked to keep contact with their box at all times(so no boxes are thrown onto the castle).
I leave plenty of time for the group to discuss their strategies in between rounds. This allows the group to interact with limited adult intervention.
This activity also gives us a chance to talk about patience and peace making with others. The higher these castles get, the more likely they are to fall. "So what happens when it falls, should we yell at the person who knocked it down or do we just build it back up again?"
Before we start to clean up, I take a picture of the group next to their castle. These pictures are displayed in the hallway outside of the gym. This is so the students can see their castles as well as the castles of other classes.