One of my cuties enjoying a cardboard box!
This is a post to encourage you to just be creative with your students. If you are in a position where you just don't have that many resources available to you and you are grabbing at air to find ideas, look at the things you have lying around your house and classroom. Think about how kids are always more excited about the wrapping than they are about what's inside at Christmas... meaning, it doesn't have to be flashy and cost a lot of money to use it as a reinforcer with your students. YOU have the power to make something exciting. The same thing goes for using materials to run your language programs.
For instance, I had this huuuge cardboard box from getting something delivered at work. First we let the kids go to town with markers on it. There were so many language opportunities here! (I had them work in groups of two and used it at the language center.)
-Requesting (the color marker they want, the part of box they want to draw on)
-Positional Concepts (color the "top", "bottom", "side" of the box - put items "in", "on top", "next to" the box)
-Labeling (label the colors, shapes they/you draw, have them label "box", label positional concepts)
-Imitation (you draw a shape or a line on the box and then have them imitate, have them imitate opening box, touching parts of the box, putting items in and on top of box)
-Social Skills (have them comment on what the other is drawing, request markers from one another, label their peers and the actions their peers are doing, i.e. "Johnny is drawing a circle!" or "Sally is next to me", etc)
-Matching (match the marker colors, match shapes that you draw, match items that you put in and on top of the box)
*You can also use this as a medium to learn their colors, ABC's, and numbers as you draw on the box. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!
The box acted as a boat for about a week and then I left it in my office for a while. Then I came across the idea to make a Star Cave. So I poked a string of Christmas lights through the top of the box and it was like an entirely new reinforcer for my students again. I would let them have access to it after successfully participating in their table top activities and they LOVED it.
Here are some other cardboard ideas if you happen to order incessantly from Amazon (like I do) and you have some creativity and extra time on your hands:
IkatBag has some awesome ideas for mailboxes, a castle, oven, and more! (note: we made the post office mail box and it was a huge hit during circle time).
Picklebums has this super cool town/roads on cardboard that I love.
Boysgerms has an inspiring picture list of cool ideas.
So, by no means should you be building detailed and picture perfect cardboard creations. Just pull out some tape and a permanent marker and have fun with it. Once you make it fun, the kids will join in and you can encourage them to use their language and social skills.
Not to sound cliche or be a total pun but... THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!