Do you have some bored kids and a ton of empty boxes lying around? A cardboard box is a classic eco-friendly children’s toy. Here are 20 cardboard box ideas that’ll get you thinking outside the box – just remember to recycle it when you’re done.
Go big or go home! My personal favorite way to use leftover large boxes is to hold a “box fort day” and make a bunch of big ole’ forts! Large boxes work the best for this activity, so if you’ve recently moved or purchased new appliances, duct tape those boxes together and have a ball. Use boxcutters to cut windows and doors, and if you’re feeling adventurous – try making a double-decker.
If you’re the crafty type, you can make all sorts of things out of cardboard. For some homemade lightweight cardboard animal figurines, all you need is some cardboard and some scissors (although having tape or glue handy is a good idea).
Toy Car Garage
Cardboard boxes provide a nice smooth surface for housing all your extra sets of wheels. Just rustle up a couple cereal boxes and some empty toilet paper rolls and get to work.
DIY Horse Stable
If you’re looking to jazz up the accommodations for a stable full of majestic horses, a cardboard box can be just the trick. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you’d like, depending on the size (and fanciness) of your ponies. Try using an empty toilet paper roll for a water trough, barrel racing, or jumps!
Dolls need proper accommodations too! Stacking cardboard boxes and decorating them with contact paper is an age-old tradition for little girls (and boys). Use boxes of varying heights and sizes for different rooms and additions, depending on your dolls’ tastes, of course.
Are your dolls too large for a house of their own? They could still use some furniture! Try making your dolls a fancy canopy bed or full dining room set. The possibilities are endless when you have a cardboard box.
Every gift-giving holiday, my mother would be hollering “save the boxes!” She didn’t care whether it was the cereal box from the night before or a beautifully decorated gift box – we reused it until it fell apart. If you have an oddly shaped gift and nothing but a box of Cheerios, try using sticky contact paper instead of traditional wrapping paper. Nobody will be the wiser!
A favorite of elementary school teachers and camp counselors everywhere, the traditional cardboard orchestra is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. Try making a guitar, drums, or flute!
This easy cardboard box DIY activity will keep little ones busy for ages! If you don’t have any cardboard tubes handy, you can also just use strips of cardboard. When all the balls or marbles have disappeared under the couch, I usually resort to using rolled up balls of aluminum foil – which my cat thoroughly appreciates when we’re done.
While you’re going to need some specific sizes for this one, you can make them as elaborate or simple as you want. Even if you just decorate a pair of boxes, now you’ve got some cool robot-head masks!
Even if it’s not Valentine’s Day or Halloween, decorating some treat boxes can be a fun (and tasty) way to pass the time. Once you’ve finished decorating your treat box, feel free to write little notes or drop treats inside for good behavior.
Drive-In Movie Theater
This one is easy. Decorate your cardboard “car”, park it in front of the tv, and enjoy the show! Add some movie-theater themed snacks for an extra effect.
This one is extra fun for the little ones. Find a good-sized cardboard box and gather some objects of various different shapes. You’ll probably need a good box cutter for this one. Trace the shapes onto the cardboard box and cut them out. Watch as your child figures out the puzzle!
Decorate a pair of empty tissue boxes to make them look like dinosaur feet. Pop them on your feet and stomp around for a dino-good time!
Turn your garden into a speedway by making a couple car costumes. Decorate a cardboard box, add a few straps to hang it over your shoulders, and attach a paper plate for a steering wheel.
Cardboard boxes can make excellent imaginary refrigerators, ovens, or washing machines. If it’s rectangular in shape, you can probably make it out of a cardboard box.
Set a large box on its side and cut a good-sized window. Decorate your masterpiece and voila, a perfect puppet theater for all of your productions.
Set up a scene for your action figures or small animals by making a nice scenic diorama. This one is handy for school projects, too.
Need to spend some more time outside? Try making a bug house. Catch a few critters, add some plant material and soil, and stretch some plastic film across the top. Make sure to poke some tiny holes in the film for air, and release your creepy crawlies when you’re done.
Decorate a fancy box to hold all of your unique treasures. Use glitter, glue, paint, or whatever else your heart desires! Stash your treasure box somewhere safe – or draw a handy map for adventurous explorers to find.
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