Cardboard is such a versatile crafting material. All children love to play with a cardboard box, but when their attention to it wanes, there are so many crafts you can use the box to complete. As a recyclable material, you may be tempted to recycle immediately, but we have some fun ways to get more out of the cardboard before you do.
Craft play is such an important part of a child’s early development. However, it can be a great learning experience for an older child too. Crafting items and working from plans can help for school projects too. Even if you do not have children, cardboard is a great material to craft with as it is more robust than simple paper while it is still able to be cut and manipulated into what you need from it.
We have gathered a range of crafts you can complete with cardboard, but please ensure that if you are making them with a child, you are supervising the child at all times.
One of our favorite cardboard crafts for beginners is a cardboard bag. What we love about this one is you can make it as big or as small as your cardboard box will accommodate. In addition to the cardboard box, you will need some craft paper, a hot glue gun, a hole punch, some pipe cleaners, and whatever you would like to decorate the bag.
The great thing about this craft is that it can be used for multiple scenarios. You can make your child their own shopping bag for play. Or you could make dolls their own ‘designer’ handbags. All of the items you are using you will cut to size so multiple bags can be made during each craft session.
To begin, cut the cardboard to the size that you want the bag to be, make sure to cut two pieces the same size for the sides of the bag. You will then cut the craft paper to make up the rest of the material for the bag. The hot glue gun will adhere the paper to the cardboard to secure the bag shape.
Next, use the hole punch to make space for the pipe cleaner handles. Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes and twist them to hold the handles in place. We recommend that if you are going to decorate the cardboard, you do so before constructing the bag as you risk damaging the structure by then drawing on it once it has been glued.
As soon as the glue has dried, you are ready to use your cardboard accessory. If you think there could be several larger items added to the bag, we recommend reinforcing the craft paper with some clear or colored tape, so it does not tear.
This idea is perfect for larger appliance boxes. Simply cut off one of the long sides of the box so that your child can climb inside. Using pencils, crayons, or markers, let your child’s imagination run wild while they draw a scene setting. This could be a town, beach scene, the woods, or a landscape.
Once the scene is set, they can bring their toys inside to play. This craft idea is ideal with Lego, dolls, or toy cars. If you have a child especially interested in car racing, they could have this cardboard box flattened out to make a racetrack. Using the additional side to construct ramps and barriers that can be affixed with a hot glue gun, there are hours of fun to be had.
A medium-sized cardboard box can be transformed into a sleeping area for your child’s favorite doll, stuffed animal, or toy. This idea is so simple yet fulfilling for your child. Simply cut the flaps off the open area of the box or fold them inside. You may need to reinforce the bottom with some tape if the box will be carried around with any weight inside.
Then, using old clothes, blankets, or towels, create the bed and blankets that the toy will sleep on. You can also encourage your child to decorate the inside of the box as if it was wallpaper. This can also be completed on a smaller scale for smaller dolls or toys.
Obstacle courses are so much fun to run around in, but they are also fun to make. We loved making a maze for a bouncy ball (or any small ball that would work) from an old cardboard box. The great thing about this idea is that you can make it as simple or complex, as big or small as you want to.
You are going to need the cardboard box, some cardboard tubes, any other bits of card or items to make obstacles that you can think of, and a hot glue gun.
Again, you will be opening this box flat and creating the obstacle course. You can use any of the cardboard. You do not need to create obstacles. We used tubes for the ball to roll through but also made ramps for the ball to go over and under. We curled some cardboard to make a small spiral for the ball to travel through too. All of the obstacles can be secured with the hot glue gun and once dried, can provide hours of fun for your children.
You can make keep adding to this one over time as you think of new obstacles or see which works when the ball goes into the maze.