14 Best Cardboard Box Crafts to Make With Kids

always have too many cardboard boxes lying around -- stuffed behind dressers and lining the hallway closets. It's a problem, and one that only gets worse as the holidays get closer, and I end up online (once again) shopping for gifts. But good news, parents, dig out your X-acto knives, masking tape, and finger paints because cardboard boxes can be turned into great crafts for kids -- and hours of fun, whether you have a future musician, race car driver, or pilot on your hands.

cardboard box craft ideas

So this year, as the boxes begin piling up, start breaking them down and cutting, gluing, and painting them into fun toys for young imaginations. The best part? They're free! 

Would you ever try #7? What's the craziest cardboard box craft you've ever made with your kids?


Images © iStock.com/richellgen; © iStock.com/vtwinpixel

  • Car

    1

    This sweet ride is perfect for cruising with the windows down! Start with a box big enough to fit your toddler. Cut windows and a truck bed shape into the flaps of the long side of your box. Using the extra pieces, cut out five circles for tires and a steering wheel. Trick out the inside with whatever you have around -- extra cardboard for a gear shift, a bell or buzzer for a horn (if you’re willing to listen to beeping all day, that is), a toilet paper roll for an exhaust pipe, tin foil for mirrors. Your kids can use their imaginations -- use yours too!

  • Marble Race

    2

    This is a great craft to practice gross motor skills with kids. Separate the flaps from the body of a small box and cut them into strips about an inch high and with different lengths. Lay some construction paper in the bottom of the box and let your toddler paint the strips of cardboard different colors. Once dry, hot glue them to the bottom of the box in a simple maze pattern, making sure to leave enough space for a marble to fit through. Drop a marble inside and have your kid tip and turn the box to get the marble to the finish line.

  • Box Town

    3

    You know those gigantic carpets with roads and towns that your kids can play on? This is similar, but so much better. Here’s why: your kids can put anything they want in their town. Kate of Picklebums helped her kids create a town that featured Hagrid’s hut next door to a beach and a droid repair shop. And why not? Letting the kids draw the town themselves inspires way more creativity than a store-bought mat. Also, let us not forget that this is still a box -- meaning it doubles as convenient toy storage, too.

  • Guitar

    4

    If you have a music lover in your house, this is the perfect craft to start them on the road to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Flatten a cardboard box and cut out a guitar shape sized to fit your rockstar. Poke holes at the top and bottom and thread stings or rubber bands through, knotting each end behind the guitar. Throw on a little paint and get strumming!

  • Play House

    5

    For this one, you’ll need either one huge box (think new appliances) or two or three large ones of the same size that you can tape together. Cut out a door and windows and decorate the outside with construction paper. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a whole town for your kids and their friends to play in, too.

  • Clothespin Doll House

    6

    Got a couple of creative kids? Set them up with clothespins, pipe cleaners, scraps of cloth, and rubber bands to turn into dolls. While they do that, cut the top flaps and one side of a box off, leaving a three-sided diorama for your kids to decorate. Print out miniature pictures to hang on the wall or paint on wall color or windows.

  • Oven

    7

    For all the aspiring bakers out there (or just the kiddos who get underfoot while Mommy is cooking), this cardboard box oven can be really easy or really complicated. For the simple version, cut a flap in one side of your box and glue four old CDs or paper plates upside-down on the top for the stove. For craftier moms with a little more free time, follow Mumaroo’s tutorial and diagram for the gorgeous version shown above.

  • Airplane

    8

    Remove two flaps on the opposite side of your box, and cut the other two in half diagonally. Prop up the wings with tape and attach the leftover triangles to the front and back to give your plane a nose and tail. Remember to fasten seatbelts during take-off, and don’t forget a helmet!

  • Carnival Game

    9

    Hours of entertainment AND math practice -- and all you need is a box! Erica at What Do We Do All Day came up with this cardboard box carnival game, and it’s perfect for moms who need a quick distraction for their kids. Simply cut out holes of different shapes and sizes from one side of your box and label them with different point values. Gather up some balls, tape a starting line on the floor a few feet away, and ding ding ding ding! You’ve got yourself a game.

  • Fort

    10

    This adorable hideaway doubles as really convenient toy storage. No cutting required -- just turn a large box on its side and let your kiddo climb in. There are lots of ways to make this extra fun for kids -- try taping sheets of paper on the inside and letting them color on the walls. If you have extra carpet from your last renovation, add it to the bottom with a couple throw pillows for a cozy hut. String some Christmas lights around the edges or stick a lantern inside for mood lighting and stack some of your kids' favorite toys or books inside. You’ll never get them out!

  • Sword and Shield

    11

    Sure, you can find plastic swords and shields in stores that you can buy, but why not save the money and spend an afternoon crafting with your kids instead? Simply cut out the shapes from a flattened box and let your kids choose which animal to put on their shields. Glue strips of cardboard to the backs of the shields for arm loops and step out of the way when the friendly fighting commences. 

  • Fairytale Castle

    12

    Here’s one to go along with your swords and shields -- because every knight needs a castle to protect, right? Kathy from CornerstoneConfessions shares her easy cardboard castle tutorial ... all you need is a big box and some ribbons! You can also try covering it in tin foil or painting stones to give the walls a little texture -- but any way you cut it, this gem looks like it’s right out of a fairy tale.

  • Box Maze

    13

    Here’s one for moms with lots of boxes and lots of space. All you need to do is open up the bottom of a box and tape the flaps so they stick straight out. Do the same thing to the next box and tape them together. When you need to turn a corner, take two boxes and cut one of the flaps off of each. The sides without the flaps fit together to make the inside corners. Keep going until you run out of boxes -- or space!

  • Toy Car Wash

    14

    What kid doesn’t love going to the car wash? It’s like a whole other world in there, and Sarah from FrugalFun4Boys came up with a way to re-create that on a smaller scale in your home. Her tutorial for a toy-sized carwash makes great use of leftover boxes. You’ll also need felt, wooden dowels, and a three-ring binder page protector for her version of the craft. 

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