8 Ways to Play with a Cardboard Box

Chicago daycare kid cardboard box ideasNeed some fun ideas for recycling those cardboard boxes in the garage? Try some of these cool things to make with your kids!

1. Make a cat bed or doghouse for the family pet

Everyone already knows cats love sitting in boxes, and dogs love to have a bed of their own. Have your little one decorate and design a special cat or dog bed for your pet! Maybe put their soft bed inside the box and make the box into a racecar or castle. Or watch the Peanuts movie together then build your dog his own little Snoopy home.

2. Build a robot costume

Boxes make great costumes with a little imagination. Punch out arm and neck holes, add a box for the head, cover it all in tinfoil and you can walk around as a robot for the rest of the day.

3. Make cardboard boats and try sailing them

Spend an afternoon creating and designing your own pirate ships. Decorate with paint, markers, paper, foil, fabric, and other kinds of materials. Try various ways to seal them up against water and test them out in the sink or even a little backyard plastic swimming pool.

4. Make an airplane, car, train, etc.

Big boxes like those from large household appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, tables, etc. make awesome big pieces of building material with a little tape and some adult help with scissors. Help your little ones build some great cardboard planes, cars, or trains that they can sit in and let their imaginations go wild.

5. Make an indoor or backyard maze

Cut doorways out of big boxes and clip or tape the pieces together so that the little ones have to crawl their way through a giant maze and figure out how to get from one side to the other.

6. Make fancy coasters

Spend an afternoon cutting rounds out of cardboard boxes, then decorating special coasters. You can use gift wrapping paper, contact paper, fabric, different duct tape with designs, or markers to make drawings and decorate tehm. You can either laminate them later, or show them what happens to marker and cardboard when you put wet glasses on it, to help show them why we need coasters on the furniture (just don’t do this as a surprise experiment on one they really like!).

7. Build a special Fort/Clubhouse

Those big appliance boxes can also make great kid-sized clubhouses. Cut out some doors, windows, fancy archways, and let them decorate the inside however they want – give them a stack of magazines to go through and tear out their favorite pictures so they can make a personalized collage of fun pictures or inspiring words and phrases inside. You can get really fancy and string some Christmas lights through the top so they have some light in there, or hang a camping lantern inside as well. If you make it big enough, you could put in some pillows or a beanbag and make it a little temporary reading nook/retreat in the corner of their room for a while.

8. Make a city scene

Use cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, various sized boxes like from granola bars, Kleenex (rectangle and squares), kitchen appliances, etc. Wrap them in paper then let the kids draw doors, windows, awnings, plants, etc. on them. Use toilet paper rolls for trees, paper towel rolls for smoke stacks, tunnels, etc. Don’t forget to make a street and add some of their toy cars driving down the road, and some of their favorite plastic figures as characters in the scene.

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